The Falcons needed this win.
Atlanta moved to 8-5 on the season to remain afloat in the playoff race with a 20-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Who’s up and who’s down?
Any time you get a spectacular game-sealing interception, you’re going to end up here. The Saints had a chance to take the lead with 1:30 remaining in the final quarter. On Atlanta’s 11-yard line, Drew Brees tried to fit a pass in to tight end Josh Hill, but Jones had other plans, going up high for the pick. He was all over the field Thursday night, racking up 13 tackles — including a few for losses — and a couple of pass deflections. It was a stud performance from the linebacker.
Sanu had himself a nice game, hauling in six balls for 83 yards and a 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that tied the game. His best play was probably a 22-yard catch-and-run that saw him stiff arm cornerback Ken Crawley for about 15 yards down the field.
The Falcons’ top running back missed the last few games due to a concussion, but he returned in a big way. He carried the ball 24 times for 91 yards and a one-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Freeman showed off his agility and ability to make guys miss, and he consistently found the hole and burst through it. A caveat: the running back probably doesn’t make it on this list if his late fourth quarter fumble isn’t recovered by Wes Schweitzer.
It was a forgettable night for Ryan, and easily his worst game of the year. He finished with 221 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions on 15 of 27 passing. One of the interceptions wasn’t his fault, as — stopped me if you’ve heard this before — a Falcons receiver bobbled a ball into a defender’s hands. However, the other two interceptions — including a backbreaking turnover in the red zone — were simply bad decisions as he tried to force passes to Julio Jones.
Credit the second-year tight end with another interception. Hooper bobbled a pass that hit him right in that hands, allowing defensive back Chris Banjo to come up with an easy pick. He has to improve or the Falcons would be wise to take a closer look at the tight end position.
If Jones doesn’t save the day, then Quinn’s decision to decline the holding penalty that would’ve put the Saints at 3rd and 11 would be a hot topic. There was also the questionable clock management at the end of the first half that ultimately resulted in a turnover that the Saints were unable to capitalize upon.