But Atlanta have the play-off experience, players who have been there and done it, and a side that is hungry to set the record straight after a humiliating loss to the New England Patriots in Houston last February.
LOS ANGELES (AP) Matt Ryan passed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown with 5:48 to play, and the defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons advanced from the wild-card round with a methodical victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
All of those close calls and near misses are positive signs heading into the postseason, according to Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. And the Falcons would have had poor field position for nearly the entire game had it not been for those recoveries. "We're battle ready. I think that's important when you get to this time of year".
Devonta Freeman rushed for an early score and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals for the Falcons (11-6), who spoiled the Rams' first playoff game in 13 years while showing off the postseason poise they earned from last season's journey to the Super Bowl.
This year may not have been the year for the Rams to win a second championship, but they are not going anywhere and will be an NFC contender for the foreseeable future.
Not getting in their own way, like the Chargers are excellent at, is one thing.
Against Seattle, Gurley scored four touchdowns in addition to 180 yards from scrimmage.
Unlike these Rams, those 49ers had the same coach, Jack Christiansen, in both seasons.
After the 2003 year where a fractured fibula took Vick out for the most of the season and dashed away any chances for the Falcons that year, a new system under Jim Mora took place as well as the drafting of Roddy White, signing of defensive tackle Rod Coleman, and the continuing emergence of LB Keith Brooking and DE Patrick Kerney. Ryan, pressured by Connor Barwin, slipped on the play-action play yet still had the presence to loft a flawless pass to Jones' back shoulder for the most important touchdown of the game.
Gurley's had an MVP-caliber season. "I'm lucky to be where I am", Phillips said recently.
"I just look at the last ballgame". For a guy who had his size, he had exceptional ability to put his foot in the ground and accelerate out.
"I don't see a whole lot of difference, except the Super Bowl is the one that stands out from all the other playoff games, as opposed to the big games you play during the year".
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