Saints 17 @ Falcons 14: The Morning After

ATLANTA GA - DECEMBER 27: One of these fans is not like the other. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Heh. I guess Trent Dilfer was right all along.

  • The offensive line play was abhorrent. They seemed to have no answer for John Abraham and the rest of Atlanta's pass rush. This is a serious area of concern for me personally as the Saints move forward. Jon Stinchcomb was over-matched. Jermon Bushrod played particularly poor. Including two false start penalties, he did everything he could to get out of the way against the pass rusher on that second interception. 
  • It was this constant pressure that forced Drew to nearly throw the game away and make a few Favre-like decisions that he had no business making. Some plays, like the backhanded 'Chris Paul' shovel pass to Pierre Thomas for no gain turned out okay. Others, like the intercepted flip pass, were disastrous. But I guess when it comes to Drew and his decisions, you take the good, you take the bad. You take them all, and there you have: the facts of life. He looked nimble out there as well, doing a splendid job of sensing the pass rush and getting the hell away from it. This is the second week I have commented on Drew's footwork. That brand new bionic knee has done wonders.  
  • Gotta give credit to the Saints running backs for the good job they did all night with their blitz pick up assignments, however. Reggie and Pierre both. 
  • Will Smith had a great night. Glad he decided to show up in this all important game. He had the teams only sack, made a nice tackle in the backfield and was in Matt Ryan's face consistently. 
  • The offensive game plan once again included an unbalanced, pass-heavy attack. The Saints called 49 passing plays to only 22 runs, not including Drew's kneel downs. Once again, I still think the Saints would be better off running the ball more and Payton is being a little stubborn. But I think that's just the identity Payton has carved out for this team; an identity he will win or lose by. I think it's time we all just accept it and move on. 
  • A note on one play however. Even though it turned out well, I don't like the dump off pass to Pierre Thomas with less than two minutes left when you really just want to run the clock out and force Atlanta to use their timeouts. I think running the ball would have been the orthodox thing to do. Then again, when has Payton ever been orthodox.
  • Roddy White can eat me. Three catches for 43 yards? I'm not impressed.
  • Yet another game filled with Saints penalties. Eight of them for a total of 92 yards to be exact. That included two Jermon Bushrod false starts and back-to-back pass interference calls on Tracy Porter. Some of them were stupid and uncalled for like Jo-Lonn Dunbar's unnecessary roughness penalty. The unsportsmanlike conduct called on Leigh Torrence during a Reggie Bush punt return was probably the most egregious. He got an earful from Payton on the sideline afterward. 
  • There were a total of 15 punts in this game.  Seven by the Saints and eight from the Falcons. That's quite a lot. 
  • I imagine it was part of the defensive game plan to shut down Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez because that's what they did. Gonzo was limited to just two catches for 12 yards. 
  • Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham is a difference-maker in yet another game. Like Jeremy Shockey in the Super Bowl, Graham scored the game-winning touchdown on almost the same exact play.
  • Props to Jeff Charleston for popping the ball loose during the Saints goal line stand and causing the turnover that changed the game. 
  • Another bright spot was the special teams play of Patrick Robinson. He was an ace in punt coverage early in the game. 
  • Is Payton awesome at video replay challenges or what!?
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