I’m not quite sure why the Falcons even bothered getting on the plane to New Orleans. Another sleepwalk through 60 minutes, this time the final nail being firmly driven into the coffin of Atlanta’s season. It was an ugly way to cap off Thanksgiving Day, with few positives to takeaway in a game full of mistakes. If you went to bed with heartburn you weren’t alone — I was right there with you, and the whiskey had only a little to do with it.
Damontae Kazee leads the league (again)
Second-year defensive back Damontae Kazee’s progression in the defense has been one of the lone bright spots in a season of all encompassing darkness. He continued to make his case for a starting role in 2019, picking off Drew Brees and reclaiming his title of league leader in interceptions.
Kazee’s defensive play also came at a key moment in the game, right after Matt Ryan fumbled away the ball in the red zone. Damontae Kazee has lived up to his billing as a ballhawking defender, and will demand snaps next season.
A tip of the hat to each and every one of you who sat up through this unmitigated disaster. After a day filled with food and booze, turning in early sure did seem tempting, didn’t it? But you powered through and watched your football team wilt in spectacular fashion — against a bitter rival with a national audience. That’s dedication, for sure.
Deadrin Senat inactive
When the inactives were released, it was extremely curious that rookie defensive tackle Deadrin Senat was on it. Senat has put together a commendable campaign in his first year, and against a team that deploys its running backs as the Saints do, his presence in the middle seemed like something the Falcons could ill-afford to lose.
Dan Quinn apparently felt otherwise, opting to activate fullback Ricky Ortiz and leaving Deadrin Senat on the sidelines. His post-game explanation was cryptic at best, and did little to allay the criticisms of his decision making.
Deferring to the second half
To double down on the goofs in the decisions department, Quinn curiously decided the Falcons would defer to the second half upon winning the coin toss. Sporting a siev-like defense against a team with a near-unstoppable offense, it made little sense to allow them the opening possession.
That’s what Quinn did, and the Saints did what they do best: Marched 75 yards and put a touchdown on the board early.
Julio and Calvin fumbles
Both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley put together solid games, but their respective fumbles proved most decisive. In Julio’s case he attempted to gain a few extra yards by leaping over a defender, only to take a hit and lose the football. The turnover took away a prime opportunity to tighten the score before halftime.
Ridley’s was equally ridiculous, with the Falcons fighting to get back into the game late. Matt Ryan completed the 4th & 10 pass to Ridley, who took it just shy of the goal line before losing the handle and turning it over. That development would essentially evaporate any hope of Atlanta staging a comeback.