Monday, December 3, 2007

Jackson's dash is exclamation point


For much of the afternoon, Rams running back Steven Jackson was a marked man. Atlanta regularly stacked the box — the area between the tackles — with eight defenders to "try to make us beat them with the pass," quarterback Gus Frerotte said.

Jackson's first 19 carries netted only 46 yards. But No. 20 was a doozy.

With the Rams clinging to a five-point lead, Jackson barged up the middle, then bounced out to the left side. Once he turned the corner, "all I had to do was outrun them," he said.

The 50-yard dash with 1 minute 17 seconds to go nailed down a 28-16 victory at the Edward Jones Dome. "I think we caught them being overly aggressive," Jackson said. "Most of the time they had a guy watching for the back-side cut. He got a little greedy and we were able to take advantage."

Jackson also caught four passes for 71 yards, giving him a season-high 167 total yards.

PLAY OF THE DAY: Less than 2 minutes remained when Falcons quarterback Chris Redman lofted a ball down the left side, aiming for wideout Michael Jenkins. Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe swooped in for the interception, then raced 27 yards to the 50-yard line.

"I just try to focus on the point of the ball, make sure I catch it first, and then see what happens afterward," said Atogwe, who has a pick in each of the last four games and a team-high five for the year.

GAME BALLS: Rams — WR Torry Holt (6 catches, 135 yards, 1 TD). Falcons — WR Roddy White (10 catches, 146 yards, 1 TD).

WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Two key decisions by coach Bobby Petrino were dubious. He went for two points, and failed, after the Falcons closed to 21-9. An extra-point kick still would have left them a touchdown (plus a 2-pointer) and a field goal shy. Now, they needed two touchdowns. And he went for the TD, and failed, on fourth-and-7 from the Rams 9-yard line at 21-16 with 2:14 left. Kick the short field goal to make it 21-19, then use your three timeouts and the two-minute warning to get the ball back needing only a field goal to win it.

MORE FOR MOORE: Defensive end Eric Moore's first career start was a bit of a surprise. Adam Carriker was introduced as the starter at end opposite Victor Adeyanju, but on Atlanta's opening series, Carriker and La'Roi Glover were at tackle, with Moore on the outside. "It was a last-minute thing," said Moore, a third-year pro. "We look at the formation and see how they line up."

Moore, who has spent most of the season on the practice squad, was credited with two tackles and a team-high three quarterback hurries in the unofficial press-box starts.

HE SAID IT: "There's a closeness that really helped us get through all those tough times. I've definitely been on teams where, had we had as much adversity as we had through those first eight games, we would've been turning on each other." — linebacker Chris Draft.

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