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Falcons overpower Rams 34-17 to move to 8-2

From: Sports Network

Matt Ryan passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns, and Atlanta rallied for a 34-17 win over St. Louis in a game that was closer than the final score.

The Falcons erupted for 18 unanswered points to end the game, capped by a 39- yard touchdown run by Michael Turner inside two minutes that accounted for the final score.

“We had great field position first and foremost. You’ve got to credit the defense and special teams for putting us in really good position to go down there and score,” Ryan said.

Turner rushed for 131 yards on 28 carries and Ryan connected on 26 of his 39 passes — an efficient offensive attack that lifted Atlanta (8-2) to its fourth straight win.

For a while, it looked like the NFC leaders were in for a fight.

The Rams (4-6) had a 17-16 lead after Sam Bradford connected with Brandon Gibson for a 13-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. But they didn’t score again, despite driving all the way to the Atlanta two-yard line late in the fourth.

Bradford had a shovel pass intercepted by safety William Moore at the goal line to end that drive — St. Louis trailed by nine points at the time — and the Rams turned the ball over on downs with their next possession.

Turner followed that with his run up the middle on the first play after the two-minute warning and Ryan found Roddy White on the two-point conversion, sealing the win for Atlanta.

Turner said he thought about taking a knee at the end of his run so the Falcons could keep possession and run the clock down.

“But I never practice sliding or anything like that so I didn’t want any fluke injury to happen to me doing something crazy like that,” he said. “I just went ahead and took it in.”

Bradford’s costly error was a rare one — he set an NFL rookie record by going 169 consecutive attempts without an interception — but his numbers for the game were good: 27-of-42 passing for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

It was the fifth time the No. 1 draft pick threw two touchdown passes in his rookie season.

Bradford spread the ball to seven receivers, hitting Danny Amendola eight times for 63 yards. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui had four catches for 46 yards and a score, while Steven Jackson rushed 11 times for 54 yards.

But the Falcons outgained St. Louis, 391 yards to 304, and held the ball nearly 12 minutes longer.

“I felt like we had a lot of short drives. We weren’t keeping ourselves on the field,” said Bradford. “Any time you don’t keep yourselves on the field, you really don’t give yourselves an opportunity to get the run game going.”

The more experienced quarterback led his team to victory Sunday.

Ryan directed a five-minute touchdown drive near the end of the third quarter that gave Atlanta the lead, hitting Tony Gonzalez for a 16-yard gain and White on a nine-yard pass. His final two throws were to Justin Peelle, including a two-yard TD pass to make it 23-17.

Atlanta forced a punt and Ryan led another scoring drive that ended in Matt Bryant’s 21-yard field goal with about eight minutes remaining in the game.

Bradford was intercepted on the ensuing possession, flipping the ball directly into Moore’s hands in the middle of the goal line. Moore took the ball out to the Atlanta 13 and both teams had drives stall before Turner’s TD run.

“I let it go without really finding my receiver, which is something I really can’t do,” Bradford said. “I got to make sure it’s there. If not, I probably should have just pitched it to the ground and got us the fourth down where we could have either gone for it or kicked a field goal.”

St. Louis took a 7-3 lead after the first quarter, with Bradford finding Hoomanawanui on a 25-yard touchdown pass inside 10 minutes. Atlanta’s points came on Bryant’s 42-yard field goal on the ensuing possession.

The Falcons carried a 16-10 lead into halftime, getting two more field goals from Bryant and a 12-yard Brian Finneran touchdown reception. St. Louis’ points came on a Brown field goal.

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