There are those that will be upset that the Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 to close out their 2015 season, but it's nice to see the Falcons brought down a peg after ending the Panthers' undefeated season just a week ago. This was a pride matchup, and Sean Payton and the Saints went out with pride to end their season 7-9.
The game started as a shootout, with only one punt in the first half and both teams trading punches. Devonta Freeman ran all over the Saints' defense early on and the Saints struggled to stop him, while Brees started out incredible strong, completing 19 of his first 23 passes. Julio Jones also had an incredible game for Atlanta, fighting through a clear foot injury throughout the game that hampered his route running.
In the second half, both teams had drives of greater than 80 yards before their running backs fumbled in the opposing red zone. Travaris Cadet, who had an otherwise solid game for the Saints, made the fumble that the Falcons recovered on the one.
The Saints' defense played notably well in the second half, not allowing any points despite giving up serious yardage. The run defense also held their own against the impressive Devonta Freeman, allowing about 3 yards per carry to the 1,000 yard rusher. Freeman had a few moments where he would impress, but he was met frequently in the backfield and had to dance just for yardage. The game would ultimately end after the Saints were forced to punt and Matt Ryan threw the interception that would lead to the game winning field goal to Jamarca Sanford, the former Viking. Kai Forbath would kick a game winning field goal as time expired to give the Saints the win. Tim Hightower also had another good grinding game, picking up 66 yards on 16 carries.
On thing is certain, the Saints have a great deal of questions to answer going into the offseason. The first one that will need be addressed is what to do with the backfield. Is there room for Tim Hightower? Is CJ Spiller expendable for Travaris Cadet? It's impossible to say right now, but the Saints will need to address their crowded situation soon.
Drew Brees (NO): 32/42, 323 yards (4,870 on the season), 1 TD (32 on the season)
Matt Ryan (ATL): 24/36, 334 yards (4,591 on the season), 2 TD (21 on the season), 1 INT (16 on the season)
Tim Hightower (NO): 16 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD
Devonta Freeman (ATL): 25 carries, 76 yards (1,056 on the season)
Julio Jones (ATL): 9 receptions, 149 yards
Brandon Coleman (NO): 5 receptions, 81 yards
Travaris Cadet (NO): 6 receptions, 77 yards
Benjamin Watson (NO): 6 receptions, 59 yards, 1 TD
Tony Moeaki (ATL): 2 receptions, 47 yards, 1 TD