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but long-awaited party ends early for Rams,NFL playoffs return to L.A.

but long-awaited party ends early for Rams,NFL playoffs return to L.A.

But that feels like an eternity ago now, as a surreal celebration is underway on the blacktop of Lot 2. Music is blaring. The smell of barbecue is in the air. The beer is flowing, selfies are being snapped, and the mood is electric. Strangers pass and toast red cups, flashing the same stunned look. How did we get here? They all seem to wonder.

 as the Rams’ comeback efforts fell short against the Falcons,The euphoria will wear off in the hours to come, long before the result is final, that they never expected to be here at all. Not only did the Rams return to the postseason, where the franchise hadn’t been since 2004, their playoff party ending after just one wild night. But even the wildest of optimists in Lot 2 will admit, they hosted a playoff game in Southern California for the first time since Jan. 4, 1986.

 the Rams shut out the Cowboys,That day, in Anaheim. Three weeks later, Sean McVay, 20-0, the wunderkind coach behind the Rams’ revival, was born.

Mark Millsap was in the Anaheim Stadium stands for that final playoff game in the Southland. He wore an Eric Dickerson jersey and watched as the Rams back tore through the Dallas defense for 248 yards. Eight years later, when the Rams moved to St. Louis, Millsap drew a red line through the middle of that jersey in a fit of rage.

 Millsap stood on the blacktop in a hard hat outfitted with Rams horns,He never imagined then that they might return. But 32 years later, and Millsap can’t help but wonder if the decades of exile were all leading to this., wearing the jersey of Dickerson’s heir apparent, he turns to his son, Mark, who,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/aaron-donald-jersey-authentic]Womens Aaron Donald Jersey[/url], Todd Gurley. As the party carries on around him, though, like the Rams coach, wasn’t born the last time the Rams played a playoff game in Southern California. Now, father and son are together amid this euphoric sea of Rams jerseys

“I think it was meant to be,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/todd-gurley-jersey-authentic]Womens Todd Gurley II Jersey[/url],” Millsap says.“I was thinking about that today. If they would’ve never left, we wouldn’t have Sean McVay. Everything would be different. It all fell into place. It came full circle.”

Here, at this tailgate, there’s plenty of talk of destiny. It’s the only explanation that seems to justify how this turnaround came to be, but inside the Coliseum,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/jared-goff-jersey-authentic]Womens Jared Goff Jersey[/url], the sentimentality fades into the ecstasy of the moment.

 questions of whether the team might ever catch on in the city have raged on. But on this particular night,Since the Rams return, as game time approaches. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner who presided over the Rams return, walks the first row of bleachers obliging autographs and snapping selfies. Goodell’s presence at most NFL stadiums often elicits boos, the buzz in the building is at a fevered pitch,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/pharoh-cooper-jersey-authentic]Womens Pharoh Cooper Jersey[/url], but here, the sentiment in the building leaves no room for negativity.

One poster Goodell signs reads “Why not us? Why not now?” And until the final whistle blew and the team’s charmed season met its end, it certainly felt like this night belonged to the Rams. Before the game, as a Kendrick Lamar bass line quaked through the entire bowl, fans danced on bleachers across the stadium. Players bounced to the beat as they stretched. It wasn’t until the game started that their energy turned anxious and frenetic.

Rams legends, lined the sidelines. Celebrities made appearances. Snoop Dogg performed at halftime,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/jamon-brown-jersey-authentic]Authentic Jamon Brown Jersey[/url], splicing the Rams name into a medley of his greatest hits. It was one hell of a party, from Eric Dickerson to Torry Holt to Steven Jackson, rapping in a suitable fog of smoke, in a city that lives for such nights.

“We stuck it out all of these years,” said Dave Stanley, one of the original members of the Rams’ fan group, the Melonheads. “We hung with the Rams. Now, it’s all worth it.”

For the rest of Los Angeles? Only time will tell whether the Rams have won them over. A long playoff run might’ve gone a long way towards making that a reality.

 the apathy and empty seats were a distant memory. The playoff drought was over. After 32 years,But for one night, however briefly, to Los Angeles. And after a miraculous, the NFL postseason returned, one-year turnaround for the Rams, it seems clear that the city won’t have to wait much longer to experience it again.

 according to a school spokesman.,Construction began Monday on USC’s $270 million project to renovate the historic stadium at Exposition Park in Los Angeles

The start of construction had been delayed about a week while the Rams, who shared the Coliseum this past season, the school also said., hosted the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC wild-card playoff game Saturday night. Rain on Monday in L.A. did not delay the start of the project

 which was concluded with their 26-13 loss to Atlanta.,Senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes said earlier in the fall that construction was scheduled to begin once the Rams’ season ended

The timeline of the renovation is not expected to be impacted.

 construction would have been delayed an additional week and possibly longer if they won in the divisional round and hosted the NFC Championship Game on  Jan. 21.,Had the Rams instead defeated the Falcons

An official groundbreaking ceremony will be held later this month

The project, commences the first major upgrades for the Coliseum in two decades., scheduled to be completed by the 2019 season

Capacity will ultimately shrink from about 94,500 and include the addition of luxury boxes and club suites.,000 to 77

 then resume once their 2018 season ends.,Construction will start with the building of a so-called scholarship tower on the south side that will hold the luxury boxes and club suites. It will halt in August prior to the Rams’ first preseason game

Capacity will be about 80, prompting USC to twice reseat season-ticket holders for this fall and in 2019.,000 in 2018 while the renovation is underway

The Rams will play two more seasons at the Coliseum before moving to their new stadium in Inglewood in 2020.

 USC is required to fund the upgrades for the Coliseum after it obtained management control of the stadium.,Under its lease

Led by the 31-year-old McVay, the Rams (11-5) are in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. The NFC’s third seed drew a tough matchup with 2016 league MVP Ryan and the Falcons (10-6), who grew up near Atlanta, who appear capable of making another conference run., and a roster of playmakers including Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald

But the Rams expect to feed off the excitement of a city hosting its first playoff game since the L.A. Raiders’ last postseason trip 24 years ago.

“It’s definitely a cool thing,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/tyler-higbee-jersey-authentic]Authentic Tyler Higbee Jersey[/url],” Goff said. “After football has been gone from here for so long, that’s very cool.”, and we come back in Year 2 and are able to bring a playoff game to the Coliseum

Goff, who is in the playoffs for the sixth time in 10 years. Both teams have a wealth of offensive playmakers, the second-year pro coming off a transformative 3, from Rams MVP candidate Gurley to star Falcons receiver Julio Jones.,804-yard season , is eager to face off with Ryan

 but coach Dan Quinn kept this bunch together — and now they’re the only group in the six-team NFC field that also made the playoffs last season.,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/todd-gurley-jersey-authentic]Authentic Todd Gurley II Jersey[/url],The Falcons are back for their first postseason game since that memorable Super Bowl collapse against New England. That loss could have broken weaker teams

” Quinn said.,“I love the resiliency and the toughness of this team

 we’re certainly improved.”,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/jared-goff-jersey-authentic]Authentic Jared Goff Jersey[/url],“When you’ve been through some of the fire together and you come out the other side stronger as a brotherhood

Although both defenses are statistically solid, but the Rams took over the top spot this year in McVay’s worst-to-first revitalization of the L.A. offense., this game could turn into a shootout. The Falcons led the NFL in scoring last season

 while Goff and the versatile Gurley are eager to make their first mark on postseason football.,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/pharoh-cooper-jersey-authentic]Authentic Pharoh Cooper Jersey[/url],Ryan and Jones have the skills to pick at the Rams’ secondary if Donald can’t be disruptive

While the Falcons know everything about playoff pressure, who went 0-6 in Cincinnati. McVay also is the youngest head coach in a playoff game in NFL history., the Rams seriously lack experience: Just six of their players have been in postseason games — including star left tackle Andrew Whitworth

“That’s really not an excuse for us, who cited the Rams’ series of games against playoff-bound teams down the regular-season stretch as good experience under pressure.,” said Whitworth

About the only thing the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams have in common entering their NFC playoff game on Saturday is both teams used victories in Seattle to propel them toward the postseason.

The Falcons (10-6) are still working to take the sting out of the meltdown in last year’s Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan leads a once-prolific offense that has struggled to find consistency under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

The Rams (11-5) are the new kids on the playoff block,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/tyler-higbee-jersey-authentic]Womens Tyler Higbee Jersey[/url],led by 31-year-old coach Sean McVay, as the Rams led the NFL with an average of 29.9 points per game during the regular season.,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/rob-havenstein-jersey-authentic]Authentic Rob Havenstein Jerseyy[/url],  who turned second-year quarterback Jared Goff from a bust into a solid starting NFL quarterback over the course of one offseason. In fact, Los Angeles resembles the Atlanta attack of last season

000 fans for the first NFL playoff game at the stadium in 40 years. Heightening the drama is the 8:15 p.m. (NBC) primetime start.,The juxtaposition of the two franchises makes for an interesting storyline as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is expecting 70

 but they nearly didn’t get the opportunity to see the playoff stage for the second consecutive year.,[url=http://www.ramsfootballauthentic.com/rob-havenstein-jersey-authentic]Womens Rob Havenstein Jersey[/url],The Falcons have been answering questions about the 25-point blown lead against the Patriots for 11 months

 it would have been the Falcons’ three-point victory in Seattle on Nov. 20 that would have proved the tiebreaker.,Atlanta needed a victory against the Carolina Panthers last week to secure the final NFC playoff berth and officially knock the Seahawks out of contention. If not for an inconsequential missed field goal at the end of the Seahawks’ game on Sunday

In some respects, and they enter the playoffs with very modest expectations nationally — even as the only team in the conference to return to the postseason from last season., the Falcons could now been seen as playing with house money. They were the third NFC South team to make the field

“I love the resiliency and the toughness of this team, you come out the other side stronger as a brotherhood.”,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “When you’ve been through some of the fire together

The Rams have the youngest team in the league, but Los Angeles is also not burdened by the ghosts of playoffs past., which can be a Catch-22. Postseason experience can be invaluable during the pivotal moments of a playoff game

The young Rams served notice of their immense potential with a 42-7 shellacking of the Seahawks — who had won the NFC West three of the previous four years — in Seattle two weeks ago. Atlanta enters Saturday with 141 combined games of playoff experience on its roster. Los Angeles? Just 21.

“I don’t think it is a concern,” McVay said. “When I say that, a mature group for a young football team.”, 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

 the most recent being a 42-14 victory in 2016. But these are two vastly different teams now.,The Falcons have won the past four meetings