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Saints suffer bitter loss to Falcons, and it’s one they’ll not forget

Thursday Night Football was certainly a clunker once against for the Saints.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA — The New Orleans Saints fell to 9-4 after losing to the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. It was a close game, as the black and gold fell 20-17.

The first half was just plain hard to watch. Several players were lost to injury, with the main one being Alvin Kamara (concussion). Other players were injured, six to be exact. A.J. Klein (groin), Trey Hendrickson (knee), Josh Hill, Senio Kelemete, and Kenny Vaccaro all got banged up in the first half. Not to mention, there were a ton of penalties.

Somehow, the half ended up deadlocked at 10-10 thanks to the Saints offense being able to answer after being down 10-3 thanks to a Drew Brees to Tommylee Lewis 26-yard connection. The Saints would have had an extra field goal going into halftime after Marshon Lattimore picked off Matt Ryan, however the 47-yard Wil Lutz field goal was nullified by an illegal formation on Josh LeRibeus which ended the half.

“They felt like the player (LeRibeus) wasn’t far enough up on the line. Usually get a warning with that, especially with a backup in,” Sean Payton said during his post game press conference.

Payton said he thought his team was outstanding on defense and fought hard, and they got a lot of good out of them against the Falcons.

“We struggled offensively to find a rhythm,” Payton added.

Chris Banjo picked off Matt Ryan once again to open the second half, which put the Saints in business. A few plays after the interception, Brees found a wide open Michael Thomas (thanks to a Brandon Coleman pick play) to put them up 17-10.

The Falcons would march down the field on their ensuing drive, but it would end in Matt Ryan’s third interception of the day after he underthrew a ball that was picked off by Marcus Williams. However, the offense couldn’t do much with it and had to punt.

Fast forward to the 4th Quarter, and the Falcons went on an 11-play, 69-yard drive that took 7:06 off the clock to lead to a Ryan to Mohamed Sanu touchdown that tied the game 17-17. The Falcons would add a 52-yard field goal, and then the Saints were in a position to tie and potentially take the lead. Payton took a huge gamble on a 4th and 1 call, but Brees picked up the first down.

Just three plays later, Brees was picked off in the end zone by Deion Jones. The Falcons ran a couple of plays, and then Payton was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Payton said, “I called a timeout, and then they asked me again and I said I already called the timeout. Probably said it with a little more oomph or bigger than I was supposed to, but I gotta be smarter than that.”

The Saints will have 10 days to rest and prepare for their back-to-back home games, and they’ll need every one of them to get rested up. The mood in the locker room from the players was obviously disappointing, but they’re absolutely chomping at the bit for the rematch.

Post Game Quotes

Cam Jordan: “At the end of the day, we didn’t do enough to get a win. Great teams are able to win those battles no matter what the refs call.”

Manti Te’o: “We want all our guys out there. We battled. For the guys we did have out there and for us to play like that, I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played. Now it’s time to heal up.”

Kenny Vaccaro: “I’ll be alright. Anytime you have to play three or four days later like this, I had a lot of scar tissue get broke up this last game, which is a good thing, but it also causes inflammation and also causes my adductor to really hurt. It got to the point in the game where it was too sore. I didn’t have a setback or anything, I should be good to go.”

Larry Warford: “There’s no depression. People aren’t down on themselves, it’s always ‘Hey, we always have a chance to win this.’ Everybody’s always trying to amp each other up, encouraging each other. There’s no quit. That’s the main thing I love about this team.”

Ken Crawley: “I’m anxious (on rematch). I can’t wait. Be back in the Dome. Can’t wait.”

Marshon Lattimore: “Feel good to get back out there with my team.” Lattimore (on getting oxygen on the sideline) said he was good.