Falcons Flashback Friday: vs. Rams, 2004 Playoff

Gary Coronado  TNS

Gary Coronado TNS

The Falcons opened the second half with two time-consuming drives that resulted in Bryant field goals, including a 54-yarder that gave Atlanta a 19-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

But the Falcons win over the Rams was one of the more impressive games Atlanta would have in the playoffs until their wins over the Seahawks and Packers.

The Falcons have been answering questions about the 25-point blown lead against the Patriots for 11 months, but they almost didn't get the opportunity to see the playoff stage for the second consecutive year.

Gurley's had an MVP-caliber season.

But if Manuel's defence can shut down the Rams run game and control possession offensively, the Falcons will have a chance to upset high-flying L.A. on the road.

The wild-card game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum on Saturday night will provide answers about the offense and the defense. If not for an inconsequential missed field goal at the end of the Seahawks' game on Sunday, it would have been the Falcons' three-point victory in Seattle on November 20 that would have proved the tiebreaker.

Mariota had 205 yards passing and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 22-yard strike to Eric Decker with six minutes left. Allen Rossum was a great return man for the Falcons. It's bad for the offense in the big picture. Would you be surprised if he had a three interception game? Minnesota is 13-3, but are you going to trust a playoff team with quarterback Case Keenum, who couldn't cut it in his first four National Football League seasons with Houston or the Rams?

That was about as close as the Rams ever would seem to threaten. Their roster has only six players with National Football League postseason experience, and they're led by the youngest head coach ever to earn a playoff berth.

"I'm O-fer, so I don't have much experience in winning", he joked this week. "I knew he was good, but I didn't know he was better than everybody". But on Friday, the Falcons announced that despite missing practice on Tuesday and being a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, Freeman is available to play and will start on Saturday.

They have had some impressive wins: Green Bay, Dallas, Seattle, New Orleans and to some degree Carolina at the end. The Titans will find out Sunday whether they're headed to New England or Pittsburgh next.

While McVay transformed the offense, Phillips got the most out of a team that allowed 20.6 points per game this season, down from 24.6 previous year. Can they flip a switch? "It doesn't matter where we're going, we're going".

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