The Los Angeles Rams will face the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC wild card round game Saturday night, the first NFL playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1993.
The Rams concluded the regular season with a 34-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at the Coliseum, with running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, both Pro Bowl selections, and quarterback Jared Goff among the 13 starters given the day off by coach Sean McVay to avoid the possibility of injuries and to give them rest in advance of the playoffs.
The NFC West champion Rams finished the regular season 11-5, their best record since 2003 when they were based in St. Louis. The Rams are the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs. Atlanta is seeded sixth with a 10-6 record and are the NFC’s second wild card team.
If the Rams defeat the Falcons, they would play NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings in a divisional round playoff game Jan. 14 in Minneapolis, under the playoff brackets announced by the NFL on Sunday. The Rams last playoff victory was in 2004, when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 27-20, in a wild card round game.
The Rams never led Sunday, allowing the first 10 points and trailing 10-3 at the end of the first quarter, 20-6 at halftime and 27-6 entering the fourth quarter.
Sean Mannion, who started in place of Goff, completed 20 of 34 passes for 169 yards, in the first start of his three-season NFL career. Lance Dunbar ran eight yards with six minutes, 40 seconds to play for the Rams lone touchdown.
Sam Ficken kicked a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter and 21- yard field goal as time expired in the first half for the Rams.
The Rams were outgained, 463 yards to 251, and trailed 25-15 in first downs. They led in time of possession, 30:51-29:09.
Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns in his fifth victory in five games since becoming the 49ers quarterback Dec. 5. Garoppolo completed 20 of 33 passes and had two passes intercepted. Carlos Hyde ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries for San Francisco (6-10).
Robbie Gould opened the scoring with a 33-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive. He also kicked a 48-yard field goal with five minutes left in the second quarter for the 49ers.
The then-Los Angeles Raiders defeated the Denver Broncos, 42-24, in an AFC wild card round playoff game on Jan. 9, 1994, the most recent NFL playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
–City News Service