SEATTLE — With the Falcons in need of a spark to keep their rally going in the fourth quarter Sunday, the Falcons went after the Rams’ first punt of the game.

Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Troy Andersen lined up in the openings next to the center – the A-gaps.

When the ball was snapped, the Rams doubled-team Carter, and Andersen shot through as if he was fired out of a cannon. He nearly took the ball off the punter’s foot. Carter scooped it up and scored from 26 yards to continue the Falcons’ furious rally, though it fell short at the end.

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The Falcons (0-2) hope to add some more special-teams magic when they face the Seahawks (1-1) at 4:25 p.m. Sunday at Lumen Field.

“I didn’t really get blocked, so it was (like) don’t miss a layup,” Andersen said. “It was definitely a fun play. (I just had to) get up and celebrate with Lorenzo in the end zone.”

The touchdown and subsequent two-point conversion made it a one-score game, 31-25.

“I knew they were going to have to deal with me and Troy in the A-gaps,” Carter said. “We just rushed hard, and Troy made the play. Troy did the hard work. He got through there and made the block. Once I got the ball, I was like, ‘I have to get in. Don’t fumble.’”

While Carter was getting double-teamed, he looked over and saw a flash streaking to the punter.

“Here we go,” Carter said. “The ball rolled my way, so we had to go get (it). It was just a lot of excitement and an opportunity for us to gain momentum.”

The Falcons needed another turnover and touchdown to pull out the improbable comeback from 28-3 and 31-10 deficits. They got the turnover, but couldn’t punch it into the end zone from 37 yards and lost 31-27.

Carter pointed to an earlier series that started the rally.

“I think it was a buildup of things from a couple of series before when we made a stop and our offense drove the field and scored,” Carter said. “That was just another thing that just helped show how much fight that we had. How much effort we are just going to keep putting forward.”

Carter is a starter at outside linebacker and played 51 defensive snaps (83%) against the Rams. The blocked punt was his only special-teams snap.

Andersen, a rookie backup linebacker, played nine defensive snaps (14%) and five on special teams. Andersen played 25 special-teams snaps in the opening loss to the Saints.

Carter played on every special-teams unit in his first two seasons in the NFL. In his third season, he was on every unit except one.

“That’s what I’ve been letting the young guys know, special teams is a phase of the game that helps determines wins and losses,” Carter said. “Special teams is a big part of the game. You’ve got to have the best guys out there.”

So, Carter, who also has covered kickoffs this season, doesn’t mind being a starter who plays on special teams.

“When you are out there competing, it’s a chance to make a play and help the team win,” Carter said. “So, whatever they want me to do, I’ll line up and go do it.”

Covering kickoffs is like playing some outside linebacker to Carter.

“I love defensive special teams where you get to run and hit,” Carter said. “It’s a chance for you to go down and make a play. Like on kickoffs, you get to run down and set the edge from yards away.”

That’s also one of his duties at outside linebacker, but he doesn’t get the running start.

“It’s better than setting the edge on a 350-pound offensive lineman,” Carter said. “I like to run up and take advantage of people. It’s a mismatch with us, defensive linebackers.”

Andersen received his first action from scrimmage against the Rams.

“It’s been a learning experience,” Andersen said. “It’s been a lot of fun being out there with the guys, every day at practice trying to get better and do whatever they ask me.”

Going against the high-powered defending Super Bowl-champion Rams’ offense was an enlightening experience for the rookie from Montana State.

“They’re obviously extremely talented,” Andersen said. “They have all of the shifts and motions. A lot of things you have to communicate and watch out for. They are a great team. It was a challenge.”

The Falcons plan to continue playing Andersen in spots.

“Troy went in there because I think he can help,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “We’ll continue to enhance his role, but that’s no shot at anything Mykal Walker or Rashaan Evans have done. Troy is a good football player. I think we’re bringing him along the right way.”

Carter believes the Falcons’ defense is coming together.

“I think we’ve shown flashes of what we could be, and that’s pretty good, in my opinion,” Carter said. “We just have got to keep doing it and putting it together consistently throughout the whole game.”

The Falcons’ defense has been streaky over the first two games.

Against the Saints, they forced punts on four of their first six possessions. They gave up scores on four of the last six possessions.

Against the Rams, they gave up a touchdown on four of their first five possessions. Then the Falcons closed the game giving up only one score on L.A.’s final five possessions.

The defense needs to put together a whole game and eliminate the wild scoring binges.

“Once we do that, we’ll go from there and just keep stringing them together,” Carter said. “I think people can see what we have going on. See the opportunities and chances that we have to be a good defense.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Oct. 9 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

Oct. 30 vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.

Nov. 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.

Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.


Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD