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Falcons vs. Saints: Hat tips & head-scratchers

Jessie Bates went bonkers against New Orleans.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons are back on top in the NFC South, taking down the Saints 24-15 at home. Buoyed by an opportunistic defense that was lights out on third down, as well as a ground game that ground down New Orleans’ defense, the Falcons snapped their three-game losing streak and regained their advantage at the top of the division.

Read on for Hat tips & head-scratchers from the Falcons’ win over the Saints.

Hat tips

Jessie Bates puts the defense on his back

Hoooooboy. Talk about a defensive performance from safety Jessie Bates. Without his two forced turnovers, the Falcons likely do not come away with a win.

It started right when Atlanta needed it most, on the heels of a turnover on downs. The Saints were having their way with the Falcons’ secondary downfield and appeared destined for the end zone — until Bates made an incredible read and jumped the route to snare Derek Carr’s pass. Bates took the interception 92 yards into the end zone and immediately flipped the script on the game.

His next clutch play came in the third quarter — again, right after a Falcons turnover. With quarterback-gadget guy Taysom Hill rushing up the middle, Bates delivered a haymaker to the football and jarred it loose, forcing his second turnover on the day.

Jessie Bates has hands down been Atlanta’s best free agent signing in recent memory, and his performance against the Saints was just another accolade on an excellent first season in Atlanta.

Bijan breaks out

Good things happen when you make running back Bijan Robinson a focal point on offense and he showed it on Sunday against the Saints. Robinson finished the day with 16 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown, as well as three receptions for 32 yards — punctuated by an over-the-shoulder touchdown catch on a scrambling pass by Desmond Ridder.

Head-scratchers

Ridder’s two-pick game

Cleaning up the turnovers in the bye week? Not so much. Quarterback Desmond Ridder still has a lot of work to do in that department, tallying yet another game with multiple turnovers. The Falcons won despite Ridder’s mishaps on Sunday, due in large part to establishing the rushing attack and a stingy third-down defense.