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The first half of Falcons - Saints ends on a very weird note

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Poor clock management, an ugly interception, and a costly special teams penalty take us to the second half.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons were driving into field goal range when things went extremely awry. Somehow, neither the Falcons nor the Saints wound up with points in the final 30 seconds of the first half, but one of them should have.

It all began when the Falcons connected with a first down to Taylor Gabriel. The team had two timeouts left and figured to use one with the clock running down, but instead, they wound up letting the clock run down to 12 seconds before attempting to snap the ball. The refs decided, at that point, that the Gabriel catch needed to be reviewed, and after confirming it, put two seconds back on the clock.

Because it was a rolling clock, the Falcons immediately called a timeout. Things got ominous in a hurry.

Matt Ryan threw a pick, and it wasn’t immediately clear whether it was simply a bad throw by #2, a poor route by Julio Jones, a hold by Marshon Lattimore, a great football play by Lattimore, or some combination of the four. The Falcons were able to tackle Lattimore, but it set the Saints up to kick a 47 yard field goal with four seconds left in the half.

Lutz hit that field goal, but the Saints made a mistake and got nailed with an illegal formation penalty, which would have backed them up five yards...if the referees could put any time back on the clock. They could not, per the NFL’s grimoire of a rulebook, and so we went into halftime with a 10-10 tie.

That was legitimately one of the weirder sequences you’ll see, and we’ll have to hope that Atlanta’s inability to get three points there will come back to bite them later.