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Saints pull off close 21-18 win against Atlanta Falcons and stay alive in the NFC South

The New Orleans Saints are clinging to life now, winning against division rival Atlanta and putting themselves at 5-9, tied for 2nd in the NFC South.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints entered this week at 4-9, going up against their division rival Atlanta Falcons who sat a 5-8. If the Saints lost and either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Carolina Panthers won, the Saints were out of the playoffs, and on the other side, the Falcons were looking to push further toward the top of the division.

At the end of the day, it came out to be a close game, but the Saints pulled it off by the finest of margins in a 21-18 win that came all the way down to the last play. This leaves the Saints at 5-9, tied with Atlanta and Carolina for 2nd, and somewhat in control of their own destiny now. If the Buccaneers lose this evening, the Saints will be within a game and a half of first place (Tampa holds the tiebreaker due to winning the season series). They will meet with the Cincinnati Bengals who sit at 9-4.

In the First Half, the Saints got off to a hot start, with a 19-yard touchdown to Juwan Johnson and a 68-yard touchdown to Rashid Shaheed on the opening drives, going up 14-0. They then held Atlanta to a field goal throughout the remaining half, holding a 14-3 lead until the 3rd quarter. The defense held exceptionally well through the first 30 minutes and kept Ridder guessing and on the move with pressure by the defensive line early and often.

In the Second Half, the Saints started to allow Atlanta back into it, with a giant drive for Tyler Allgeier including a 43-yard rush, and then he got into the endzone with a 5-yard rush and brought things back. The Saints would respond on a drive with 11 plays, 75 yards, and a touchdown taking 7 minutes and 12 seconds off the clock. Juwan Johnson caught his 2nd of the day with a 22-yard touchdown, putting the Saints up 21-10.

Atlanta did not go down without a fight, however, scoring another touchdown with exceptional field position, starting on the NO 32-yard line, by running and running some more. Patterson got the touchdown on a 3-yard run, and then Tyler Allgeier got the 2-point conversion to make it 21-18. New Orleans got it all the way into Atlanta territory on the ATL 27, then turned it over on 4th and 1 on downs. Atlanta had two final plays, a 6-yard reception by Drake London who went out of bounds quickly, and then a... 19-yard scramble by Desmond Ridder? Weird ending to the game, and a rookie mistake, but the Saints took home the win, and now sit tied for 2nd in the division, and look to this evening to see how Tampa Bay does against Cincinnati.

Big Plays & Scoring Plays Recap

Quarter 1:

  • Andy Dalton finds Juwan Johnson on 3rd and 9 for a 14-yard gain
  • Two plays later, Andy Dalton throws again, this time to Chris Olave for a 16-yard gain and first down
  • Rashid Shaheed gets the better of Jaylinn Hawkins, catching the ball for 16 yards and picking up another 2 after the catch.
  • Dalton catches Juwan Johnson on a 15-yard route across the middle of the field, Johnson takes it the extra 4 yards and reaches the ball just over the plane for the touchdown after review!
  • NO 7 - ATL 0
  • Atlanta goes 3 and out after a 2-yard rush and 2 incompletions thrown by Desmond Ridder while under pressure.
  • Saints get the ball at their own 27 after the punt and a fair catch by Rashid Shaheed
  • Taysom Hill comes on at QB and throws a 68-yard touchdown to Rashid Shaheed in stride! 33-yard pass and 35 yards after the catch on a vertical route!
  • NO 14 - ATL 0
  • Tyrann Mathieu called for defensive pass interference on a seemingly clean coverage on his part, 19 yards gained for the Falcons and a new set of downs.
  • Falcons go 3 and out after the defensive pass interference, with a -1 yard rush to Cordarrelle Patterson then 2 straight incompletions by Desmond Ridder.
  • Rashid Shaheed fair catches the punt at the NO 9-yard line, a 40-yard punt by Pinion.
  • Short drive next for the Saints, a 2-yard run by David Johnson, then a 6-yard run by Taysom Hill, and a 3-yard reception by Adam Prentice. The saints then get 9 yards on the ground from Alvin Kamara before he loses 3 the next play, Dalton loses 5 on a false start, and then he is sacked for a loss of 8 leading to a 49-yard punt by Blake Gillikin to the Falcons 38.

Quarter 2:

  • 2 completions from Desmond Ridder to Drake London for 12 and 9 yards respectively open the next drive and 2 rushes by Cordarrelle for 4 and 7 yards respectively.
  • Ridder then throws an incomplete pass and is sacked, leading to a 28-yard field goal for Younghoe Koo, which is good.
  • NO 14 - ATL 3
  • The Saints lead a long drive next up, with a 21-yard reception by Chris Olave and a 13-yard run by Alvin Kamara, going 7 plays for 60 yards with short runs by Kamara/Johnson and a 12-yard pass from Taysom to Juwan.
  • David Johnson Fumbles on the Atlanta 14-yard line, which is recovered by Lorenzo Carter and brought back for a yard to the Atlanta 15-yard line.
  • Atlanta does not make the most of this fumble recovery, going 3 plays for 3 yards then punting after 2 short runs and an incompletion.
  • The Saints also return the favor, going 5 plays then having to punt, with a Taysom Hill run for 13 yards in the middle, then short runs and an incompletion to end the drive and force the punt.
  • Falcons go 13 plays for 51 yards in return, except are forced to punt after being held to incompletions late in the 2nd quarter at midfield. Tyler Allgeier has a few good runs for 7, 7, and 15 yards each to sustain this drive before the punt.
  • Saints take a knee with 8 seconds left in the half to get to halftime. Overall the offense looked good to start, with back-to-back touchdowns to open the game, but has faltered since. The defense has done its job, however, holding Atlanta to 3 in the half and forcing Ridder to run out of the pocket early and often.

Quarter 3:

  • Atlanta Falcons lead a long drive, 8 plays for 75 yards, and get their first touchdown of the game on the back of Tyler Allgeier rushing all over the Saints’ defense. Patterson starts the drive with 3 rushes for 15 yards, then Allgeier rips off a giant 43-yard run, another 6 after that, and then gets the touchdown 2 plays later on a 5-yard run.
  • NO 14 - ATL 10
  • Saints respond with a long, strong-handed, clock-burning drive, 11 plays for 75 yards and a touchdown, taking up 7 minutes and 12 seconds, pushing the game long into the 3rd quarter. Highlights of the drive include a few good rushes by Alvin Kamara, a 16-yard completion from Dalton to Olave, and the closing play, a 22-yard pass from Andy Dalton to Juwan Johnson for his 2nd touchdown of the day, taking it 10 yards after the catch to the endzone.
  • NO 21 - ATL 10
  • Saints do a line drive kick on the next kickoff, holding Atlanta to a 3-yard return to the ATL 14-yard line and holding them on their own side of the field.
  • Alontae Taylor gets a DPI call against Drake London for 11 yards, and the first down.
  • Small short runs follow, with a Patterson 5-yard run, a Ridder scramble for 5, the first down, and then back to Patterson for 3 yards.
  • Ridder completes a solid pass to Drake London for 11 yards and a fresh set of downs, now at the New Orleans 48-yard line.

Quarter 4:

  • Wonky trick play by Atlanta to open the quarter, handoff to Felipe Franks, who laterals back to Ridder, who is then sacked for 5 yards trying to throw the ball downfield.
  • Patterson is then given a reception behind the line of scrimmage, getting back to the line for 0 yards, and then Ridder throws incomplete to Anthony Firkser, forcing a punt to the New Orleans 11-yard line.
  • Saints go nowhere after the punt, with Kamara rushing twice for 2 yards total and then Andy Dalton being sacked for a loss of 9. The punt is short as well, to the New Orleans 42, and a 10-yard return by Avery Williams to the NO 32.
  • 3 rushes to open the drive for Atlanta, 8 yards for Allgeier on 2 rushes, and then a designed scramble by Ridder to just barely get the first down. Patterson then rushes for 4, Ridder on the ground for 2, and Allgeier gets the first on the ground with a 5-yard run into the red zone at the NO 16.
  • Atlanta keeps it on the ground with Patterson for 8 yards, and then he runs again for 3 yards into the endzone, bringing Atlanta within 1 score.
  • Atlanta goes for the 2-point conversion, and is stopped on a Cam Jordan sack, but Jordan gets a piece of the facemask. Allgeier gets the second opportunity on the ground and converts the conversion.
  • NO 21 - ATL 18
  • Saints do themselves no favors, going 3 and out after an ill-advised throw by Andy Dalton into double coverage, a 5-yard run by Kamara, and then an incompletion from Dalton to Juwan. The punt goes 53 yards to the ATL 17, with Avery Williams returning the ball 20 yards. Offensive holding is enforced, however, so Atlanta will start at their own 10-yard line.
  • Falcons start the drive with a short rush to Allgeier for 4, a pass to Avery Williams for 5, and then 3 straight first downs on a 1-yard run by Allgeier, a 14-yard pass to Pruitt, and then an 11-yard run by Allgeier.
  • Falcons then rush for 5 with Patterson after an incompletion by Ridder, and then Ridder throws an incomplete pass to Firkser as well, 4th and 5, PBU by Marcus Maye. The falcons elect to go for it on 4th. Drake London catches the ball for 16 yards, IT’S PUNCHED OUT BY JUSTIN EVANS AND RECOVERED BY BRADLEY ROBY! FIRST DOWN SAINTS ON THEIR OWN 39!
  • Alvin Kamara rushes for 5 yards, taking the game down to the 2-minute warning.
  • Taysom Hill rushes for 7 yards and gets the first down, Atlanta takes the first of their timeouts.
  • Kamara gets the ball again, rushing for 13 yards, another first down, and forcing Atlanta to take their 2nd timeout.
  • Kamara part 3, taking the ball for another 5 yards, and Atlanta takes their final timeout with 1:48 left in the 4th.
  • Kamara part 4, rushing for 4 yards to the ATL 37, tackled in bounds so the clock is running, 3rd and 1.
  • New Orleans calls their first timeout with 0:59 left in the 4th on 3rd and 1
  • Taysom Hill comes in for QB power but is stopped right at the line, with no first down, 4th and inches. New Orleans calls their 2nd timeout with 0:12 left.
  • Saints go for it on 4th, do not convert on a bad snap by Erik McCoy to Taysom. Atlanta gets the ball with 0:09, no timeouts, on their own 27.
  • Desmond Ridder throws for 6 yards to drake London, 5 seconds left now with London out of bounds.
  • Ridder...scrambles? Desmond takes the ball 19 yards but the clock runs out. Anyways, THE SAINTS WIN! The season, in technical terms, is not over yet. Carolina also just lost 24-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, so that helps.