Falcons vs. Saints – Who Earned Their Wings


November 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is pressured by New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Falcons 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

This is the first time I’ve handed out ‘Wings’ to Falcons players after a loss. As an even bigger first time, this is the first time as editor of Blogging Dirty I will hand out ‘Wings’ to Falcons after a loss. There’s a first for everything. This week I’m looking at the players who played the best despite the loss, or despite the supporting cast they may have had around them.

Quarterback Matt Ryan- Ryan was very good, and could have been so much better had he had some sort of run game helping him out. Ryan didn’t have any play-action game to speak of and still went 34-of-52, for 411 yards, 3 touchdowns and only 1 interception. To say he carried this team offensively would be an understatement, but I don’t know of any other way to say it. Ryan carried this team offensively. It wan’t even his best day, but he had a passer rating of 100.7, and carried this team. The Falcons found a way to lose despite his very good play.

Tight End Tony Gonzalez- Gonzalez was spectacular against the Saints. He caught 11 passes for 122 yards. He simply reeled in everything that was physically possible for him to catch. On top of that, Gonzalez had two touchdown catches. The first of those was his 100th career touchdown catch. He is the first tight end in NFL history to catch 100 touchdown passes. And now he has 101. He definitely earned his wings today.

Linebacker Stephen Nicholas- Nicholas was one the few defenders who had a good day against the Saints. Nicholas had 5 solo tackles in addition to 2 combo tackles, got the only sack of Drew Brees, and one of those tackles went for a loss. In a day where the Falcons didn’t do a particularly good job of blitzing Brees or tackling in the run game, Nicholas was the lone bright spot. He did a very good job filling in for the injured Sean Weatherspoon.

Cornerback Asante Samuel- It would be very easy to say that he could have done more, especially when he got hit with a 15-yard excessive celebration penalty after his interception. He also didn’t keep contain on the Chris Ivory touchdown run. But the fact of the matter is that he also had three other passes defended and played a small part in containing the Saints pass attack to the degree that they did. You can tell I’m not really sold on giving him the Wings this week, but he deserves it more than most other players this week.