And if you hear anybody crack that mealy old chestnut, set them straight.
The Los Angeles Rams (11-5) went from pathetic to powerful…in a single year.
They finished the 2017 regular season at the top of the NFC West, and Head Coach Sean McVay (best choice for “Coach of the Year”) took them to the playoffs for their first time in over a decade.
Last Saturday L.A. hosted a very exciting Wild Card game against the Atlanta Falcons.
However, the Rams had a very inauspicious start.
The Rams went from pathetic to powerful…in a single year.
They received the kickoff and went three-and-out.
Same with the Falcons.
During the first six minutes of the game, the collective (and disappointing) efforts of both teams had resulted in four punts and a combined total of only 16-yards.
Atlanta’s second punt took a bounce, hit return-man Pharoh Cooper, and the Falcons recovered it inside the Rams red zone.
It culminated in a field goal, 3-0.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff only had one pass completion through their next possession. So, despite Atlanta giving up 20-yards in penalties, L.A. had to punt.
Atlanta got stoked on an extended advance, but quickly cooled and kicker Matt Bryant booted a 51-yard FG, 6-0.
- Cooper had the ball stripped on the ensuing kickoff. Atlanta recovered and Falcons QB Matt Ryan moved them across the goal line in eight plays, 13-0.
The teams exchanged punts.
Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed for a 26-yard gain; and an unnecessary roughness penalty garnered another 15-yards.
Goff hit wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp for big gains and a touchdown, 13-7.
Los Angeles got the ball one more time before the half.
Aggressive play calling and no-huddle offense, coupled with a pass interference call, helped move the Rams across midfield.
Goff aired one out to Woods for 38-yards, putting the Rams on the seven yard line with 20 ticks remaining, and no timeouts.
Gurley caught a pass on the four yard line. With time about to expire, Goff immediately spiked the ball and stopped the clock with four seconds left.
However, Atlanta was flagged for being off sides. That penalty only occurs before the snap, which meant no legal play had transpired, so the previous play (Gurley’s catch) came under review.
It was clear the ball came lose. No catch.
Time was added back, and it became 2nd & goal from the 7, with 14 seconds remaining.
Goff’s pass was incomplete and a holding penalty on L.A. added 10-yards.
Kicker Sam Ficken was good from 35-yards out, 13-10.
Back from the locker room the Falcons dominated the third quarter, holding the Rams scoreless while putting up points on two field goals, 19-10.
Los Angeles started the fourth Q with a nine play drive and another Ficken FG, 19-13
The Falcons answered by crossing 83-yards of grass and scoring on an eight yard pass from Ryan to WR Julio Jones, 26-13.
L.A. would not go quietly. A 16-play drive ended with a five yard TD catch by Tight End Tyler Higbee.
Except it wasn’t.
A video review showed the ball was moving around like loose change in a large pocket.
Goff’s next pass was tipped away and L.A. turned the ball over on downs.
Atlanta had to punt out of their next possession.
With 1:42 left to play, the Rams had one last chance.
But the Atlanta defense had been brilliant the entire game…and remained so.
L.A. only advanced four yards, and then relinquished the ball on downs.
Ryan knelt twice, and the clock zeroed.
Atlanta will play the Eagles in Philadelphia, on Saturday.
Congratulations to coach McVay and the Los Angeles Rams for a winning season and an exciting run.
God Bless and enjoy the playoffs.
Mark Felicetti needed another three weeks of 2017. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.