Rams
Falcons
27 - 31 Final
  for this game

Falcons overcome Rams on Norwood's run

Dec 28, 2008 - 11:18 PM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood ran the Atlanta Falcons into an improbable first-round playoff matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.

Turner rumbled for 208 yards on 25 carries and one score and Norwood returned a kickoff for 98 yards and found the end zone twice, leading the playoff-bound Falcons to a come-from-behind, 31-27 win over the lowly St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Rookie Matt Ryan completed 10-of-21 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and Roddy White caught three passes for 48 yards and a score for the Falcons (11-5), who secured the No. 5 spot in the NFC playoffs with the victory.

"It was a tough, hard-fought football game," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "I'm proud of the way our guys played. We are now in the tournament and are very excited about that opportunity.

"We are very proud of what we have accomplished up until this point with 11 wins. But now we are all zero and zero. We want to try to get ready for this tournament, make some corrections and get rolling to start the postseason."

Turner has been sensational for the Falcons, rushing for 1,699 yards and a team-record 17 touchdowns. But a rare mistake by the Atlanta tailback almost cost them the game.

On Atlanta's first drive in the fourth quarter, Turner rumbled down the middle before cutting right and looked like he was headed for the end zone. But St. Louis cornerback Ron Bartell knocked the ball loose at the Rams 4 and recovered the ball in the end zone.

The officials signaled fumble, which was immediately challenged by Smith. The play was upheld upon video review, to resounding boos from the Atlanta fans.

"I guess we like drama," Turner joked. "I thought my knee was down, but you live with it if the refs make a call."

As the catcalls continued, the Rams marched down the field on the ensuing possession, setting up a 27-yard field goal by Josh Brown to give St. Louis a 27-24 lead with 6:39 remaining, stunning the Georgia Dome crowd.

But Turner and Norwood gave the home team something to cheer about.

Turner pounded the ball for 24 yards on four carries before giving way to Norwood, who rumbled 45 yards down the middle of the field for the winning score.

"That was a power play, No. 32, right up the gut," Norwood said. "The offensive line gave me a seam and I was able to hit it."

The Falcons are headed west to the desert of Arizona - the site of last year's Super Bowl - for a playoff game next week against the NFC West-champion Cardinals.

"We're just thankful for the opportunity," Norwood said. "We're going to go into Arizona and make the most of the opportunity."

Who would ever have though the club would even have a chance following last season?

Their coach, Bobby Petrino, quit on them after 13 games, and their franchise quarterback could only watch from a federal penitentiary. Atlanta also was unable to reel in "the Tuna," Bill Parcells, who took the head of operations' job with the Miami Dolphins instead.

But somehow, some way, first-year coach Smith and the Falcons are headed to the postseason.

"I think our fans needed this in a big way with what took place the past few years," Atlanta linebacker Keith Brooking said. "Obviously, the support was not there the beginning of the year. They were doubtful and rightfully so. But the city needs this. You could tell the atmosphere of the dome was electric today."

Atlanta was tantalizingly close to giving its fans a home playoff game by securing the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Seconds after Norwood's winning score, the first video highlight of the sequestered New Orleans Saints' matchup against division rival Carolina flashed on the scoreboard, showing Drew Brees' 17-yard TD pass to Lance Moore that gave the Saints a late 31-30 lead.

The Georgia Dome roared.

But by the time fireworks rocketed through the facility for the team's seventh win in eight games here, John Kasay connected on a 42-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to give Carolina the win.

The path to the Falcons' ultimate goal may have changed, but the mission remains the same.

"Our 16-game road was pretty good for the regular season," Brooking said. "We have to put that behind us. We are on a four-game mission (to win the Super Bowl)."

Jason Elam opened the scoring with a 39-yard field goal with 10:07 remaining in the first before Steven Jackson rumbled 4 yards for the touchdown to give the Rams a 7-3 lead.

Turner put the Falcons up by three with a 9-yard TD run around right end with 7:11 remaining in the second quarter before Marc Bulger found Donnie Avery over the middle for a 16-yard score to give St. Louis a 14-10 lead with 38 seconds left in the half.

But Norwood would not allow the Falcons to go into the break without the lead. The lightning-fast Atlanta kick returner rumbled 92 yards to the Rams 8 on the ensuing kickoff before finishing the job with an 8-yard run on a direct snap to put the Falcons ahead, 17-14.

"I got tired," Norwood quipped.

Atlanta extended the lead to 24-14 on a touchdown reception by Roddy White before St. Louis tied it on a 31-yard field goal by Brown and a 2-yard touchdown run by Jackson.

Bulger completed 19-of-32 passes for 230 yards and one TD and Jackson rushed for 161 yards on 30 caries with two scores for the Rams (2-14), who finished the year with 10 straight losses.

"I'm disappointed," Rams coach Jim Haslett said of the season. "I thought we had a chance to win at least four games."






  • 91
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    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Rams 27, Falcons 31  FinalDec 29 5:17 AM
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    Rams 27, Falcons 31  FinalDec 28 5:48 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 7 7 3 10 27
    ATLANTA 3 14 7 7 31 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 39 YD, 4:58. Drive: 8
    plays, 55 yards in 2:52. Key plays:
    Ryan 22-yard pass to Norwood to
    Atlanta 49; Ryan 15-yard pass to
    Jenkins to St Louis 28. ATLANTA 3-0
    STL - TD, S

    Dec 28 4:08 PM
  • 76
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 20 roots (Close Finish)

    Rams 27, Falcons 31  4th - 2:00Dec 28 4:02 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    JERIOUS NORWOOD 45 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ST LOUIS 27
    ATLANTA 31 3:41 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Rams 27, Falcons 31  4th - 3:41Dec 28 3:57 PM
  • 56
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    RUWTbot Took away 32 roots (Close Finish)

    Rams 27, Falcons 31  4th - 3:41Dec 28 3:57 PM
  • 55
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    lpickrell Added 5 roots

    Rams 24, Falcons 24  4th - 9:55Dec 28 3:51 PM


  • NFL
    FG STL
    JOSH BROWN 27 YD
    ST LOUIS 27
    ATLANTA 24 6:39 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Rams 27, Falcons 24  4th - 6:39Dec 28 3:51 PM
  • 88
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    RUWTbot Added 33 roots (Close Finish)

    Rams 27, Falcons 24  4th - 6:39Dec 28 3:51 PM


  • NFL
    TD STL
    STEVEN JACKSON 2 YD RUN
    (JOSH BROWN KICK)
    ST LOUIS 24
    ATLANTA 24 13:18 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Rams 24, Falcons 24  4th - 13:18Dec 28 3:26 PM
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    Rams 24, Falcons 24  4th - 13:18Dec 28 3:26 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 7 7 3 17
    ATLANTA 3 14 7 24 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 39 YD, 4:58. Drive: 8
    plays, 55 yards in 2:52. Key plays:
    Ryan 22-yard pass to Norwood to
    Atlanta 49; Ryan 15-yard pass to
    Jenkins to St Louis 28. ATLANTA 3-0
    STL

    Dec 28 3:21 PM


  • NFL
    FG STL
    JOSH BROWN 31 YD
    ST LOUIS 17
    ATLANTA 24 1:39 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Rams 17, Falcons 24  3rd - 1:39Dec 28 3:11 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    RODDY WHITE 18 YD PASS FROM MATT RYAN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ST LOUIS 14
    ATLANTA 24 12:20 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Rams 14, Falcons 24  3rd - 12:20Dec 28 2:46 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 7 7 14
    ATLANTA 3 14 17 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 39 YD, 4:58. Drive: 8
    plays, 55 yards in 2:52. Key plays:
    Ryan 22-yard pass to Norwood to
    Atlanta 49; Ryan 15-yard pass to
    Jenkins to St Louis 28. ATLANTA 3-0
    STL - TD

    Dec 28 2:28 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    JERIOUS NORWOOD 8 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ST LOUIS 14
    ATLANTA 17 0:11 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Rams 14, Falcons 17  2nd - 0:11Dec 28 2:26 PM


  • NFL
    TD STL
    DONNIE AVERY 16 YD PASS FROM MARC BULGER
    (JOSH BROWN KICK)
    ST LOUIS 14
    ATLANTA 10 0:32 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Rams 14, Falcons 10  2nd - 0:32Dec 28 2:22 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 9 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ST LOUIS 7
    ATLANTA 10 4:43 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Rams 7, Falcons 10  2nd - 4:43Dec 28 2:09 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ST LOUIS 7 7
    ATLANTA 3 3 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 39 YD, 4:58. Drive: 8
    plays, 55 yards in 2:52. Key plays:
    Ryan 22-yard pass to Norwood to
    Atlanta 49; Ryan 15-yard pass to
    Jenkins to St Louis 28. ATLANTA 3-0
    STL

    Dec 28 1:42 PM


  • NFL
    TD STL
    STEVEN JACKSON 4 YD RUN
    (JOSH BROWN KICK)
    ST LOUIS 7
    ATLANTA 3 6:18 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Rams 7, Falcons 3  1st - 6:18Dec 28 1:20 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    JASON ELAM 39 YD
    ST LOUIS 0
    ATLANTA 3 10:02 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Rams 0, Falcons 3  1st - 10:02Dec 28 1:11 PM
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    Rams vs. FalconsDec 28 6:52 AM