Game #1: St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons
Exactly five years ago, on December 28, 2003, I saw the St. Louis Rams play in Detroit on the final weekend of the season. Five years later, on December 28, 2008, I again saw the St. Louis Rams play on the final weekend of the season. This time they were in Atlanta.
Pre Game Dining
After checking into the W Hotel Midtown, Nicole and I immediately went for Sunday brunch at Einstein’s located at 1077 Juniper St. – about two blocks south of the W Hotel. Einstein’s has won several awards for Best Brunch and Best Outdoor Dining (of course, it was too cold to eat outside), including Best of Gay Atlanta 2008.
After brunch I walked back to the hotel and took the free shuttle service the W Hotel was offering. They drove me directly to the Georgia Dome. Scalpers had plenty of tickets so I started the negotiating process. I offered $20 for a ticket that had a $65 face value. That offer was not accepted. I found another ticket that had a $25 face value and offered $10. That offer was turned down as well. Eventually, I had offered $40 for the $65 ticket to one scalper and $25 for the $25 ticket to another. My $25 offer was turned down and after walking away multiple times, the other scalper finally accepted my $40 offer.
My seat was 6 rows up in the upper deck and on the 40 yard line. The $25 seats at the Georgia Dome are behind the end zone. The Atlanta Falcons defeated the St. Louis Rams 31-27 in a back and forth game which saw the lead change seven times. Michael Turner rushed for 208 yards which is the most rushing yards I have ever witnessed. Before this game, I had seen 12 running backs rush for over 150 yards:
208 yards – Michael Turner 12/28/2008
201 yards – Ryan Grant 01/12/2008
188 yards – Barry Sanders 12/04/1994
187 yards – Garrison Hearst 09/06/1998
176 yards – Ahman Green 09/29/2003
173 yards – Anthony Thomas 12/16/2001
171 yards – Clinton Portis 10/17/2004
170 yards – Robert Smith 10/15/2000
164 yards – James Stewart 12/17/2000
160 yards – Anthony Thomas 01/06/2002
159 yards – Travis Henry 10/13/2002
157 yards – Ronnie Brown 11/05/2006
154 yards – Derrick Ward 12/02/2007
There was one questionable replay call during the game. Michael Turner broke a 70-yard run, but lost the ball inside of the Rams’ 5 yard line when he was hit from behind by Rams’ cornerback Ron Bartell. Bartell recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback. One official called the ball down and another official called it a fumble. The officials huddled and ruled Turner had fumbled before he hit the ground. Of course, the play was reviewed and replays on the video board showed that Michael Turner’s knee had hit the ground before the ball was fumbled. However, referee Walt Anderson upheld the ruling on the field. Go figure.
After that Falcons fans booed Anderson with every call until, which seemed simultaneous, Jerious Norwood scored the winning touchdown and the scoreboard showed that the New Orleans Saints had taken a one point lead over the Carolina Panthers. The Georgia Dome erupted. If the Saints had beaten the Panthers, the Falcons would have clinched the number two seed – giving them a home game and a first round bye. Instead, the Panthers won their game which sent the Falcons to Phoenix for a first-round game against the Cardinals.