FALCONS 34 RAMS 17 Standing in his end zone, looking for a receiver, Marc Bulger had big plans.
"I was going for a home run," Bulger said.
Atlanta defensive end Brady Smith had other ideas, stripping the ball from Bulger and catching the fumble in the air for a touchdown to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the St. Louis Rams, 34-17, on Sunday.
After the Rams rallied from a 14-0 deficit to tie the game at 17 in the third quarter, the Falcons outscored St. Louis 17-0 in the final quarter.
"That's one of my favorite takeaways of all time," Falcons defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said.
Bulger said: "I was a half-second away from letting the ball go. . . . It could have been a touchdown the other way."
Instead, Smith beat Rams left tackle Orlando Pace and then reached with his left hand for Bulger, knocking the ball loose before Bulger began to bring his arm forward in a passing motion.
"I wish they were all that easy," said Smith, who was credited with a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery in addition to what he said was his first touchdown since high school.
"It's a dream play for a defensive lineman because usually you have to run 80 yards to get in the end zone. It was just right there."
The Falcons' front four had four sacks, including two by end Patrick Kerney (Virginia). Cornerback Bryan Scott added another sack. Bulger wasn't sacked in the Rams' season-opening win over Arizona.
Led by quarterback Michael Vick's 109 rushing yards, the Falcons outgained the Rams 242-30 on the ground.
Bulger passed for 285 yards. Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce combined for 17 catches for 223 yards, but Marshall Faulk was held to 20 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Warrick Dunn rushed for 43 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a sprained left knee in the fourth quarter. His status for the Falcons' home game against Arizona next Sunday was not immediately known.
Following Smith's touchdown, the Falcons' defense delivered another big play when Aaron Beasley ended the next drive with an interception.
Vick recorded the third 100-yard rushing game of his career, and the Falcons ended a seven-game losing streak in the series with the Rams, their former NFC West rival.
Vick "did some things today, we were on the sideline with our mouths open," said Falcons fullback Justin Griffith, who caught four passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. "He's an awesome athlete. It's fun to play with him."
Rams defensive end Leonard Little said the team wanted to contain Vick and make him throw.
"Real clear we weren't able to do that," Little said.