Devastated. That would be the word of choice to describe my feelings after the loss to the Saints.
In a game, that saw the Falcons leave a lot of plays out on the field in the first 3 quarters. The Falcons showed a lot of character but also showed that there is still a lot of room for improvement
Despite long drives early on, they could not translate those into touchdowns, instead being forced to settle for field goals. Michael Turner had some success on the 1st drive recording 49 yards, but as the game progressed Turner’s effectiveness dropped due to the O-Line not being able to get substantial push.
As the game progressed the lack of points for the Falcons, was starting to hurt as Brees and company went down the field to score a touchdown to take the lead. Their lead didn’t last long, as a great individual effort by Jason Snelling in the 3rd quarter moved the Falcons back in front at 13-10 and the Falcons where finally showing a killer instinct on offense.
The back and forth game continued as a quick strike TD drive by Drew Brees, moved the Saints back in front at 17-13. Another FG took the Saints further ahead at 20-13. A killer turnover, an Interception off the poor effort to catch by Roddy White, in their Falcons’ own territory, seemingly put the Saints in the driving seat to secure the game. However a good defensive series by the Falcons, held them to just three points, and a 10 point lead in the game with half a quarter to go.
Down by 10, the Matty Ice we all know and love drove the Falcons down the field to bring the Falcons back to three points down at . On the ensuing kickoff the first controversial coaching decision of the game by the Falcons, was choosing to onside the kick, by just tapping the ball in front of the kicker. I thought that was a horrendous decision, if they were committed to going with the onside, at least give yourself a chance to recover it, beyond the 10 yards mark.
Anyway the Saints, recovered the onside, looking to kill the game off with good field position. They got themselves in FG range but a costly penalty (Holding on Jimmy Graham) pushed it back out of FG range, meaning the punter had to come on.
Starting the drive at their own five yard line, down by 3 with 1.54 to go, the Falcons pulled off one of the best “gut check” drives i can remember. The combination of two members from the 2008 draft class Matty “Ice” Ryan and Harry Douglass exploded for a couple of big plays, allowing the Falcons not only the opportunity to tie the game but to go and win it. Unfortunately the Falcons, could not translate this opportunity into a touchdown and settled for the FG sending it to overtime at 23-23.
The Falcons received the kickoff, but were not able to capitalize. Neither did New Orleans, giving Atlanta a second go in OT. On third down, the Falcons came close to getting a first down on a catch by Mike Cox, but was ruled just short after a review by the officials.
On 4th and inches, the Falcons staff made the gutsy call to go for it on their own 30. Its easy to say in hindsight, that they shouldn’t have gone for it, but you would think that 80/90% of the time the Falcons would convert that short distance, with their power running game. However the boldness didn’t pay off, and Smith will likely get wide criticism, as a result. I will not criticize him though, if the call had turned out well, everyone would have been calling him a genius. You can’t have it both ways. Unfortunately the great comeback by the Falcons, did not quite happen.
Despite the devastating nature of the loss the Falcons are not done. There is still plenty of football to be played, we have a few winnable games coming up and we will have a chance to exact revenge on these Saints in Week 16. Don’t get too comfortable a top the division New Orleans, we are coming for you!