The Atlanta Falcons went into the Superdome and they beat the Saints. That isn’t something this team has been able to accomplish with any degree of regularity, and it was fun and delightful and refreshing.
The offense was on fire, and the defense had lapses, and while those lapses are consistent and concerning, it worked out okay this time because the offense was amazing. Also, the Saints defense is very bad.
As is often the case, the Falcons defense looked inept on the first drive, and the Saints struck first on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Coby Fleener. Fleener has not been great since joining the Saints, but Atlanta’s defense continues to struggle against tight ends, I guess.
On the ensuing kick, Eric Weems had a fantastic return -- 42 yards — and then Atlanta ended up punting. Still, the Saints did Atlanta a huge favor.
The Falcons recovered the fumble and got the ball in the red zone. Even though it was the red zone, the Falcons turned it into a Tevin Coleman score — the first of many.
The Falcons were working out of the no huddle, and lo and behold, they were able to get into the end zone again on a beautiful swing play to Devonta Freeman. Freeman was totally untouched.
The defense, though, then missed about four tackles on one Saints run. They’re a work in progress.
Still, we’re seeing improvement on the offensive side of the ball. The Falcons legitimately look good in the red zone all of a sudden. Another Coleman touchdown — he was on fire — and the Falcons took a 21-14 lead over the Saints.
Then Atlanta scored again, going up 28-14. The Saints added a long field goal to make it 28-17 going into the half.
The Falcons came back out after the half and kept moving the ball, with Ryan extending plays with his legs. One of the things that made things easier on the offense in this game was that Freeman and Coleman were getting pretty equal work. Coleman’s third touchdown of the game was the fifth touchdown the Falcons had scored on the last five possessions.
The team, and fans, were feeling pretty confident, and then the Saints just started chewing up Atlanta’s defense to an embarrassing extent. A John Kuhn score and 2-point conversion made it a 10-point game.
The Falcons tacked on a Matt Bryant field goal to extend the lead to 38-25. They also got an actual sack, and of course it came from cornerback Desmond Trufant and not any actual pass rushers. Still, we’ll take it.
Brees was chewing up this defense like a hot knife through butter, but rookie linebacker Deion Jones had a pick-six to put the Falcons up 45-25. This is fantastic. He literally outran receiver Brandin Cooks to take it all the way back for the touchdown.
Sure enough, the Saints drove right back down the field, with Brees connecting with TE Coby Fleener on a long pass down the middle. After a few runs, Brees connected with running back Mark Ingram for the touchdown, bringing the score to 45-32. You can never count this team out.
The Falcons got the ball back and failed to produce any additional points, giving the Saints crowd reason to get excited. Sacking Matt Ryan on a key third down ignited the Super Dome. Bosher was able to punt it a mile in the air and pin the Saints inside their own 20.
Brees and the Saints got the ball back, and promptly began to work their way down the field, eating up clock as they went. Dwight Freeney was able to get a critical sack, followed by a tackle-for-loss by Brian Poole. This setup a fourth and 21 that the Saints were unable to convert, with pressure forcing Brees out of the pocket.
The Falcons got the ball back, and Devonta Freeman converted his first run for a first down (with a hilarious Matt Ryan stumble), effectively putting the game away, minus the burn the clock details to come.