With Jones and Sanu out, wide receivers stepped up

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

With starters Julio Jones (turf toe) and Mohamed Sanu (groin) out, the Falcons’ backup wide receivers knew they would be on the spot against the Los Angeles Rams.

They all chipped in to help carry the offense against a stout Rams defense in the 42-14 rout on Sunday.

Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel had touchdown catches while Aldrick Robinson and Nick Williams chipped in with key catches as the team’s running game was put on ice.

“Credit Hardy, Nick Williams and Al for going out there and doing their thing,” Gabriel said. “I just credit those guys. There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind that those guys were going to do what they did.”

The decision to sit Jones was made about two hours before kickoff. Sanu was declared out on Friday.

After the Falcons recovered the opening kickoff, Hardy caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan on a back-shoulder fade.

Gabriel scored his sixth touchdown of the season on a 64-yard pass play in the third quarter to put the Falcons up 28-0.

“It was a coverage that we were looking for all game,” Gabriel said. (Offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) drew it up and we executed it. You have to give credit to the offensive line and Matt for throwing the perfect ball.”

At the end of the play, Gabriel eased his way into the front corner of the end zone.

“It wasn’t a dance,” Gabriel said. “It was all business.”

Williams led the Falcons with four catches and had 49 yards. Gabriel had three catches for 82 yards. Robinson had three catches for 42 yards. Hardy had two catches for 9 yards.

“It’s a brotherhood,” Robinson said. “If my brother can’t fight, I have to fight for him. Everybody knew that and we all stepped up.”

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