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Game Recap: Saints vs. Falcons

New Orleans loses in crucial divisional matchup.

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

In what was a crucial divisional game that will likely have playoff implications, the New Orleans Saints laid a goose egg against their rival the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints offense made five trips into the red zone and fell short of scoring a touchdown on each of those trips, ultimately being the major difference in the game.

Offensively, this team moved the ball pretty effectively at times but failed to finish drives. QB Derek Carr quickly found a connection with WR Chris Olave early on in the game, hitting on 7 of 9 targets for 114 yards before Olave left the game due to injury. The offense totaled 444 yards on the day, 296 through the air and 148 on the ground. A well-balanced attack for the most part just unable to find success in the red zone. Injuries to Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and already being without Michael Thomas definitely make things more difficult but you still have to find a way to score.

One of the most crucial points in the game also came in the red zone where Derek Carr locked in on Rashid Shaheed on a slant and was picked off by Atlanta S Jessie Bates which he took all the way for a score. This game likely could have been very different in terms of momentum if the Saints are able to get points on this drive instead of giving up 7.

On the defensive side, the team started off the game pretty sound not really allowing QB Desmond Ridder to make many throws but in the second half of the game Atlanta’s running game really started to get going with RB’s Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgier. The team allowed 228 yards on the ground on 41 carries, an average of 5.6 ypc. The team could not seem to find an answer to Atlanta’s outside zone run scheme in which they will make you pay by cutting backside if you over pursue or finding the edge if you are hesitant. The Saints had no answers for this. To be fair, the team did find success getting a couple turnovers by S Tyrann Mathieu which helped the team stay in the game, but the offense could not capitalize at all. The defense would have likely played a whole different game if the team was actually able to score points.

On special teams, K Blake Grupe had a really good day hitting on 5 of his 6 field goal attempts, missing only his last one. Grupe hit kicks from all over the field and single handedly kept the Saints in this game when it is not his job to do that. My hat goes off Grupe for doing his thing when all the pressure is on him as a rookie. Impressive job.

Next week, the Detroit Lions come into New Orleans coming off of a tough loss versus Green Bay on Thanksgiving. The Saints are very banged up going into what’s going to be their toughest matchup of the year. They are likely going to need a miracle to come up victorious in this one.