Welcome everyone to the latest edition of #4Downs where I break down what went right and what went wrong for the New Orleans Saints! This week, we look at the Saints win over the Atlanta Falcons!
1st Down: Penalties Hurt Falcons
The biggest takeaway from the matchup between these two teams on Thursday night football was the amount of penalties on the Saints defense that helped extend several of their drives. It’s safe to say that the penalties were the big takeaway from this one.
The Falcons racked up 10 penalties for a whopping 91 yards on Sunday afternoon, with most of them being on the offense. In fact, there was one drive that saw the Falcons commit three straight penalties, moving them from around midfield back to their own 29-yard line. That wound up helping the Saints make it 6-0 late in the second quarter.
2nd Down: Inefficient on Third Down
The Saints still can’t get out of their own way on third down. The offensive effort all season has been on par with recent seasons and the run game hasn’t been this good in years. However, only converting three of their 13 third downs isn’t going to win many ballgames.
The only thing that helped the Saints was that their defense was able to hold the Falcons at bay on third down as well.
3rd Down: Stellar Defensive Effort
Speaking of the defense, they put together an all-around solid effort, especially when it comes to the front seven. They brought the heat to Matty Ice all game long and sacked him a total of five times.
You add that to the now infamous “butt pick” by Matshon Lattimore, the Saints may have put together one of their best defensive efforts of 2017.
4th Down: Almost Perfect Christmas
When you look at most Saints fans Christmas lists, most of the things they wanted were crossed off. Beating the Falcons and clinching a playoff spot was towards the top, but they were unable to clinch the playoff spot on Sunday afternoon as Cam Newton got the Panthers a big win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers late.
The Saints will need to win on Sunday to clinch the NFC South for the first time since the 2011 season. It might be a week late, but New Orleans should be able ring in the New Year as the division champions with a matchup against the Bucs.