Sometimes rivalry games just don't go exactly the way that people would think. Most of the writers at VAVEL USA had picked the Atlanta Falcons to go into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and come out with a victory. In fact, only Jon-Michael Bagay was able to correctly see through the fog and pick the New Orleans Saints to come out of this battle victoriously.
But the Saints simply played better in this game from the start to the finish, as the Falcons couldn't find ways to hold onto the ball as they simply made too many mistakes to be able to get a victory on the road this week.
The Saints started off with the ball and they were able to convert several key third downs on their opening drive. First, Drew Brees was able to find an open Josh Hill for a quick 12 yard gain on third and six. On the next third down, Brees found Hill again for a nice 19 yard gain. Then Mark Ingram was able to find just enough room to convert a third and one for a one yard gain. Three plays later Ingram would take the ball on a first and goal from the two and get those two yards for the opening touchdown of the game. Zach Hocker would hit the extra point and the Saints were up 7-0.
The Falcons looked like they were going to go quickly down the field for their drive as well, when Matt Ryan found Julio Jones for a 30 yard gain. But then there was the first penalty of the game, as Ryan Schraeder would be called for offensive holding. They would wind up with a fourth and one at the Saints 34 yard line. But instead of putting Matt Bryant out there for a 51 yard field goal attempt, Dan Quinn and the Falcons decided they were going to go for it on fourth down. But Ryan wound up fumbling the ball and jumping on it for a turnover on downs.
The Falcons would not fair any better on their next drive. As it looked like it was going to be a third and out after Ryan was sacked for a loss of 11 by Kasim Edebali. But the Saints special teams had other plans. Matt Bosher took the punt and attempted to get the kick off, but it was indeed blocked by Michael Mauti who would go the remaining few yards to make it into the end zone as the Saints were up quickly 14-0.
The Falcons needed to do something as they received the next kickoff and the Saints home stadium was going absolutely wild. The drive would be successful as Ryan was able to pick up several first downs as they went 80 yards in 9 plays culminating in a Roddy White touchdown. The next Falcons drive went down into the red zone as well, but didn't turn out nearly as well, as Tevin Coleman would wind up fumbling the ball at the Saints nine yard line as he was stripped of the ball by Dannell Ellerbe, Brandon Browner was able to recover the football for the Saints.
Then, right after the two minute warning, Matt Ryan would fumble another bad snap by the Falcons center James Stone. It would wind up in the hands of Ellerbe and the Saints would stop yet another Falcons drive in the red zone. It was a rough first half for the Falcons, as they would wind up going into halftime trailing by a score of 14-7, but all hope was not lost at this point.
The Saints started off hot in the second half too, as they would drive down into the red zone offensively and end up trusting the foot of Hocker who put them up 17-7. The Saints defense forced a three and out and then Brees would end up finding Benjamin Watson for a two yard touchdown reception as the Saints had gone for the touchdown on a fourth and two and were able to succeed. Watson was absolutely amazing as he had the game of his career, with 10 catches, 127 yards, and this big touchdown. They were up 24-7 with 2:23 left in the third, and it just felt like the game was going to be over.
Jacob Tamme was able to keep the game alive though for the Falcons as he had a huge 20 yard gain on a fourth and five. Then two plays later it would be the former Seminole in Devonta Freeman who was able to scamper in from 25 yards out to get a touchdown.
But the Saints would not be stopped. They were able to shred the Falcons defense again as they would march right down the field again. Mark Ingram had his second touchdown of the game as he fought quite hard to get the ball into the end zone as he was getting hit just shy of the goal line. It was back to a 31-14 lead and there was only eight minutes left.
The Falcons would wind up scoring a touchdown as Freeman had a would score a receiving touchdown after catching a big fourth down reception earlier in the drive. Jones also had a big fourth down catch of his own right before the Freeman touchdown. The Falcons would not be able to convert the onside kick and while the Saints did punt the ball away, Ryan fumbled as Cameron Jordan stripped the ball and recovered the football. Drew Brees would kneel in the victory formation as the Saints officially won 31-21.
Passing: Drew Brees (30/39, 312 yards, 1 touchdown)
Rushing: Devonta Freeman (13 carries, 100 yards, 1 touchdown)
Receiving: Benjamin Watson (10 catches, 127 yards, 1 touchdown)
The Atlanta Falcons (5-1) will be on the road again as they will travel to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans (1-3). This will be an interesting game for Harry Douglas as he faces his former team in the Falcons. Meanwhile the New Orleans Saints (2-4) will go on the road next week as they will have to travel North to face an AFC South rival as well when they go up against the Indianapolis Colts (3-2) in week six.