INGLEWOOD — The Rams had their offense back on track Sunday until they ran into a sinister 28-3 scoreboard against the Atlanta Falcons, who made the score infamous in the Super Bowl six years ago.
The Falcons, known for blowing double-digit leads, were on the other side this time, putting a scare into the reigning Super Bowl champions. But Jalen Ramsey, who was in need of a bounce-back performance, ended the Falcons’ fourth-quarter rally with an interception to preserve the Rams’ 31-27 victory.
The Rams’ answer to getting their offense back on track was to make star receiver Cooper Kupp wait his turn in the game at SoFi Stadium and build a double-digit lead by getting newcomer wide receiver Allen Robinson involved on the opening drive.
Also, running back Cam Akers didn’t stand on the sideline for long stretches as he had in the Rams’ season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills, and tight end Tyler Higbee made an impact early and often.
Kupp eventually got going after seeing his first target around the two-minute warning of the first half, and turned his late start into another spectacular performance at SoFi.
But his fumble in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons the ball back with a six-point deficit and 3:22 left in regulation.
The Rams survived, getting past an embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 to record their first win of the 2022 season.
For 10 days, the Rams (1-1) were constantly asked about Robinson’s quiet team debut, Akers’ lack of playing time, and the banged-up offensive line allowing seven sacks to the Bills.
But the team had no concerns about Kupp and decided to give him offensive help by being intentional about giving Robinson the ball early against the Falcons.
Robinson provided the Rams’ first score after a 1-yard touchdown reception on the opening drive. Kupp added two touchdown receptions, including a 10-yard scoring grab to extend the Rams’ lead to 28-3 with 9:22 in the third quarter.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford started the game 12 of 12 for 120 yards before throwing an interception in the end zone to Falcons cornerback Casey Hayward while targeting Higbee late in the second quarter.
The Rams quickly returned to the Falcons’ territory after rookie cornerback Cobie Durant returned an interception 51 yards. Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson bobbled the ball before Durant grabbed it to set up Stafford’s three-yard touchdown pass to Kupp to extend the Rams’ 21-3 advantage with 14 seconds left before halftime.
The Rams didn’t waste time getting Robinson involved in Week 2. Stafford’s first pass attempt was 15 yards to Robinson, who only had 12 receiving yards versus Buffalo. Robinson capped the opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown reception on a fade pass from Stafford to give the Rams an early 7-0 advantage with 1:44 in the first quarter.
On the second drive, Akers, the Rams’ other missing Week 1 playmaker, got involved by recording an 8-yard rushing attempt and a 10-yard reception out of the backfield, but it was Darrell Henderson who closed the drive with an 8-yard rushing score to give the Rams a 14-0 advantage with 9:30 remaining in the first half.
The Rams entered the game as 10-point betting favorites, but many questioned that line because of the issues raised in the Bills game.
The offensive line might have been the biggest concern because the Rams were without center Brian Allen because of a knee injury. Coleman Shelton moved from right guard to center, and Tremayne Anchrum took over for Shelton. But Anchrum’s his first career start lasted less than a drive before Anchrum left the game with an ankle injury and second-year lineman Alaric Jackson replaced him.
Atlanta was expected to put up a better fight before its late rally because of its young playmakers, with tight end Kyle Pitts and rookie receiver Drake London, the Moorpark native and USC product. London recorded a 4-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, but the Rams’ defense contained Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota and his offense for most of the game.
More to come on this story.