Game 1 Reaction: Saints vs. Falcons


Sep 7, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons strong safety William Moore (25) causes a fumble by New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston (12) during overtime at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 37-34 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons 37, Saints 34 (F/OT)

Saints defense shredded for 568 yards, late Colston fumble helps Atlanta escape with Week One win

It may have only been the first game of the season, but Who Dat Nation was left feeling quite disappointed with the Week 1 results of the Saints vs. Falcons matchup. The Saints jumped out to an early 13-0 lead, powered by a heavy dose of Brandin Cooks. Atlanta would answer with a touchdown drive of their own, and the Saints would end up going up 20-7. After that? The Falcons would go on a 17-point unanswered tear.

In the end of it all, the Falcons would force overtime, cause a turnover on the Saints opening overtime drive, and kick the game winning field goal to prevail 37-34.

"“Look obviously that’s a tough game to lose. I just finished telling our players every once in a while you get one of these games where the scores go back and forth and the small details especially when you are in overtime just magnifies any little mistake. I thought we played hard yet it still wasn’t good enough. Credit Atlanta they did a great job today and again it’s a tough way to start but we will bounce back.” -Sean Payton"

Quick Box Score Stats

Total First Downs: New Orleans (30), Atlanta (28)

Third Down Efficiency: New Orleans (61% – 8/13), Atlanta (54% –  6/11)

Total Net Yards: New Orleans (472), Atlanta (568)

Sacks: New Orleans (1), Atlanta (0)

Turnovers: New Orleans (2), Atlanta (1)

Time of Possession: New Orleans (30:25), Atlanta (31:18)

Let’s look at some key points from the game.

Byrd’s the Word

The highlight from the beginning of the game. It looked as though Julio Jones would stroll into the end zone for an Atlanta score. However, Jairus Byrd forced a fumble, which resulted in the Saints taking over. For the moment, it set the tone for the Saints defense.

Momentum Swing Kills

The Atlanta Falcons scored 17 unanswered points after the Saints jumped out to a 20-7 lead. There were three distinct points that results in a point shift.

The first instance occurred when Zach Strief was flagged for an illegal use of hands on the very first drive, which took New Orleans from a 2nd and 9 at the Atlanta 17-yard line to a 2nd and 19 at the Atlanta 27-yard line. Up until then, the Saints moved the ball with ease.

The second instance occurred when the Falcons had the ball in the second quarter down 13-0. On a 3rd and 15 at the Saints’ 25-yard line, Corey White was flagged for a questionable defensive pass interference. The end result was a receiving touchdown from Roddy White, who arguably got away with another push-off.

The final instance was right before halftime. After the Saints went up 20-7 and with only twenty seconds to play in the half, the Saints yielded 58 yards in two plays to set up a Matt Bryant field goal before things ended.

Terrible Tackling

How many missed tackles did we see from the Saints secondary? I lost count. It wasn’t just one player, it was everyone.

Drew’s Bad Pass

Drew Brees would have loved to have that pass back that ended in an interception in the end zone. It appeared that the ball needed to be a little more in front of Cooks, and it would have been a different outcome.

Matt Ryan Can’t Be Stopped

Let’s go back to my Keys to the Game article:

"Key #2 – Disrupt Matt RyanWe cannot let Matt Ryan have any type of extended time in the pocket. Let me also say that when we have the chance to sack him, we must bring him down. The Saints have had a good bit of success with sacking Matt Ryan in the recent games, so keeping up with this tradition should spell victory for the defense. Look for Akiem Hicks, Junior Galette, and Cam Jordan to have their name called more than a few times during the game."

I don’t know how much more clear I could have been. Matt Ryan was allowed to extend plays, and in turn, it helped the Falcons move the ball. When Devin Hester lights you up, you know you’re having a bad day.

The Colston Fumble

You know as well as I do that Marques Colston is Mr. Reliable. However, his fumble at the end was what allowed the Falcons to takeover, and eventually win the game. It’s the most frustrated that I’ve ever seen Colston, who declined interviews after the game, and also walked off the field as soon as the game was over.

"“He’s won a lot of games for us and when you get in overtime it can appear to be one play, but there are a series of plays throughout the course of the game.” -Sean Payton"

What You May Have Missed/Overlooked

  • The Saints rushing attack finished with 139 yards in the game, finishing with a 5.0 yard average per rush
  • The Saints committed only 3 penalties for 27 yards
  • Kicker Shayne Graham was perfect on both field goal tries, including the 50-yard field goal
  • Marques Colston had his third career 100-yard game against the Falcons, previously came in 2008 & 2011
  • This was the fourth time in this series that overtime was needed to settle things (1979, 2010, 2011)
  • This was the 28th time in this series that the game was decided by a touchdown or less

The Saints’ loss is most definitely a tough pill to swallow. The defense looked more like 2012’s. Matt Ryan shredded the defense, and no one in the secondary had an answer for the Falcons’ receivers. Suddenly, the Saints stare at 0-1, and have another tough road contest ahead in facing the Cleveland Browns. At the end of the day, we will get over this loss, and realize that it’s just one week of a sixteen week season.

Folks, the Saints needed this loss. It was a reality check for the team. The hype and media built this team up as a powerhouse, and picked them as favorites to win the Super Bowl. That distraction needs to fly out the window, and we have to focus on one game at a time. The defense has accepted responsibility, and the necessary corrections will be made. 

At the end of it all, we might be thanking the Falcons for setting the tone for the rest of the season.

24 hour rule my friends.

What do you think about the loss? Sound off below!