ATLANTA - The Atlanta Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams 31-24 at the Georgia Dome Sunday afternoon to improve to 1-1 on the season and drop the Rams to 1-1 on the year.
New Falcons tailback Steven Jackson scored first for Atlanta against his former team, hauling in a short touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan in the opening quarter. Then Ryan connected with Julio Jones on an 81-yard catch-and-run score with just 1:19 left in the first period.
New Atlanta defensive end Osi Umenyiora returned an interception 68 yards to put the Falcons ahead 21-0 early in the second quarter. A St. Louis field goal later in the period accounted for the Rams' first-half points. Matt Bryant booted a 37-yard field goal nine seconds before halftime to complete the Falcons' scoring before the break.
St. Louis finally reached the end zone with 1:30 left in the third on a short TD pass from Sam Bradford to rookie wideout Tavon Austin, cutting Atlanta's lead to 24-10. The Rams then scored twice in the fourth period, pulling within 31-24 with 2:09 to go.
With two timeouts in its pocket and the two-minute warning break, St. Louis elected to eschew an onside kick. The Falcons ended any doubt by hitting running back Jason Snelling out of the backfield for a big gain on 3rd and 1 to run out the clock.
At least for the short term, Atlanta's home opener proved costly injury-wise as Jackson, defensive lineman Kroy Biermann and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon all left the game with injuries.
Atlanta visits Miami for a 4:05 kickoff on Sunday, while the Rams visit the Cowboys for a 1 p.m. kick.