To get ready for every New Orleans Saints season, and to beat the summer I-gotta-have-football blues, I usually rewatch the games from the year before. It’s always great to remember the good times, and when you rewatch games, moments come up that didn’t seem big at the time but are. Like when all of the sudden Jimmy Graham started making plays, and you were like, who is that?
So, as we count down to training camp, I have started my 2022 season rewatch from the start.
It’s Saints vs. the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome (I still call it that) in NFL Kickoff weekend.
What we need to remember:
For a Falcons game, it was pretty full in the stands. I mean, it was Week 1. But it’s clear that there are Saints fans all over. When Taysom Hill takes off on that long run in the first quarter, the place gets loud.
So yeah, Taysom gets that big run and… for most of the rest of the first half the Saints do nothing. Like, nothing.
The Saints offensive line looks horrible. Spot starter James Hurst gets beat on a blitz. The Falcons are crushing Jameis Winston and the Saints defensive line features Christian Ringo wearing No. 57 and really, no one should wear No. 57 for the Saints anymore. He does a great job chasing down Falcons who are 10 yards down the field.
Cordarrelle Patterson and the Falcons are dominating the line of scrimmage, just running over the right side of the Saints defensive line. It’s 16-7 at halftime. Its 26-10 going into the fourth quarter.
But wait… these are the Falcons!
Atlanta is going for the kill shot, its 23-10 and Marcus Mariota (the C-list star of Netflix “Quarterback”) fumbles inside the five. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but it’s the biggest play of the game, because the Saints take over.
The fourth quarter – sadly – might be the most exciting quarter of the year for the Saints. Jameis is (hurt) but throwing dimes. Jarvis Landry (remember him?) has a big catch. Michael Thomas (checks notes) is playing and has two TD catches.
Still, the Falcons lead 26-24 and just need a yard to get a first down near midfield to seal it, but Mariota fumbles?! The Falcons punt.
Then its Winston to Landry. Then Winston… spikes the ball even though the clock is stopped and gets an intentional grounding penalty (just when you think you’ve seen it all). So, then Winston has to hit Juwan Johnson for a nice gain to put the Saints back in FG range. The clock is running, the Saints can let it run out and kick on the last play of the game, but…
Winston spikes the ball again with 23 seconds left.
So, he spiked the ball twice when he really didn’t have to.
Will Lutz comes in and drills the kick. 27-26 Saints, but the Falcons have 18 seconds left.
Mariota, who eventually quits on the team after being benched (I’ve watched every episode of Quarterback) throws a pass over the middle, clock runs out. Saints celebrate.
But wait. Marcus Lattimore is called for a penalty after the play and the refs say the Falcons called a timeout with two seconds left. (NFL refs love the Saints).
Now the Falcons can try a 63-yarder to win the game.
It’s blocked. Saints win. The TV shows the Saints celebrating, and for some reason Patterson has a big smile on his face? He plays for the Falcons.
What we thought at the time:
The offense just took a little while to come together but looked great in the fourth. Landry and Mike Thomas were amazing. Winston could really sling it. Yes, giving up so many sacks and not being able to stop the run was a concern, but that can get fixed.
Even with the start of the Dennis Allen Era, the Saints were still better than the Falcons, who just have that “we just can’t win when it matters” stink on them.
Player of the Game:
Jarvis Landry had seven catches for 114 yards. Pete Werner had 11 tackles, wow, he looks good! (In reality, he makes a lot of tackles six yards down the field).
What is next?
Some guy named Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to the Superdome for Week 2. Good. We have his number.