ATLANTA -- The bookend cornerbacks that were to be the cornerstone of the Atlanta Falcons defense offered few excuses Sunday after they were both burned, make that torched, in St. Louis' 41-20 victory inside the Georgia Dome.
Ashley Ambrose, the prize of the off-season free agency talent pool, was helpless in stopping Torry Holt from catching touchdown passes of 80 and 85 yards.
Ray Buchanan, another former All-Pro player, was vaporized by Issac Bruce on a 66-yard touchdown bomb.
"If you're going to get beat, it might as well be by the best," Buchanan said. "A year ago, they scared themselves with what they were doing. Now they have confidence and they feel likie they can score every time they get the ball."
Well, not every time. But the Rams did score six of the first nine times they had the ball.
"It's our fault," Ambrose said. "We made a lot of mistakes. They've got the best quarterback in the league. But I love the pressure. Keep bringing it."
The 80-yard touchdown from Kurt Warner to Holt actually set the tone in the second quarter for Atlanta's chances. Holt broke toward the sideline for the pass, but the ball was deflected by linebacker Keith Brooking as Ambrose broke toward the sideline for what he hoped would be an interception. With Ambrose breaking toward the sideline, the pass went over Ambrose's head and more downfield. Holt adjusted to the ball and raced the distance for the score.
The other two long touchdowns, however, were simple cases of the receiver out-running the coverage.
"They've got four or five guys out there that can beat you," Ambrose said. "At some point, you have to have somebody singled up. They're that good. At one time, I was thinking we could hold them down to less than 30 points. I think if you keep them to 21 points, you've got a chance."
Nobody's even come close to keeping St. Louis close to the 21-point barrier. The Rams now are averaging 40 points a game as they kickoff defense of their Super Bowl XXXIV championship with a 4-0 start.
When Buchanan was asked if he's ever played against an offense with that many weapons, he didn't hesitate with an answer.
"Not in my lifetime," he said. "I don't know about Jerry Rice and Joe Montana in their heyday, but I can't imagine any offense being as good as this."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW:
The Atlanta Falcons tried to challenge Jamal Anderson's fumble at the Rams 6-yardline early in the third quarter, but National Football League rules don't allow a team to question why or when the whistle is blown.
Anderson ran inside for a one-yard loss four plays after defensive end Patrick Kerney intercepted a Warner pass to set-up a scoring opportunity for the Falcons. As the pileup started to drive backwards, Keith Lyle knocked the ball out of Anderson's hands, then ran 94 yards for a touchdown.
Anderson, who had major re-constructive surgery on his right knee a year ago, said he thought the play was over, so he dropped the ball to protect his knee.
"There's no doubt the play should have been discontinued, if for nothing else, for the player's safety," he said. "It's ridiculous."
Quarterback Chris Chandler had a good view of the play and offered this account:
"Yeah it was a questionable call," he said. "If his forward progress wasn't stopped, I don't know what has to happen to a guy."
The Falcons tried to challenge where Lyle was on the ground by contact before he emerged fromt he scrum with the ball. That challenge failed.
Anderson sat out the next two series with a twisted knee, but he returned in the fourth quarter.
"I think he's OK," coach Dan Reeves said. "I think he got his knee sprained a little bit. He went back into the ballgame and played."
FOR THE RECORD:
Torry Holt's three catches for 189 yards gave him a 63-yards-a-catch average and an NFL record.
Also, Patrick Kerney's interception in the third quarter was his first as a professional and tight end Reggie Kelly's 37-yard catch early in the fourth quarter was his first touchdown.
Finally, Chandler's interception in the first quarter broke a string of 149 consecutive passes without an interception that dated back to the 13th game last year at San Francisco.
There were 12,467 unused or unsold tickets for Sunday's game. Neither of Atlanta's two home games this year have come close to a sellout. In fact, Saturday night's college football game between Florida A&M and Tennessee State drew 4,000 more fans at the Georgia Dome than the showdown for the NFC West lead. Florida A&M and Tennessee State, by the way, are six hours away from Atlanta ... Travis Claridge, the Falcons' second round pick nearly six months ago, started at right tackle. Counting his days at Southern Cal, he's been a starter in every college and professional game -- a run of 48 games -- in his career ... The 85-yard touchdown pass from Warner to Holt was the longest in Georgia Dome history ... The Falcons did a good job holding down the St. Louis running game to 74 yards. In fact, the Rams became only the fifth team to beat a Reeves-coached team in Atlanta with less than 100 rushing yards. Reeves has lost 25 times as the Falcons coach.
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