It was the type of game we all thought it would be. A hard hitting, intense battle that at times featured top offensive plays, and tense moments all encased in a raucous atmosphere.
Naturally the game came down to the final moments for it to be decided. This classic game edition would be decided on a fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. The hero was a diving Saints cornerback Jabari Greer who managed to bat-down a pass intended for Atlanta’s Roddy White.
The play preserving a 31-27 Saints (4-5) win that handed the Falcons (8-1) their first loss of the season. It was also the 11th win in 13 games for the Saints against the Falcons since 2006. No doubt Who Dats enjoying the fact they got a chance to quite the Falcons’ 16-0 chatter from during the week. Not surprisingly though following the game one dirty bird failed to give the Black and Gold credit. “It’s not like they came out here and won a game today,” Atlanta receiver Roddy White said. “I think we kind of game it to them…We play them in three weeks and we’ll be ready.”
Saints quarterback Drew Brees went 21 of 32 for 298 yards tossing three touchdowns and pick. One of those touchdowns was to wide receiver Marques Colston who tied Deuce McAllister for the team record in touchdowns with 55 touchdowns. Colston finished with 26 yards on just three catches. Lance Moore had 91 yards on seven catches.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was 34 of 52 for 411 passing yards to go with three touchdowns and an interception. The 411 yards was a career best for Ryan.
Tight ends Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzales had a battle of themselves as both men had solid days. Graham hauled in seven carries for 146 yards to go with two touchdowns. Gonzales had 11 receptions for 122 yards and had two touchdown receptions himself.
One of my keys to the game was the Saints running attack against the Falcons run defense. Atlanta entered the game 25th in the league at stopping the run. The Saints attacked on the ground all game and got things going with a bang in the first quarter thanks to Chris Ivory. Atlanta was up 10-0 and fans were barely in their seats wondering if this game about to get ugly when Ivory took off on a 56-yard touchdown run that featured speed, power and ended with a stiff arm. Ivory finished the day rushing for 72 yards on seven carries. Ivory’s long run was the longest scoring run on the ground since Deuce McAllister’s run of 57 yards back in 2006.
Mark Ingram rushed 16 times for 67 yards. Pierre Thomas carried it five times for 10 yards as the Saints as a team rushed 28 times for 148 yards.
Conversely the Saints defense which came in allowing just shy of 180 yard per game rushing allowed just 46 yards on the ground to the Falcons. Michael Turner was held to just 15 yards on 13 carries.
Take a breather because we’ll do it all again in few weeks as the Saints travel to Atlanta on Thursday night football November 29. Prior to that anticipated rematch the Saints travel to Oakland next week to face the raiders and then host the San Francisco 49ers. Both of those kickoffs will be late afternoon kickoffs.