The key for the Atlanta Falcons upsetting the New Orleans Saints on Sunday wasn’t stopping Drew Brees, it’s stopping Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray.
Both the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints have quarterbacks that are coming off of injuries. Matt Ryan played Sunday and Drew Brees returned last week after missing the majority of the first half of the season with a thumb injury.
Brees didn’t miss a step in his return against the Arizona Cardinals, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns on 37 completions. It is very hard to stop Brees, let alone slow him down, so don’t be surprised if he finishes the game with 400 yards and a handful of touchdowns. That is expected of him. however, Drew Brees’s performance throughout the game will not be the main story.
The story of the game was the rushing attack of the Saints and the Atlanta Falcons being able to stop it and as pressuring Drew Brees.
Kamara has consistently been one of the best running backs in the league since he was drafted in 2017 and has proven to be just as dangerous through the air as he is on the ground. The return of Kamara, added with the emergence of Murray as a viable second option in the backfield during Kamara’s absence makes the Saints as dangerous as ever.
The run defense for the Falcons this season has been pretty terrible for the most part, so if they had let Kamara and Murray run all over them, this game would have been over by halftime. However, this Falcons defense came to play for the first time all year and made the Saints one dimensional and then got to Brees all night.
Offensively for the Falcons, the return of Ryan helped the team’s chances of at least keeping the game close and thankfully a shootout, like so many of these games tend to be, never materialized as the Falcons defense held the Saints to three points on several important drives.
The running game that had been non-existent, forcing Ryan to throw the ball 45 to 50 times every game this season, re-appeared today and Brian Hill emerged as a weapon for the Falcons.
If the Atlanta Falcons come out with energy and passion every week, they could pull off the upset in several more games this year. The only way this happens is if the defense can keep the opponents running backs in check for the entire game.