LOS ANGELES – The defending NFC champion Atlanta Falcons showed the upstart Los Angeles Rams what playoff poise is all about.
Matt Ryan passed for 218 yards and hit Julio Jones for an 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the Falcons advanced from the wild-card round with a methodical 26-13 victory over the Rams on Saturday night.
Devonta Freeman ran for an early score and Matt Bryant kicked four field goals, including two from beyond 50 yards, as the Falcons (11-6) spoiled the Rams' first playoff game in 13 years while showing off the postseason poise Atlanta earned from last year's journey to the Super Bowl.
"I think having gone through these situations, understanding what it's like, the atmosphere, those kinds of things, knowing that it's going to be tough, all those things kind of carry forward," Ryan said. "But at the end of the day, experience or no experience, you've got to execute."
The Falcons advanced to face the top-seeded Eagles on Saturday in Philadelphia.
"Doesn't matter where we're going, we're going," Ryan said. "And that's the most exciting part."
Jones caught nine passes for 94 yards as the Atlanta offense chewed up the clock and field position. The Falcons jumped to an early 13-0 lead while capitalizing on two early mistakes by Rams Pro Bowl returner Pharoh Cooper.
The Atlanta defense did more than enough to slow the NFL's highest-scoring offense, harassing Jared Goff into a 24-for-45 performance in his playoff debut.
Robert Woods caught nine passes for 142 yards for the NFC West champion Rams (11-6). Rookie Cooper Kupp scored Los Angeles' only TD late in the first half.
Atlanta held MVP candidate Todd Gurley to 101 yards rushing — only 43 in the first three quarters — and four receptions for a mere 10 yards.
The loss ruined a celebratory night for the Rams, who rebounded from a rough homecoming 2016 season with an outstanding debut year under Sean McVay, at 31 the youngest head coach to reach the playoffs in NFL history.
A raucous crowd of 74,300 packed the Coliseum for the first NFL playoff game in the nation's second-largest city since early 1994, cheering on a team that ended a 13-year streak of non-winning seasons.
But the Falcons have been here before, and they showed it.
"You see why the Falcons are the defending NFC champs," McVay said. "Certainly this is a humbling game. … This is an experience that we can learn from. But I don't think this game was too big for our guys."