LOS ANGELES — Todd Gurley II, the Los Angeles Rams‘ running back, fell on his face while running a sweep to the left side. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan slipped twice, first on a sack and then on a touchdown pass.
Saturday’s wild-card game, which ended in a 26-13 win by the Falcons, was played on a slippery Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum field that claimed several victims, especially in the first half.
“The conditions were slick, for sure,” Ryan said of the natural grass surface.
“It was pretty bad,” Gurley said. “But they’ve got the same field that we’ve got.”
The slippery conditions were seemingly caused by the later kickoff, at 5:15 p.m. PT. When the sun set and the dew settled in, players weren’t necessarily outfitted with the longer cleats to initially battle the slick conditions.
Several skill-position players switched out their cleats at halftime, including Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who switched them out twice.
“I’ve been on worse,” Freeman said.
“Yeah, it was slick,” Donald added. “But you still have to find a way to keep your balance and get to the quarterback.”
The Coliseum is almost a century old, but slippery conditions hadn’t really been an issue this season, even for USC games played at night. Colder temperatures also played a part. The Coliseum field received a fresh batch of turf after the Nov. 26 game against the New Orleans Saints, making this only the third contest played on the new grass.
“It does have a little effect on the game, just cutting, coming off the line, making your cuts, having full force when you’re making that cut to get upfield,” said Rams return specialist Pharoh Cooper, who fumbled a kickoff and had a hand in a muffed punt. “But we ain’t going to blame it on the field. We lost the game. We just lost.”
Information from ESPN’s Vaughn McClure contributed to this report.