I wish that Saints team that showed up in the second half could have been there for the first. In what was another roller-coaster of a game with plenty of ups and downs along the way, here are a couple that stood out.
Up: Michael Thomas
Saints rookie WR Michael Thomas had himself a big game and a nice exclamation point to a fantastic rookie season, finishing the day with 156 yards in the air and a touchdown. After being selected behind five other wideouts in this past year’s draft, Thomas finished the season as the NFL’s leading rookie receiver. He also set a Saints franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie with 1,079, breaking the record of Marques Colston from 2006.
The two other big names in the Saints receiving corps did not have quite as good of a day as Thomas. Both WRs Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead were knocked out of the game late with concussion-like symptoms. Neither injury looks to be serious, and if a player is going to be injured like this you’re thankful for it to be in the team’s last game of the year, but you never want to see players get hurt.
Up: Mark Ingram
Michael Thomas wasn’t the only Saint to pass the 1,000-yard mark for the Saints this game. Mark Ingram was able to be the first Saint to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Deuce McAllister, breaking the longest 1,000-rusher drought in the NFL. Ingram was able to rumble for 103 yards on the ground and a TD (adding another 29 yards in the air). Good for Ingram.
Down: The Falcons Won
Obviously a loss for the Saints is a “down” in any week, but it’s especially more so considering the Saints were unable to keep the Falcons out of a first round Bye and have the final regular season game in the Georgia Dome in the books as a Falcons win over the Saints. At least the Saints have a higher draft pick with the loss. So there’s that.