LOS ANGELES — Well, that didn’t last long.
The Los Angeles Rams’ first playoff appearance in 13 seasons came to a quick end Saturday night when the young, upstart team led by the NFL’s youngest coach was schooled by Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, who won 26-13 in the first playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1979.
Only six Rams players had playoff experience, including left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who went 0-6 with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Rams fell behind 13-0 thanks to two special teams gaffes by Pro Bowler Pharoh Cooper. Todd Gurley got going too late to help, although he did finish with 101 yards rushing. Jared Goff made some nice passes, but also had some misses and watched his teammates make some drops.
Cooper fumbled on a kickoff return late in the first quarter when he was hit by Damontae Kazee, with Kemal Ishmael recovering at the Rams 32.
Devonta Freeman capped the short drive with a 3-yard scoring run to give the Falcons a 13-0 lead.
Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 29 and 51 yards in the first quarter.
The Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead in last season’s Super Bowl, had their first score set up by a special teams blunder by the Rams that allowed Atlanta to almost completely flip the field.
With the Falcons forced to punt from their 14, Cooper was indecisive and let the ball bounce at about the L.A. 40.
It hit off Blake Countess’ foot during a wild scramble that ended with LaRoy Reynolds recovering at the Rams 17.
The Falcons had to settle for Bryant’s 29-yarder. He kicked a 51-yarder on Atlanta’s next possession.
The Rams had gone from 4-12 in 2016, their first season back in Los Angeles after 22 years in St. Louis, to 11-5 and the NFC West championship under first-year coach Sean McVay.