INGLEWOOD — The TV cameras showed a relieved Cooper Kupp on the sideline after Jalen Ramsey’s jump-ball interception essentially sealed the Rams’ 31-27 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
Ramsey’s takeaway in the end zone bailed out Kupp, who fumbled to give the ball back to the Falcons on the Rams’ 37-yard line with 3:22 left in regulation.
“Jalen made an incredible play and saved me some heartache there,” Kupp said.
Ramsey’s heroics were for his teammates, but he also did it for his critics after a poor Week 1 performance against the Buffalo Bills.
“I’m him,” Ramsey shouted after the game-saving interception. “I love it when they count me out.”
Ramsey and the Rams’ defense bounced back in Week 2 to contain Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota and his option-heavy offense with talented playmakers in running back Cordarrelle Patterson, rookie receiver Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts. The Rams only allowing Patterson 41 rushing yards on 10 carries was one of the biggest takeaways of their victory at SoFi Stadium. Pitts had a quiet two catches for 19 yards.
London, the Moorpark native and USC product, made impact plays with eight catches for 86 yards, one touchdown reception and was instrumental in the Falcons’ late rally after a 28-3 deficit, but the Rams were pleased to make the Falcons one dimensional. The Falcons rushed for 90 yards with Mariota only contributing 16 yards on six carries.
“We knew that running was going to be a big part of their game, and whether it was the running backs, receivers or the quarterback, we felt like we got them into a passing game,” Rams middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.
“Played with great technique on the edge, especially my guys in my room,” Rams outside linebackers Leonard Floyd said. “We all played with great hands, eyes and vision and kept everything inside, so all the other guys could make plays.”
The Rams’ defense was burned several times by Bills quarterback Josh Allen’s mobility and throws outside the pocket in the season-opening loss, and it appeared that Mariota was going to do plenty of damage with his legs during a productive opening drive.
The Falcons converted two third downs on their opening drive and were faced with a third-and-11 at the Rams’ 19-yard line. Wagner got them off the field by sacking Mariota on a blitz call before kicker Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt.
The Falcons only converted once more on third down after Wagner’s sack and finished 3 of 10, a big improvement for the Rams after allowing the Bills to convert 9 of 10 third downs in Week 1.
The Rams’ defense wasn’t at fault for the blocked punt touchdown return and they shouldn’t be penalized for allowing a touchdown on a short field after Matthew Stafford’s interception to ignite the Falcons’ second-half rally. But the Rams have plenty to clean up and they seem headed in the right direction after a bounce-back performance.
“When I saw the ball go up, I knew he was coming down with it,” Wagner said of Ramsey’s interception. “It’s great to see him respond that way, and keep his composure and he did great today.”
AGTG… a win is a win!
We celebrate em all! Go Rams! pic.twitter.com/7IiQTnKyGp
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) September 19, 2022
Takeaway No. 2: Skowronek paves the way
Rams coach Sean McVay often raves about Ben Skowronek because of his versatility as a receiver and special-teams contributor. The second-year wideout can now add fullback to his resume after being the lead blocker on several running plays for the Rams.
Skowronek helped the running backs establish rhythm and he provided blocking help for a short-handed offensive line that was missing center Brian Allen and lost right guard Tremayne Anchrum on the opening drive to an ankle injury. Also, the threat of Skowronek coming out of the backfield as a receiver allowed Allen Robinson and Kupp to get a few open looks.
Kupp also had a memorable block on Darrell Henderson’s 8-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter.
“Just to be able to mix it up a little bit,” McVay said about Skowronek. “Sometimes those things might be applicable, but when you’ve got tough players that you can utilize in a bunch of different ways … Really proud of what he did, not surprised. But he’s just a football player. He can play receiver, he lined up in the eye a handful of times today. I’m really happy to be working with Ben Skowronek.”
Takeaway No. 3: Durant’s memorable defensive debut
Rams rookie cornerback Cobie Durant provided a spark after he entered the game in the second quarter to replace Troy Hill, who left with a groin injury.
Durant, the team’s fourth-round selection, picked off Mariota after Patterson bobbled the pass and returned it 51 yards to set up Stafford’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Kupp in the second quarter. Later, Durant sacked Mariota for a loss of seven yards in the third quarter.
“I blitzed off the edge, and I don’t even think he saw me coming off,” Durant said. “I’m little, so, I was coming off the edge, off the offensive lineman, so he stepped back and I sacked him.”
McVay didn’t provide an update on Hill after the game, but the Rams have confidence in Durant if he’s needed to play starter’s snaps next week against the Arizona Cardinals.
Rams vs. Falcons postgame show https://t.co/C1bUUMaDyh
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) September 19, 2022
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 18, 2022
CINCO COMING UP CLUTCH!
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 18, 2022