Just another Falcons vs Saints classic. That seems to be what has become the norm when these two teams meet. Overtime games, back and forth scoring, lots of momentum swings, lead changes, and and someone getting a win by only a few points. It’s exactly what you want any great rivalry to be about and that is just what happened on Sunday.
Despite the 26-23 loss, there were lots of big plays and players that stepped it up for Atlanta. Lets be honest though, everyone wants to talk about the not so “controversial” call, so I will oblige. Let me start by saying that Mike Smith is one hell of a football coach. He is really almost everything that you want your teams coach to be. He is cool, calm and collected, yet not afraid to let his emotions show through when necessary. He is generally conservative, but he knows when to be aggressive and is usually on the right side of those calls. The players love him and are willing to go with anything he says confidently and without hesitation. He is honest with the media and fans. He is meticulous in his approach to the game and will he leaves no stone unturned.
When the Falcons first hired him, I wasn’t really too sure about him. It really seemed like they had hired a “yes” man. But it didn’t take long to realize that this a guy with the right kind of attitude and mentality to be a great leader of men. Sometimes it takes more than being a stern disciplinarian to accomplish that, it takes an understanding of controlling a group by connecting individually. With that said, I think that Coach Smith made the right call to go for it on the fourth and inches late in the overtime game. Not only was it the right call, but it was the only call. I know that myself, I was standing up yelling at and threating my tv when I saw them originally come out with the punting unit. If you punt in that situation it is basically conceding to them.
Disagree? Well then you must not be paying attention. To give Drew Brees and his assortment of weapons another shot after already getting one OT stop, would be one major task to ask of the defense. I know that for the most part we had been playing good in defense in this one, but there is only so many times you can stop those guys. Lets look at it, we were on our 30 yard line. Matt Bosher has had quite a few struggles this year, but lets say he gets a good punt off. The ball will come down at their 30 at best, guess who is returning the ball, yeah that’s right Darren Sproles. He already had a good average against us and almost busted a big one.
Lets say he had to fair catch it, well that is already getting into a lot of “lets says” and I’m just getting to Brees. If he got the ball at the 30 and all he has to do is get close to our 30 to be back in field goal range, that’s only 40 yards and we have seen him throw 40 yard passes on us since the day he walked in the door to the Super dome. It is all speculative though, none of us can say what would have happened if the call was to punt. Maybe it would have been fumbled for a TD return. All we can do is talk about what happened and this time the cards were in the Saints favor. As for me, I am just happy to have a coach that is not afraid to play for the win instead of playing not to lose.
I guess I didn’t really give myself much time to actually break the game down, but here’s a quicky. Matt Ryan had a good game completing 29 of his 52 passes for 351 yards and 2 tds. He had a few bad decisions that could have cut the game short, but lucked out. He also had an interception that was a slightly bad throw behind Roddy White. Harry Douglas finally had that big game that he needed to get his full confidence back after his knee surgery. The O line is still looking good for the most part in both run and pass blocking, minus the Roman Harper sack. The holes have been there and Micheal Turner is really hitting them well. He had 96 yards on 22 carries for an average of 4.4 yards per carry. Jaquizz Rodgers is really showing some good flashes too, he is hard for defenders to take down and has a good knack for turning around backwards when defenders get there hands on him and he keeps driving his legs for another yard or two.
On defense the game plan was good and outside of a few blown coverages the execution was pretty good as well. We have seen what Sproles has been doing to teams this year but the Falcons D held him to 1 yard rushing and 2 yards receiving. The Saints only amounted a total of 41 rushing yards, that is great for any defense against any offense in a game in the NFL. Brees and company however got their numbers. I am afraid that with the scheme that Atlanta runs defensively as long as Brees is in New Orleans we will see big numbers everytime we face him. I would like to have seen some more pressure, the D line didn’t harass the Saints very much and there were not very many blitzes called, but over all the plan worked pretty well so it’s hard to complain. We split wins with them last year and we got the one in New Orleans, so I’m predicting a week 16 win for number 10 on the season.