The New Orleans Saints needed to exact some revenge on the Falcons from a 26-9 home loss two weeks ago.
And, on Thanksgiving night, the New Orleans Saints received a delicious meal of a victory, and its third straight NFC South title, punching itself into the postseason.
The tickets for the playoffs wouldn’t come easy, as most division games usually unfold, as the Saints nearly surrendered a 26-9 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta was able to recover not only one but two onside kicks, despite the new rules greatly restricting the kicking team’s chances of recovery.
Bu,t the defense held up, as defensive end Cam Jordan, who had four sacks on the evening, got to quarterback Matt Ryan to end the Falcons’ hopes of another upset. It may have been too close to call and should have been a blowout, but New Orleans left Atlanta with plenty to be thankful for.
The Saints earned one of a hopeful three banners they will want to earn this season, but the mistakes from their matchup with the Falcons can’t happen against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday, and the Saints know that no matter what occurs in their heavyweight fight this weekend, winning out the rest of the season clinches the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Against the Falcons, the Saints were not that impressive offensively, but quarterback Taysom Hill and the defense were outstanding.
Hill had a blocked punt, a 3-yard touchdown reception, and touchdown on a 30-yard run, as the jack-of-all-trades football players continue to do it all.
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The defense got after Ryan by sacking him nine times and forcing three turnovers, with undrafted rookie free agent Shy Tuttle and rookie safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson snagging two of Ryan’s throws for interceptions.
The Falcons did earn more total yards than the Saints (348-279) and won the time of possession battle (35:37-24:23), but New Orleans won the turnover battle 3-0, which can make or break teams as the season gets closer to January.
The Saints will get some much-needed rest before its battle with the 49ers in the Superdome Dec. 8, as they will have to improve on onside kick coverage, pass defense (in terms of limiting penalties and big plays) and offensive production.
Quarterback Drew Brees completed 18 of 30 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown, and the Saints only rushed for 95 yards as a team, meaning that they still need more results from their playmakers.
It will be interesting to see if the team will consider signing free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant to help the team secure some playoff position down the road.
At worst, the Saints can be the No. 4 seed, but playing outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome makes things much tougher for this team, especially without the help of tens of thousands of roaring Saints fans.
The division is locked up and put away, and now New Orleans can focus on playing for January and beyond, and it starts with practice on Airline Drive in Metairie this next week.