The Rams’ defensive front, with Dante Fowler and Aaron Donald leading the way, put Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan under siege and eventually knocked him out of the game with a right ankle injury early in the fourth quarter.
The Rams had five sacks, eight quarterback hits and three forced fumbles when Ryan left the game. They added a quarterback hit on backup Matt Schaub for good measure.
Ryan appeared to suffer a right ankle injury when Donald beat left guard Wes Schweitzer, who was playing for James Carpenter. On the play, Ryan’s right ankle was severely twisted and he limped off the field.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan heads to the locker room with an ankle injury during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Credit: Curtis Compton
Credit: Curtis Compton
To add insult to injury, Donald also stripped the ball off Ryan.
Schaub came on to replace Ryan, who completed 16 of 27 passes for 159 yards and one interception. He had a passer rating of 60.6.
Fowler, who had seven tackles, three tackles for losses, three sacks, three quarterback hits and a forced fumble, had his way with Falcons rookie right tackle Kaleb McGary.
“That amount of quarterback hits and sacks for sure was a real factor in this game,” Quinn said. “(We have) to go back and look at it and see what was the cause and why and what were the breakdowns, we’ll get it to. For sure, tonight, I thought that was a big part of this game.”
McGary was remorseful.
"Of course, I feel like I let the team down," McGary said.
Ryan was in a walking boot on his right foot after the game in the locker room. The team will get an MRI Monday morning to determine the extent of the sprain.
“We were playing against a good defense,” Schaub said. “A good front. They were doing some different things than what we saw on film.”
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips received some of the credit. Ryan, because of the injury, didn’t talk to the media after the game.
Schaub was left to explain the implosion by the offensive line, which was fortified with $80 million in replacement parts over the offseason.
Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub talks about entering the game to replace Matt Ryan following an injury. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)
“Just in where they put guys and the matchups they bring from understanding our projection schemes being able to make slides from happening by putting linebackers in certain spots,” Schaub said. “That’s something that Wade Phillips has always been good about.”
The Falcons were down 13-3 at halftime and basically sent up a white flag of surrender in the second half.
But the players insisted they were still playing for Quinn.
“We still have to go back to work,” said middle linebacker Deion Jones, who finished with 11 tackles. “ We got his back. We have to keep fighting. “
It was the fifth time in seven games that they’ve had a double-digit deficit at the half.
The Falcons trailed at Minnesota (21-0), lead at home against the Eagles (10-6), trailed at the Colts (20-3), trailed at home against Tennessee (24-7), led at Houston (17-6) and were down at the Cardinals (20-10).
The Falcons lost all five games they trailed by double digits at halftime and they were blown out in the second half by the Texans.
The Rams added two quick third-quarter touchdowns to take a 27-3 lead and frustrations started to spill over.
Rams tight end Gerald Everett, who’s from Decatur, caught an 8-yard touchdown pass and broke out in the “Dirty Bird” dance in the end zone.
After the Rams went up 20-3, running back Devonta Freeman got into a fight with Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Freeman was "disqualified" from the game for "throwing a punch."
The fight broke out after the Rams picked off a screen pass intended for Mohamed Sanu on the other side of the field. The play was poorly blocked and Sanu bobbled the ball up into the hands of Rams linebacker Cory Littleton.
TV replays show Freeman grabbing Donald’s facemask, while Donald had Freeman lifted up off the ground with two hands before both benches cleared.
Freeman was taken out of the scrum by an official.
Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley and Donald were called for unnecessary roughness on the play.
With Freeman out and Ito Smith out with a head/neck injury, the Falcons were down to running backs Brian Hill and Kenjon Barner.
Smith was carted off the field after a helmet-to-helmet collision with Littleton. The play happened on a third-and-9 from the Rams’ 49 late in the first quarter. On the television replays, Littleton appeared to lower his head as the top of the players’ helmets hit head-on.
Smith, who is 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, fell backward after the hit from the 6-3, 228-pound Littleton. Smith was later ruled out with head and neck injuries.
Falcons players huddle around teammate Ito Smith (25) as he is taken off the field following a head-to-head hit during the first half Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, against the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Credit: Alyssa Pointer
The Falcons opened the game strong on offense and took a 3-0 lead when the opening drive stalled.
The Rams, who’d dropped three in a row, got well against the Falcons’ defense.
The Rams added a field goal by Greg Zuerlein and Rams running back Todd Gurley got open on Falcons linebacker/defensive end Vic Beasley for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-3.
Zuerlein added a 25-yard field goal for the halftime margin.
The Rams added a touchdown with 11 seconds left after a fumbled punt by Russell Gage. Backup defensive back Darious Williams recovered in the end zone for a touchdown
“This is frustrating for all of us,” Quinn said.