It is the return of the NFL, Who Dats, and today the New Orleans Saints were opening their 2022-23 season with a rivalry game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes Benz Stadium on the road. The game marked the beginning of the Dennis Allen era in New Orleans, while for the Falcons, it marked the beginning of the post Matt Ryan era.
The first half of the game saw New Orleans’ offensive line play perhaps its worst game in a few years, with the Falcons defensive line sacking Jameis Winston four times in the first half alone. The Falcons led 16-7 at halftime, with Saints’ quarterback Jameis Winston having thrown for a meager 24 yards on 5-for-10 passing. The Saints lone touchdown came on an 11-yard run by Taysom Hill, which was preceded by a 57-yard run by Hill from the wildcat position.
New Orleans defense, while holding Atlanta to only 16 points in the first half, seemed unable to tackle running back/wide receiver Cordarelle Patterson, who consistently found big gashes in the defense.
The second half would see the Saints’ offense continue its futility, settling for a field goal on its first drive, and being unable to get anything going. The Falcons on the other hand would add another touchdown, leading 23-10 through three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, after the Falcons had added another field goal to take a 26-10 lead, Jameis Winston would engineer a 1:29 drive that included four successive passes to Juwan Johnson, Alvin Kamara, Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas for a touchdown. A good two-point conversion brought New Orleans within eight, trailing 18-26.
The Saints would keep coming, with a defensive stop, and then with Michael Thomas and Jameis Winston finally finding a rhythm and scoring another touchdown, making the score 24-26 after a failed two-point conversion try.
After stopping the Falcons again on defense, the Saints would manage one more field goal, a 51-yard conversion by Wil Lutz with 19 seconds left on the clock, and a 27-26 lead.
New Orleans would make it interesting, after a Marshon Lattimore personal foul gave Atlanta the opportunity to attempt a 63-yard field goal that was blocked.
New Orleans wins Dennis Allen’s debut as head coach and beat the Falcons for the fifth consecutive time in Atlanta.
Below is a quarter-by-quarter description of the action:
- The Saints win the toss and defer to the second half, as Marcus Mariota takes the opening snap for a run for a first down. Mariota leads Atlanta passed midfield on a pass to Kyle Pitts. The Falcons eventually face a fourth down at the Saints’ 35-yard line and Younghoe Koo connects on a 54-yard field goal.
- NO: 0 - ATL: 3
- Saints begin at their 25-yard line, but go three-and-out and are forced to punt.
- Falcons take over at their 20-yard line and go three-and-out as well.
- Saints take over at their 23-yard line and on 3rd-and-1, Taysom Hill runs for 57 yards to the Falcons’ 12-yard line.
- On second down, Taysom Hill runs inside the end zone for the Saints’ first touchdown of the season. Wil Lutz makes the extra point.
- NO: 7 - ATL: 3
- On the first play of their subsequent drive, Pete Werner forces a fumble that is recovered by the Saints at the Falcons’ 43-yard line. Saints take over and gain a first down. Saints eventually stall and Wil Lutz misses a 44-yard field goal off the left upright.
- Falcons take over at their 34-yard line and gain 12 yards on a run by Cordarelle Patterson. Atlanta gets into Saints’ territory using the running game as the quarter ends.
- Falcons eventually score with a run by Cordarelle Patterson into the end zone.
- NO: 7 - ATL: 10
- Saints go three-and-out and have to punt once again. Falcons take over at their 21-yard line. Falcons eventually stall and punt. Deonte Harty returns the ball to New Orleans’ 22-yard line.
- On the Saints’ third play of the drive, Grady Jarrett sacks Winston, forcing the Saints into a long third down. Winston is sacked again on third down, and the Saints have to punt again.
- Falcons take over at their 18-yard line. Atlanta runs the ball into Saints’ territory as Cordarelle Patterson cannot be tackled. Saints eventually stall and Younghoe Koo makes a 50-yard field goal.
- NO: 7 - ATL: 13
- Saints take over at their 25-yard line with a minute to go and on third down, Winston is sacked again as New Orleans’ offensive line is no match for the Falcons’ pass rush.
- Saints punt and the Falcons take over at their 39-yard line. On the first play, Mariota find Drake London for a big reception to the Saints’ 30-yard line. Atlanta gets enough time to try for another field goal. Younghoe Koo makes a 40-yard attempt and the Falcons lead by 9 at halftime.
- NO: 7 - ATL: 16
- Saints receive the ball and drive into Falcons’ territory. On the drive Chris Olave gets his first NFL reception. Saints mix the run and the pass, but Winston is sacked by Michael Walker, forcing the Saints to settle for a 49-yard field goal, which Wil Lutz converts.
- NO: 10 - ATL: 16
- Falcons take over at their 25-yard line and drive near midfield by running Patterson. On a deep pass from Mariota to Olamide Zaccheaus, Marcus Maye commits a penalty and the Falcons have first-and-goal. On the next play, Marcus Mariota sneaks into the end zone for a touchdown.
- NO: 10 - ATL: 23
- Saints take over at their 25-yard line and Alvin Kamara gains 14 yards on the first play of the drive. On the following third down, Mark Ingram fumbles the ball and the Falcons recover deep in Saints territory.
- Atlanta takes over at the Saints’ 36-yard line. Falcons get inside the red zone on a pass by Mariota to London. Mariota attempts a run to the goal line and fumbles, Tyrann Mathieu recovers!
- Saints take over at their 5-yard line and immediately face a 3rd-and-7 from their 8-yard line. A pass from Winston to Thomas falls incomplete, and Saints have to punt. Falcons return the punt to midfield.
- Falcons take over at midfield and run the ball into Saints’ territory as the quarter ends.
- Falcons continue to find success passing the ball using the play-action pass and reach the Saints’ red zone. Falcons stall and opt for kicking another field goal. Koo makes a 27-yard attempt.
- NO: 10 - ATL: 26
- Saints take over at their 25-yard line. Winston throws three passes to Juwan Johnson, Alvin Kamara and Jarvis Landry and gets to the Falcons’ 4-yard line in a blink. Winston then finds Michael Thomas for a touchdown in a 4-play drive that happened in a blink. Winston finds Chris Olave for the two-point conversion.
- NO: 18 - ATL: 26
- Falcons take over at their 25-yard line and face a 4th-and-2 at midfield. Atlanta punts and Saints take over at their 13-yard line.
- Winston finds Chris Olave for a first down on the first pass of the drive. On 3rd-and-3, Winston finds Michael Thomas for a big first down into Falcons’ territory. Thomas comes alive as Winston finds him again for another long pass play. Winston finds Jarvis Landry inside the Falcons’ 10-yard line. Winston finds Michael Thomas again for another touchdown. The two-point conversion fails.
- NO: 24 - ATL: 26
- Falcons take over at their 25-yard line and run the ball to keep the clock running. Atlanta faces a 3rd-and-6 after the two-minute warning and a holding penalty on Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore gives Atlanta another first down. On third down, Mariota fumbles the snap, but recovers, however the Falcons are forced to punt.
- Saints fair-catch the ball at their own 11-yard line and a holding penalty on Atlanta puts the ball at the 21-yard line. Winston finds Jarvis Landry into Falcons’ territory.
- Winston finds Juwan Johnson and the Saints attempt a 51-yard field goal. Wil Lutz makes the field goal and the Saints lead by one with 19 seconds left on the clock.
- NO: 27 - ATL: 26
- Falcons take over at their 25-yard line and face a 3rd-and-10 with 10 seconds left. A personal foul on Marshon Lattimore gives the Falcons the ball at midfield and Younghoe Koo attempts a 63-yard field goal that the Saints block. New Orleans wins the opener at Atlanta 27-26.
Who is your MVP after the Saints’ comeback win in ATL?
This poll is closed
Michael Thomas. Welcome Back!
Jameis Winston, he brought it in the second half
Taysom Hill, he was the offense early
Chris Olave, who had some clutch catches
The defense, they held the Falcons scoreless late in the game