The Atlanta Falcons are your #2 seed in the NFC and scored 35 points in the first half of this one, and...well, the second half can be re-lived briefly below and then forgotten. There was bad defense, bad offense, and some troubling potential injuries that could reverberate down the line, but for now, let’s go with the fact that a win is a win and the Falcons have two weeks to get healthy and prepared for their next opponent.
Kudos to the Falcons for a great season, and re-live this one (especially the second half) at your own peril.
The Falcons forced an immediate three and out in a rocking Georgia Dome, looking just as fast and physical as you’d hope.
The offense then took over and did what the offense is wont to do: Annihilate the Saints defense. They took just a handful of plays to get down the field and score, with Matt Ryan going a perfect 4/4 for 68 yards and a touchdown. 7-0, good guys.
The Saints turned around and showed why their offense is so intimidating, marching down the field and nearly scoring on a Coby Fleener touchdown catch that was reversed on review. They luckily had to settle for a field goal, and Atlanta was up 7-3.
Then the Falcons got a 75 yard touchdown run from Devonta Freeman, ho-hum. 14-3. Then the Saints promptly made their way back down the field, scoring a quick and easy touchdown to bring the score to 14-10. We still aren’t done with the first quarter at this point.
The Falcons got going and were in the red zone by the time the first quarter finally ended.
The Atlanta Falcons scored to start the second quarter thanks to the unstoppable Julio Jones. 21-10, Atlanta.
The Saints subsequently fizzled out, with the Falcons getting the ball back and moving down the field with abandon en route to another touchdown, this time to Mohamed Sanu. At this point in the game, Matt Ryan had 152 yards and three touchdowns already, and the Falcons were up 28-10.
The Saints managed a field goal on their next drive to bring it to a 15 point game. Lol.
Then the Falcons finished things up with a touchdown, giving Matt Ryan four on the half, and the Falcons were up 35-13.
The Saints actually got a stop to start this quarter, picking up a key third down sack of Matt Ryan. The Falcons followed suit, keeping the Saints from going anywhere and forcing a punt.
Gonna be honest with you: The third quarter was a bit of a slog, especially by the standards of these two teams. The Falcons managed a field goal along the way, but otherwise the score remained unchanged through the quarter, making it 38-13 Falcons.
The Saints got the scoring going in the fourth quarter, capping a long, efficient drive down the field with a pass from Brees to Michael Thomas. The subsequent two point conversion failed, thankfully, leaving the Saints down 19 points.
The Falcons had Matt Ryan trot back out, but they just couldn’t get anything going against a suddenly motivated Saints defense, and were forced to punt. The Saints, for their part, got moving immediately against a tiring Falcons defense, gliding down the field. Thankfully, Jalen Collins came up with a big red zone interception to put the brakes on New Orleans.
The Falcons simply couldn’t get any offense going yet again, however, and they looked completely gassed at this point. After a punt, the Saints ran the ball for 46 yards on just two carries with Mark Ingram, and then he punched in a short touchdown. The two point conversion failed, thankfully, and the Saints were down 38-25.
Then they got the ball back, recovering an onside kick. They were forced into a fourth down situation Brees easily converted to Michael Thomas, forced into another fourth down they converted, and they were able to score, kick the extra point, and make it 38-32.
Luckily, the Falcons ended the game by recovering the onside kick, kneeled it, and victory was theirs.