The New Orleans Saints started the game off slow and couldn’t get any touchdowns until the fourth quarter. The Atlanta Falcons were up 10-0 at the half and made the lead 24-6 late. New Orleans would fight back and took their first lead with a minute left, but Atlanta bled the clock down and kicked a field goal to win as time expired.
How It Happened:
The Falcons would start the game with the football. On a 3rd & 9, Matt Ryan goes deep to Cordarrelle Patterson down the right sideline for 34 yards. Three plays later, the Falcons would be in another third and long and punt after being stopped well short of the first down.
Starting from their own nine yard line, Mark Ingram would pick up nine yard on ground. After Alvin Kamara ran for the short first down, Ingram ran for another 11 yards himself to move the sticks. The following plays on second and third down, tight end Adam Trautman and Kenny Stills would drop passes that resulted in punting the ball back to the dirty birds.
On the first play of the drive, Ryan connected with rookie tight end Kyle Pitts for 39 yards and put the Falcons in Saints territory. After runs by Patterson and Ryan, Ryan found Patterson for 13 yards and a first down in the redzone. The Saints defense would force the Falcons to bring out Younghoe Koo kick a 32 yard field. The attempt was successful and gave Atlanta the 3-0 lead with under five minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Saints came out swinging to start the next drive going with the ground and pound approach their first five plays. Kamara rushed for 23 yards on a couple of carries and fullback Alex Armah ran for nine yards himself in the first three plays. Kamara carried it himself on first and second down and on third down, Trevor Siemian hit Deonte Harris for nine more yards and the first down. After multiple penalties and a dropped pass by Harris, New Orleans would throw the drive away and punt on 4th & 27 back to Atlanta.
The defense for the Saints forced a three-and-out by stuffing Patterson and Mike Davis for minimal yards and stopped the tight end screen to Hayden Hurst for no gain. The following possessions for each team would result in turnovers on downs. Trautman dropped his second pass of the game for the Saints fourth down and linebacker Pete Werner stuffed the Falcons running back on their fourth down attempt. Even though New Orleans started in Atlanta territory, the offense still went backwards and gave the ball right back after three plays with five and half minutes left in the second quarter.
The dirty birds would start their next drive at their own eight yard line and move the ball easily and kept themselves ahead of the chains the whole drive. Once the two minute warning passed, the Falcons were put in a third and medium situation; Ryan on the play connected with Pitts for 16 yards and were now in Saints territory. With under 30 second to go in the half, Ryan found Russell Gage for 20 on 3rd & 2 to put them at the New Orleans 20 yard line. Just before the first half came to a close, on the 15th play of the drive, Ryan completed the three yard pass to Olamide Zaccheaus on 2nd & Goal for the game’s first touchdown with three seconds left.
Coming out of the half, the Saints received the ball and got their star player involved in both the running and passing game. Kamara’s first two catches came on the drive for 30 yards. The drive stalled inside the Falcons 20 and Saints kicker Brian Johnson made the 35 yard field goal attempt to make the score 10-3 in favor of the Falcons.
Atlanta responded with a scoring drive of their own that took seven plays and four minutes off the clock. Ryan on second and long went down the middle to Zaccheaus, who picked 49 yards on the play before being pushed out of bounds. Ryan, four plays later, kept it himself for a one yard touchdown run to extend their lead to 17-3.
Now down 14 points late in the third quarter, the Saints drove down the field for their second score of the game. In the drive, Siemian completed passes to Tre’Quan Smith for 20 yards, Marquez Callaway for 15 yards and Kamara for an additonal 15 yards. On 2nd & 8 at the Atlanta 34, Stills would drop his second pass of the game and force the Saints into a third and long. Siemian overthrew Callaway the following play and the Saints would settle for a Johnson 52 yard field and now were down 11 points, 11 second into the fourth quarter.
The defense for New Orleans gave their offense a chance after they forced a punt. After a loss of one for Ingram, Taysom Hill came in at quarterback and completed back-to-back passes to both Smith for 14 yards and Harris for 19 yards. Siemian went back under center after the Hill completions. On 1st & 15 following a false start, Siemian was strip sacked and the ball was recovered by the Falcons and taken back to the Saints six yard line. It only took one play for the Falcons to find pay dirt as Ryan found Zaccheaus for his second score of the contest.
Now down 24-6 with 10:30 left in the game, the Saints wouldn’t fool around anymore. Siemian marched the offense right down the field, completing seven out of eight passes on the drive and connected with Callaway, who was in the back corner of the endzone to finish the drive.
Atlanta would have to punt after a three-and-out and New Orleans got the ball right back. Harris was brought out of bounds at the 31 yard line, but an unnecessary roughness was called for the tackle out of bound and pushed the ball forward 15 more yards to the Saints 46. Siemian would go deep to Harris but couldn’t connect as he was interfered with for the second play in a row and put the ball on the Falcons side of the field. On third and long, the Falcons defense dialed up a blitz and Siemian was sacked by Foyesade Oluokun, but Oluokun on the play was flagged for roughing the passer as he went for the head area of the quarterback. The fresh set of downs gave the Saints another chance as Kamara would run in for the two yard touchdown a few plays later. The black and gold would fail the two-point conversion, but were now only down 24-19.
The Saints defense forced their second three-and-out of the quarter with two sacks on Ryan. One came from Cam Jordan on second down and the other from Marcus Davenport on third down.
On the Saints final possession, Siemian finally connected with Stills for 22 yards on first down. After the two minute warning, Harris caught his sixth pass of the afternoon for eight yards and the first down. Two plays later, Siemian found Stills again for eight yards and gave the Saints their first lead with a minute to go. New Orleans went for one more two-point conversion with a Kamara run, but Kamara slipped and was tackled short of the goal line.
Patterson came up clutch for the dirty birds as he caught his second long pass of the game, this time on rookie corner Paulsen Adebo for 64 yards and the Falcons sat pretty in field goal range at the Saints 11 yard line. Koo would make a 29 yard field goal as time expired to win 27-25.
BIG NUMBER: 6
Saints receivers and skill players dropped six passes, which really slowed down the offense in the first half and was one of the reasons for the Saints playing catchup most of the game.
Player of the Game: Matt Ryan
Ryan completed 23 of 30 pass attempts, threw for 340 yard and scored three total touchdowns. He also picked up a couple of first downs with his legs in the win over the divisional rival Saints.
NEXT UP: @ Titans; Kickoff at 12:00