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Saints Outclassed by Falcons in Humbling 26-9 Loss

The Saints were served a large slice of humble pie by a Falcons team that was hungrier than they were

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Coming off their bye week, the winners of six straight games New Orleans Saints (7-2) were looking to keep their mojo going against their bitter and embattled division rivals Atlanta Falcons (2-7) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Atlanta on the other hand, with nothing to lose, was expected to play loose and let it all hang out to upset the Saints and hamper their postseason goals of gaining a high seed in the NFC.


IN THE FIRST HALF, the Falcons won the toss and elected to take the ball. Atlanta would pull a lot of tricks on the first drive, using multiple run formations to get into the Saints’ red zone. A couple of penalties would set the Falcons back, leading them to settle for a field goal and take a 3-0 lead.

On their first possession, the Saints would drive all the way down to the Falcons’ 2-yard line, but stall on third down and settle for a short field goal, tying the game at 3.

On Atlanta’s ensuing possession, the Falcons would be faced with a 4th-and-4 from the Saints’ 44-yard line, which they converted with Matt Ryan running to the marker as the first quarter ended. The Falcons would go on a time-consuming drive all the way to a touchdown, aided by multiple penalties on a sloppy Saints’ defense, playing hard but making uncharacteristic mistakes. Ryan would find Austin Hooper to give the Falcons a 10-3 lead.

On their next offensive drive, the Saints would go three-and-out, incurring yet another penalty, this time a false start on offense. The Falcons returned the Thomas Morstead punt to midfield, as Atlanta simply looked the better team to this point of the game. The Saints’ defense however would bow its neck and stop the Falcons.

On their third possession of the game, the Saints would move the ball just pass their own 40-yard line, but another sack of Drew Brees, the second of the day would thwart their effort and force Thomas Morstead’s second punt of the game.

The Falcons taking over at their own 17-yard line, would get a monster big play of 54 yards to Julio Jones, with Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore out of the game with an injury. On third down from the Saints’ 12-yard line, Demario Davis sacks Matt ryan, forcing Atlanta to settle for a field goal.

With 1:31 left on the clock, the Saints would then take the ball and drive 46 yards and Wil Lutz would convert a 47-yard field goal to narrow Atlanta’s lead to 13-7 at halftime.

IN THE SECOND HALF, the Saints would receive the kickoff and move the ball to their 47-yard line, but characteristic of their inefficiency of the day, stall and punt. On the Falcon’s first drive of the second half, the Saints’ defense would look more like itself, forcing the Falcons to punt.

New Orleans would start its second possession of the third quarter at the Falcons’ 38-yard line after a 20-yard punt return by Deonte Harris. The Saints however would stall in the red zone, emblematic of their afternoon. Wil Lutz would convert a 28-yard field goal to make the score 13-9 in favor of the Falcons.

On their ensuing drive, the Falcons would on another long possession deep into the Saints’ red zone, where Matt Ryan would improvise and find his running back Brian Hill for the second touchdown of the day, giving Atlanta a 20-9 lead.

The Saints’ offense would continue its ineptitude, going three-and-out with yet another penalty, this time on Terron Armstead, and Brees’ fourth sack of the day.

The Falcons would take over near their 30-yard line and stall at midfield, yet another penalty by the Saints (a roughing of the punter) would give the Falcons the ball in Saints’ territory. Atlanta would eventually be stopped and settle for a field goal, but the Falcons would increase their lead to 14, with a 23-9 lead.

The Saints’ next drive would end in another Drew Brees sack, this one on fourth down and the sixth of the game for the Falcons. On their ensuing possession, the Falcons would get greedy, and Marcus Williams would intercept a deep pass from Ryan to Ridley at the Saints’ 10-yard line.

Saints would take the ball at their 10-yard line, and true to form, be unable to convert on 4th down from their own 18-yard line, giving the ball back to Atlanta. The Falcons would run the ball and settle for a 30-yard field goal, putting the game out of reach at 26-9 with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

New Orleans would take the ball again, with some garbage time stats and maybe some snaps to regain a bit of rhythm ahead of next week’s game. Saints get into the red zone and fail to score a touchdown, as Michael Thomas falls just short of the goal line, a perfect picture of the afternoon for the Saints.

New Orleans falls to 7-2 on the season with a head-scratching loss, but one that may actually serve the team moving forward. The Saints might have started believing in their own hype.


Here is how the game unfolded drive-by-drive


First Quarter

  • Falcons win the toss and elect to receive, they start at their 25-yard line. Calvin Ridley picks up 19-yard on an end-around on the first play of the game. Falcons get into Saints territory on a good run by Devonta Freeman. Falcons use the running game primarily to get deep into Saints territory and in the red zone. Two false start penalties set Atlanta back. On 3rd-and-16 from the Saints 19-yard line, Falcons stall and Youngboe Koo kicks a 37-yard field goal.
  • NO: 0 - ATL: 3
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line after the touchback. Saints starting the game with three consecutive runs to pick up their first “first down” of the game. Brees finds Michael Thomas and Jared Cook to get into the Saints’ red zone. Taysom Hill finds Michael Thomas into the Falcons’ red zone. Brees is sacked on third down from the Falcons’ 2-yard line, Wil Lutz converts a 28-yard field goal.
  • NO: 3 - ATL: 3
  • Falcons take over at their 25-yard line. Falcons convert their first “third down” of the game to keep their drive alive. On 4th-and-4 from the Saints’ 44-yard line, the Falcons go for it, Matt Ryan runs for it and gets the first down as the quarter ends.

Second Quarter

  • Falcons get near the red zone on a penalty on defensive end Marcus Davenport. Falcons keep running the ball, allowing them to hold possession. Another “illegal use of the hands” penalty on the Saints keeps the Falcons in possession. A holding penalty on Marshon Lattimore once again keeps the Falcons’ drive alive. Matt Ryan finds Austin Hooper for a touchdown, in a drive that took 17 plays and 8 minutes.
  • NO: 3 - ATL: 10
  • Deonte Harris returns the kickoff to the Saints’ 20-yard line. On the second play of the drive Trequan Smith drops a pass from Drew Brees. Not an auspicious sign for Smith, returning from injury. Saints have a false start penalty, stall and have to punt.
  • Kenjon Barner returns the punt to midfield, where the Falcons take over. Falcons are penalized and setback and go three-and-out. Ryan Allen punts and Harris recovers at the 10-yard line.
  • Saints start with a 9-yard pass to Michael Thomas and quickly get a first down with Latavius Murray. Saints get all the way to their 42-yard line and on third down and Brees is sacked by Adrian Clayborn, forcing the Saints to punt again.
  • Falcons take over at their 17-yard line and convert on a third-and-10 to the two-minute warning. Ryan finds Julio Jones on a crossing route for 54 yards to the Saints’ 18-yard line. The Falcons eventually stall as Demario Davis makes a big play, sacking Matt Ryan on 3rd-and-2 from New Orleans’ 10-yard line. Younghoe Koo converts a 36-yard field goal
  • NO: 3 - ATL: 13
  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line, Brees finds tight end Jared Cook to midfield. Jared Cook gets another catch into Atlanta’s territory. So far, Cook is looking like a rejuvenated player. Brees finds Michael Thomas for a first down, but a penalty sets the Saints back. With five seconds left, Wil Lutz makes a 47-yard field goal, as the Saints narrow Atlanta’s lead at halftime.
  • NO: 6 - ATL: 13


Third Quarter

  • Saints take over at their 25-yard line after the kickoff’s touchback. Saints get the ball moving but stall near midfield. At their own 47-yard line on 4th-and-3, the Saints get the Falcons to jump but the call is overturned and Saints have to punt.
  • Falcons start at their 10-yard line and Matt Ryan finds Julio Jones for a first down as the Saints’ defense still can’t get off the field. After one first down, Falcons eventually stall and have to punt.
  • Deonte Harris returns the punt 20 yards to the Falcons’ 38-yard line. On 3rd-and-8, Trequan Smith makes his first catch of the day, while getting leveled by a defender. Saints get into the red zone on a quick pass to Michael Thomas. Brees gets sacked on second down, and on third down the Saints run Latavius Murray but stall. Wil Lutz makes a 28-yard field goal.
  • NO: 9 - ATL: 13
  • Falcons take the ball at their 25-yard line and use the run to get close to midfield. Another penalty on the Saints gifts Atlanta a first down as the Saints keep beating themselves. Falcons get into the red zone on catches by Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones. The Falcons face a 3rd-and-8 from the Saints’ 10-yard line as the quarter ends.

Fourth Quarter

  • On the first play of the quarter, Matt Ryan finds Brian Hill for a touchdown.
  • NO: 9 - ATL: 20
  • Saints take over near their 40-yard line after a great return by Deonte Harris. After a holding penalty on Terron Armstead, the Saints stall again and have to punt after Brees is sacked for the fourth time of the day.
  • Falcons return the punt to their 30-yard line. On 3rd-and-7 from beyond their 40-yard line, the Falcons get into Saints territory as the Falcons are playing the game of their season. Falcons eventually stall at midfield and punt, but Saints rough the kicker and gift yet another first down to the Falcons. Just that kind of day for New Orleans. Saints eventually hold the Falcons and Younghoe Koo makes a 48-yard field goal.
  • NO: 9 - ATL: 23
  • Deonte Harris returns the kickoff to the 20-yard line. After a first down pass to Michael Thomas, Brees gets sacked for the fifth time of the game. On 4th-and-5 from their own 41-yard line, Brees gets sacked for the 6th time of the game and Atlanta takes over.
  • Atlanta gets greedy, and Matt Ryan throws a deep pass towards Calvin Ridley that is intercepted by Marcus Williams.
  • Saints take over at their 10-yard line and fail to move the ball, failing on 4th-and-3 at their own 18-yard line.
  • Falcons take over and run the ball three times to bleed the clock and attempt a short field goal. Younghoe Koo makes a 30-yard field goal
  • NO: 9 - ATL: 26
  • Deonte Harris returns the ball to the Saints’ 20-yard line. New Orleans moves into Falcons’ territory on passes to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. Saints get into the red zone, with some excellent garbage time work. New Orleans falls just short of the end zone, as time expires.
  • Saints lose by a final score of 26-9.


What went wrong for the Saints against the Falcons today?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Defense couldn’t get off the field
    (63 votes)
  • 43%
    Brees and the offense looked sloppy and unprepared
    (207 votes)
  • 5%
    Sean Payton didn’t call a physical enough game early
    (25 votes)
  • 18%
    They all partied with LSU players last night
    (87 votes)
  • 20%
    Just pass me another burger, this was sad
    (99 votes)
481 votes total Vote Now