The St. Louis Rams could not overtake the Atlanta Falcons as they lose for the 18 th time in 20 games falling in Atlanta by a final of 31-27. The loss ends the Rams season at 2-14. The Falcons finish 7-1 at home and make the playoffs with this win.
Atlanta will travel next weekend to Arizona to face former Rams’ MVP Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in a NFC wildcard game.
In his first year as coach, Mike Smith and rookie quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 record one season after a 4-12 finish. Meanwhile, Jim Haslett concludes the 2009 season 2-10 and his future in limbo.
Michael Turner added 208 yards rushing with a touchdown to counter Steven Jackson’s 30 carries for 161 yards and two touchdowns for St. Louis.
"I thought we played about as well as we could play," said Rams coach Jim Haslett. "Our guys played their hearts out. We just didn’t get it done. I was proud of the way we played. I think that the way that they played will define who they are next year."
Haslett replaced Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start. He said he didn’t know if he’ll have an opportunity to return in 2009.
The Falcons overcame three turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter. Turner fumbled into the end zone after a 70-yard run to spoil a scoring opportunity early in the final quarter. Then, on Atlanta’s next possession, Ryan’s short pass for Roddy White was intercepted by cornerback Jonathan Wade at the Falcons 22.
Ryan’s second interception of the game set up Josh Brown’s 27-yard field goal, giving St. Louis a 27-24 lead with 6:39 remaining.
Atlanta answered Brown’s field goal with a Norwood touchdown run from the St. Louis 45 with 3:41 left. Norwood ran for 56 yards and two touchdowns on three carries. He set up his 8-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter with his 92-yard kickoff return.
Jackson is the first Rams running back since Eric Dickerson (1983-86) to rush for 1,000 yards in four straight seasons.