I don't know about you, but that's EXACTLY how I envisioned the game ending. (Yeah, right.)
The Saints defense and offense both complement each other just poorly enough to choke on a 10-point lead in the waning minutes of regulation, allowing for the 23-23 tie. Then, the previously porous defense absolutely crushes the Falcons offensive line into fine red and black powder, smothering Michael Turner in the backfield on fourth and inches from Atlanta's 29-yard line, virtually giving the game to the Saints. BINGO! That's how I drew it up all week long. Check my comments and predictions and you'll see.
Make the jump for the post-game breakdown in a feast of links, videos, and quotes. But pace yourself, as it has to last a whole two weeks. The Saints don't play again until the New York Giants come to town on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
NFL Game Center: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons - nfl.com
Includes statistics, drive charts, play-by-play, highlights, and my favorite, the NFL Gamebook of the game.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons - ESPN.com
NFL Football Recap: Final statistics from the New Orleans vs. Atlanta game played on November 13, 2011. Includes play-by-play, drive charts, photo gallery, and highlights.
New Orleans Saints stuff Atlanta Falcons 26-23 in overtime | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Defensive stand, John Kasay 26-yard FG sends Saints to win.
Fourth-down stop, Kasay’s field goal lift Saints over Falcons | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - It’s no secret that the New Orleans Saints defense had difficulty stopping short-yardage running plays earlier this season, which was all Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith needed to know in overtime of Sunday’s game in the Georgia Dome.
Saints Postgame Notes | neworleanssaints.com
Rapid Reaction: Saints 26, Falcons 23 (OT) - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Pat Y. - Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 26-23 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
Saints-Falcons Photo Gallery II | NOLA.com
From the Saints Sideline
Report: Jonathan Vilma had surgery - NFC South Blog | ESPN.com
Pat Y. - On Thursday, New Orleans coach Sean Payton said linebacker Jonathan Vilma had not had surgery on his injured knee. (HansDat note: But guess what, Pat. Payton lied.)
Sean Payton returns to New Orleans Saints sideline vs. Falcons | NOLA.com
James Varney - News and notes from Sunday's NFC South showdown.
Payton back on sideline for Saints | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - The New Orleans Saints had coach Sean Payton back on the sideline Sunday for the first time since Oct. 16 when they played the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome.
Saints get presence of Sean Payton back on sideline in win over Atlanta | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Saints coach Sean Payton was on the sideline Sunday for New Orleans’ 26-23 overtime win against Atlanta, his first game from outside of the coaches’ booth in nearly a month.
Saints edge Falcons thanks to Mike Smith's scarecrow call | sportsnola.com
Brian Allee-Walsh - Next time, Dorothy and her friends set out in search of The Wizard, Mike Smith might think about tagging along.
Saints beat Falcons despite not rushing ball well | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - For the first time this season, the Saints won a game in which they couldn’t run the ball. New Orleans finished with just 41 yards on 16 carries in its 26-23 overtime win against Atlanta, making the Saints 1-3 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards.
Colston plays big role in win | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - One doesn’t catch 403 passes and 43 touchdowns in the NFL, as New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston has done over the past five-plus seasons, without having huge games here and there.
Saints WR Colston comes up huge in win over Falcons | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Marques Colston is quiet and unassuming. He’s not a flashy dresser or a trash-talker. What he was on Sunday was clutch, catching eight passes for 113 yards.
Saints come up huge on overtime fourth down | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Just before Atlanta called a timeout prior to a fourth-and-inches play and right after a review nullified what was originally ruled a first down, Saints defensive end Will Smith thought he knew exactly what was going to happen.
Saints win moment that matters against Atlanta | wwltv.com
Bradley Handwerger - Saints coach Sean Payton loves to break the football season down into quarters. Sunday’s 26-23 overtime win against Atlanta, though, came down to a moment.
New Orleans Saints proved a lot with win over Atlanta Falcons | NOLA.com
Peter Finney - It was a game the Saints won and lost, then lost and won.
New Orleans Saints' Roman Harper was good to the last drop | NOLA.com
John DeShazier - Safety had game-high 13 tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two QB hurries.
Grading the New Orleans Saints coaches vs. the Falcons | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett (HansDat note: two typos in this one!)
Grading the New Orleans Saints' special teams vs. the Falcons | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett (HansDat note: one sin of omission in this one!)
OK, so it didn't work, but Mike Smith made the right choice | ajc.com
Mark Bradley of the AJC has no problems with Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith going for it on fourth-and-inches at the 30 in overtime. (Didn't work, though.)
Saints defeat Falcons 26-23 in overtime | ajc.com
D. Orlando Ledbetter - Falcons coach Mike Smith made a gutsy fourth-down call that backfired, allowing the New Orleans Saints to post a 26-23 victory on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
Falcons fail to pressure Brees | ajc.com
Chris Viviamore - The Georgia Dome turf aside, Drew Brees headed back to New Orleans with a clean uniform. The Falcons failed for most of Sunday’s 26-23 overtime loss to pressure the Saints quarterback.
Douglas steps in, steps up for injured Jones | ajc.com
Chris Viviamore - Don’t forget about Harry Douglas. The Falcons wide receiver has not played a significant role in the offense this season.
Q&A: Smith takes ‘full responsibility’ for the gamble | ajc.com
D. Orlando Ledbetter - Falcons coach Mike Smith said the plan all week was to be aggressive against the New Orleans Saints.
No Shortage of Drama | atlantafalcons.com
Daniel Cox - It was another game for the ages in the long history book of Falcons-Saints matchups.
Overtime Agony | atlantafalcons.com
Jay Adams - As the battle for the top spot in the NFC South heated up Sunday, the Falcons found themselves in solid position to gain control of their own destiny.
Blame begins, ends with Mike Smith - NFC South Blog | ESPN.com
Pat Y. - When he walks into a postgame news conference, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith typically gives an opening statement.
Mike Smith (courtesy ajc.com)
OPENING STATEMENT: I thought it was a heck of a football game. I felt that our guys played extremely hard beyond 60 minutes. But the bottom line today was that we didn't make the plays that we needed to make and the Saints made more plays than we did. We are disappointed with the outcome of the game, without a doubt. But this is a very good football team. That is a very good football team over there. Unfortunately, we did not make the plays.
ON THE FOURTH DOWN DECISION: It was something that I take full responsibility for. It is my decision and my decision solely. At first, we were going to punt the football. I had a change of heart and I wanted us to go for it. I thought the ball was inside of half a yard and I thought we could get it. I didn't want to give the ball back to the Saints. In previous games, in close games that we played them, we punted the ball and they've gotten the ball back with three minutes to go in the game and we never saw it again and they ended up winning the ball game. That was the decision-making process that I went through.
ON THE RUN BY MIKE COX: The review kicked in and it was not a first down. We had fourth and inches. We had to make a decision. Unfortunately, the decision that we made did not work out today. Again, it's not anybody's fault. It's my responsibility as the head football coach, you have to make tough decisions in a football game and I take full responsibility for it.
ON NOT RUNNING A QB SNEAK ON FOURTH DOWN: We had talked about that as well. We'd gone through the process. This isn't something that you just do hap hazardly. These are things that you talk about. You got fourth- and-inches calls. You've got fourth-and-1 calls, you've got fourth-and-3 calls. Seeing the way that they'd lined up because they called timeout, we felt like at that point that the best play for us to run was the play that we ran. Unfortunately it did not work out.
ON IF HE CHANGED PLAYS WHEN THEY CALLED TIMEOUT: I don't want to talk about that in terms of the plays that we had. I think that would give our competitors down the road an advantage.
ON SENDING OUT THE PUNT TEAM AND THEN RECALLING THEM: Just the down and distance and it went through my mind in terms of what happened in the previous games where we had been stopped with three or four minutes to go in the ball game twice before in the six games that we've played and we did not get the ball back. I felt like if we're not going to be able to move the ball two or three inches, then we probably are not going to win the football game. That was the decision making process and it was something that I had talked to the coaching staff about. If fact, we had practiced a couple of plays on Saturday and had some discussions about what we'd run in certain situations.
ON THE DEFENSE: We gave up some big plays in the passing game especially. In certain personnel groupings they were able to hold the ball and throw the ball down the field.
ON THEIR MINDSET IN OVERTIME: When you get the ball, you want to go ahead and try to end it. We felt like we'd been very aggressive in everything that we did throughout the day in what we did offensively, defensively and on special teams. We wanted to stay that way throughout the end of the ballgame.
ON THE PENALTIES: It was very disturbing in terms of the personal foul penalties. I believe that there were five in the first half. You can't have that. Some of them, we were able to overcome. But when you play a good football team like the New Orleans Saints, you can't have those types of penalties.
ON THE ONSIDES KICK: It worked out. It was basically based on the same thing. There were four minutes and basically the conversation that we had as a coaching staff in the staff meetings during the week. We have not had success giving them the ball in the last three or four minutes. . . That was part of the decision making. I know that it will be scrutinized all week long and again I want everybody to understand, I take full responsibility for that.
ON NOT HAVING FAITH IN THE DEFENSE: It wasn't that we didn't have faith in the defense. That's a very good quarterback. By no means is there a lack of faith in the defense. It's a matter of what has happened when we have played them in the past. It's always part of the decision making process.
ON NOT GETTING PRESSURE ON BRESS: We did not get pressure. They blocked up some of our blitzes with some of their formations that they had, we weren't able to get pressure. They had a very good game plan in terms of trying to neutralize the pressure that we would put on them.
ON HARRY DOUGLAS: Harry made some great catches on that last drive, that 94 yards where we kicked the field goal to tie the game, he made some big plays in that drive.
ON BEING SO AGGRESSIVE: That's was the message all week, that we're going to be an aggressive football team. That we are going to be aggressive in everything that we did. Unfortunately, it did not pan out the way that we would have liked it to.
V-Roll Roll Call
Video: Saints Postgame Press Conference | neworleanssaints.com
Payton, Graham and Brees talk about the Saints 26-23 win over the Falcons.