The Atlanta Falcons have a winning record and will be in the playoff hunt regardless of how today’s game ends, but they have been a massively frustrating team along the way, with so many unlucky plays along the way. No play has better summed up this season, with all its myriad frustrations, than the play we will simply call the Butt Interception.
With the Falcons having about a minute left on the clock before halftime, they were set to drive down the field and attempt to score to close the gap, with the Saints up just 6-0. For some reason, the Falcons had Julio Jones off the field on third down, and Marvin Hall had a route over the middle of the field for a first down. Matt Ryan’s throw might have been a hair high, but it wasn’t by much, and yet it still went off of Hall’s hands and into the air.
What happened next was equal parts hilarious and tragic. The ball landed on the butt of a prone Saints defender, rolling around but never touching the ground, and Hall sort of stood and started at it for too long. Another Saints defender came along and scooped the ball off his comrade’s glutes, and incredibly, Matt Ryan was hit with yet another interception, his 12th of the year and yet another example of a play he had very little control over going horribly awry. The Saints scored shortly thereafter to make it 13-0.
Unless this year ends with an unexpected deep playoff or even Super Bowl run, this play will be defining image of the 2017 season, with all its faults and foibles. I still can’t believe it happened.