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Saints Sweep Falcons with 21-16 Win, Earn Playoff Berth

New Orleans has won nine straight games

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints (10-2) were looking for their ninth straight win as they played the Atlanta Falcons (4-8) on Sunday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Coming off a somewhat lackluster yet dominant win against the Broncos last week, the Saints were facing their divisional foes for the second time in three weeks. The game marked the third start for former backup quarterback Taysom Hill, and the third game missed by starting quarterback Drew Brees.

Here is how the game unfolded

FIRST HALF

The Saints won the toss and deferred to the second half. New Orleans then held Atlanta to a three-and-out to start the game. The Saints would return the favor by going three-and-out as well. The Saints’ defense would force a second consecutive three-and-out, and that’s when Taysom Hill would get his first big play of the game, a run for 43 yards into Falcons territory.

On the very next play, Hill would throw the first passing touchdown of his NFL career to Tre’Quan Smith.

NO: 7 - ATL: 0

The Falcons would drive the ball into Saints’ territory but stall at the 36-yard line, where Younghoe Koo would make a 53-yard field goal. For the anecdote, Koo has never missed a field goal beyond 50 yards in his NFL career.

NO: 7 - ATL: 3

On the Saints’ ensuing possession, New Orleans would get into Falcons’ territory again by passing the ball with Hill. Facing a third-and-17, Hill would find Michael Thomas for a beautiful 18-yard gain to keep the drive alive. The Saints would eventually stall at the Falcons’ 23-yard line. Wil Lutz would then miss a 40-yard attempt, his third miss of the season as Lutz has suddenly become a bit shaky of late. Lutz appeared to get hurt on the play.

The Falcons would take over and be forced into yet another three-and-out, their third out of four possessions. The Saints would quickly drive back into Falcons’ territory. Facing a 4th-and-7 at the Falcons’ 36-yard line, the Saints would go for it, with Jared Cook dropping a first down pass protecting himself from a potential hit. Cook continues his mostly underwhelming Saints’ career.

On the very next play, Matt Ryan would find Julio Jones for a big gain to the Saints’ 29-yard line. The Falcons would get into the Saints’ red zone on a run by Ito Smith. The Saints’ defense would bow its neck again and hold Atlanta to a field goal attempt, Koo would hit from 30 yards out.

NO: 7 - ATL: 6

On the ensuing Saints’ drive, Alvin Kamara would run 37 yards to the Falcons’ 40-yard line. New Orleans would get into the red zone on a beautiful throw to Emmanuel Sanders at the two-minute warning. On third-and-3 from the Falcons’ 11-yard line, Hill would find Jared Cook who this time would hold the ball while getting hit, for a touchdown.

NO: 14 - ATL: 6

The Falcons would take the ball with 1:45 on the clock, the Falcons would get the ball deep into Saints’ territory on a deep throw from Ryan to Calvin Ridley. A big sack by David Onyemata on Matt Ryan wuld set Atlanta back, the first sack for New Orleans on the day and the 18th sack of Ryan by the Saints in the last three meetings between the two teams. Several pass interference penalties on the Saints’ defense would keep the Falcons’ drive alive. The Saints’ defense would once again hold the Falcons to a field goal, with Younghoe Koo making a 28-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter

NO: 14 - ATL: 9

*

SECOND HALF

Having deferred their coin toss win to the second half, the Saints started with the ball. Hill would quickly find Michael Thomas for two passes into Falcons territory. The Saints would face a 4th-and-1 at the Falcons’ 30-yard line and convert on a sneak by Taysom Hill. The Saints would eventually get into the red zone and Alvin Kamara would run into the end zone to score his 13th touchdown of the season. The Saints’ drive took nearly six minutes.

NO: 21 - ATL: 9

The Falcons would take over at their 25-yard line and get into Saints’ territory in three plays. The Falcons would eventually stall at the Saints’ 45-yard line and punt. The Saints would take over at their own 10-yard line. New Orleans would get into Falcons’ territory but stall just past midfield, forcing the Saints’ second punt of the game with only 59 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Falcons would take the ball at their 13-yard line, and go three-and-out yet again, giving New Orleans great field position at their own 45-yard line. The Saints would hold the ball into the fourth quarter, but go three-and-out on two incompletions by Taysom Hill. Taking over at their 15-yard line, and on second down Carl Granderson would force a fumble by Matt Ryan, recovered by P.J. Williams at the Falcons’ 20-yard line.

The Saints would get to the Falcons’ 8-yard line, go for it and convert on 4th-and-inches to keep the ball. On second and goal, Taysom Hill would get sacked, fumble and turn the ball over to the Falcons.

Atlanta would get into Saints’ territory on two passes from Matt Ryan to Russell Gage. The Falcons would get into the Saints’ red zone on a slew of penalties on the Saints’ defense, an ugly issue that resurfaced today. Matt Ryan would eventually find Russell Gage for a touchdown, the first for the Falcons in 2020 against the Saints.

NO: 21 - ATL: 16

The Saints would take over at their 25-yard line, gain a first down, but stall eventually and be forced to punt, giving Atlanta the ball at their 15-yard line. On third-and-3, Matt Ryan would find Calvin Ridley for 36-yard to midfield. The Falcons would get into Saints’ territory on a run by Todd Gurley. The Falcons would get to the Saints 13-yard line. The Falcons would eventually face a 4th-and-9 from the Saints’ 20-yard line and New Orleans would get the ball back with 1:36.

The Saints would take over the ball and avert disaster when Taysom Hill fumbled the ball yet again while running on the outside, luckily for the Saints the ball went out of bounds. The Saints would eventually go three-and-out, but force the Falcons to spend all their timeouts, giving the ball back to the Falcons at their own 40-yard line with 27 seconds left.

Atlanta would get to the Saints’ 40-yard line. Ryan would launch a Hail Mary into the end zone, and the ball would fall incomplete, giving the Saints the win and a playoff berth.

Poll

Do you feel more confident in Taysom Hill after today’s 21-16 win in Atlanta?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Yes, he is improving and throwing the ball better
    (173 votes)
  • 17%
    Yes, but Sean Payton has to help him with better play calling
    (70 votes)
  • 17%
    Meh, he is playing well overall but still is a spotty passer
    (68 votes)
  • 18%
    Nope, I want Drew Breeeeees back as soon as possible.
    (71 votes)
  • 3%
    I am always confident that a juicy Big Mac will satisfy me
    (12 votes)
394 votes total Vote Now