Jones has huge day, Atlanta Falcons hold off St. Louis Rams 31-24

Jones has huge day, Atlanta Falcons hold off St. Louis Rams 31-24

September 16th, 2013 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Professional

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) stretches after making a catch against St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) and St. Louis Rams defensive end Eugene Sims (97) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Atlanta.

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

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.