THOUSAND OAKS Authentic Brian Allen Jersey , Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams are trying to get to where the Atlanta Falcons were last season — the Super Bowl.
That’s a lofty goal for the NFL’s youngest team. But Los Angeles (11-5) can take its first step in that direction when hosting the Falcons (10-6) in an NFC wild-card game Saturday night.
In the Rams’ second year in their return to L.A., they will host a playoff game at the storied Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time since the 1978 season.
Atlanta returns to the playoffs after last season’s painful loss in Super Bowl LI. The Falcons led the New England Patriots by 25 points before succumbing, 34-28 in overtime.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn isn’t expecting that meltdown to haunt his squad.
“I love the resiliency and the toughness of this team,” Quinn said. “When you’ve been through some of the fire together, you come out the other side stronger as a brotherhood.”
The Rams have done little wrong under rookie head coach Sean McVay. At 31, McVay is the league’s youngest coach and is directing its most prolific offense.
Behind a unit averaging nearly 30 points per game, McVay helped flip a team that went 4-12 last season to NFC West champions and back in the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Quarterback Jared Goff has gone from bust to being accurate and efficient. Running back Todd Gurley churned out a league-best 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns.
With wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Roberts Woods and rookie Cooper Kupp, there’s no shortage of targets for Goff to aim his passes.
But the Falcons have a core of players and the motivation from that painful Super Bowl lesson tucked away. They are older and maybe wiser, but the No. 3-seeded Rams, aren’t fretting over their lack of postseason reps.
“I don’t think it is a concern,” McVay said. “When I say that, I have a whole lot of respect for experience and what that does and the value that it provides. But I do think that we’ve got a confident group, a mature group for a young football team.”
How Goff responds to the oversized setting is among the red flags the team’s detractors mention. But after going 0-7 in his rookie year, Goff has thrown for 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions this year in leading a balanced attack. He seems at-ease with the task at hand.
“I think more than anything it’s a big game,” Goff said. “I think that’s what it boils down to and we do have experience with that stuff.
“We played a big game in Seattle a couple weeks ago. We played a big game two weeks ago against Tennessee. We played a big game against the Eagles … we had a bunch of big games against top teams this year and so I think that experience will translate mostly to this game.”
Quinn is familiar with Goff’s offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur. He held that same position with the Falcons last year.
“What I have been most impressed by is you have to defend the entire field,” Quinn said of LaFleur’s approach. “When you have a team that has the run Authentic John Kelly Jersey , has the play-action, the quarterback-boot and stuff, it makes it real difficult and challenging to defend.”
The sixth-seeded Falcons will lean on savvy quarterback Matt Ryan (20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) and a deep running attack spearheaded by Devonta Freeman (865 yards, seven touchdowns).
Although Julio Jones has had an inconsistent season, he remains dangerous with 1,444 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
While McVay is the youthful vibe of offense, it’ll be the sage Wade Phillips, the Rams’ 70-year-old defensive coordinator doing his best to stop the Falcons.
All of this will be played out in the historic L.A. Coliseum venue with an expected 70,000 on hand to toast the Rams return to the playoffs in L.A. The Rams left Los Angeles and relocated to St. Louis after the 1994 season, an absence that lasted until 2016.
“It’s definitely a cool thing,” Goff said. “After football has been gone here for so long and we came back year two and being able to bring a playoff game to the Coliseum is very cool.”
WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals will look to continue their domination of the Baltimore Orioles when they play the penultimate game of this season’s Beltway Series Wednesday night at Nationals Park.
Trea Turner went 4-for-4 with a homer, and Anthony Rendon drove in three runs as the Nationals rallied for a 9-7 win on Tuesday night. Washington has won six straight over Baltimore, including all four games this season.
Washington trailed 4-1 entering the fifth inning. Baltimore loaded the bases but scored only one run, that coming on Manny Machado’s double-play grounder. The Nationals loaded the bases and tied it with a four-run fifth and then won it with four in the seventh as Rendon’s two-run double put them ahead.
“This team is starting to become relentless and when you start doing that you put up runs late and that’s a good sign,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said after his team collected 14 hits. “They kept pounding and pounding and pounding, had a couple of big innings there and scored some runs.”
Adam Eaton had two hits and two RBIs for the Nationals (39-32), who have outscored the Orioles by a combined 20-9.
Turner, moved down to the sixth spot in the lineup Tuesday night Kentrell Brice Jersey , homered in the second inning, added a pair of singles and ended his night with a double in the seventh.
“I feel like I’ve been getting decent pitches to hit, just fouling them off or missing them and today it kind of clicked for me,” he said. “I’ve been trying to make some adjustments and felt better.”
Baltimore (20-51) got two-run homers from Jace Peterson and Trey Mancini, and a solo shot from Joey Rickard.
“There were a lot of good at-bats and walks and we didn’t get too overanxious against their first pitcher, but we just weren’t able to stem the tide,” manager Buck Showalter said after the Orioles lost for the 17th time in 20 games.
Washington’s Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.01 ERA) opposes Andrew Cashner (2-8, 4.98) in the middle game of the three-game set.
After a solid first two months of the season, Gonzalez has slipped in June. In his last three starts he has given up 12 runs and 20 hits over 16 1/3 innings (6.61 ERA), though Washington won two of the three.
In his last start, he allowed five runs on nine hits over six-plus innings in a loss to Toronto. He allowed two home runs after giving up just five in his previous 13 starts this season.
Gonzalez is 2-6 with a 3.90 ERA in 11 career starts versus the Orioles, though he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 win over Baltimore on May 28.
Manny Machado is 5-for-16 against Gonzalez, while Adam Jones is 7-for-32 and Mark Trumbo 4-for-20.
Cashner will be activated off the disabled list after missing 10 days due to lower back soreness. The 31-year-old right-hander will be looking to end a personal three-game losing streak, during which the Orioles have scored a total of three runs.
Last time out, Cashner gave up three runs on nine hits over six innings in a 5-1 loss at Toronto.
Cashner is 3-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 13 career games (eight starts) versus Washington.
Daniel Murphy is 6-for-12 against Cashner, Bryce Harper is 5-for-11, and Anthony Rendon is 5-for-12 with a homer.