Saints vs Falcons: Winners and losers from Week 1 win

Leigh Oleszczak
New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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What. A. Win.

The New Orleans Saints entered Week 1 as pretty big favorites over the Atlanta Falcons and for most of the game, it looked like the Falcons were going to prove everyone wrong.

The Falcons led 26-10 with 12:41 remaining in the fourth quarter and it truly felt like if the Saints didn't get going right then and there that they'd be starting the season with an embarrassing loss to their most hated rival.

Instead, the Saints rallied and managed to win the game. They made it an eight-point game with 11:12 remaining in the fourth quarter and then with 3:38 to go, the offense added another touchdown but failed to convert on the two-point conversion to tie things up.

Even with that being the case, Wil Lutz connected on what was the game-winning field goal from 51 yards out and while the Falcons had a chance to kick their own game-winning field goal, it was blocked and the good guys pulled off the victory!

The win was an exciting one but I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about how bad the Saints looked until the fourth quarter. We'd see the team kind of sleep walk through games last year and then come alive in the fourth quarter and that was exactly what we saw on Sunday.

They won't be able to do that in every game this season but hey... They won the game and with a long season to go and criticize, let's take the win and be happy about it.

With all of that said, let's check out the winners and losers from the Week 1 victory.

Game stats courtesy of ESPN

Losers

Offensive Line

The worst part of the game for New Orleans was easily their offensive line. We knew it'd take some time for this unit to gel and figure things out but ooh boy were they bad in this one.

Terron Armstead's presence was greatly missed on the left side of the line as Jameis Winston was sacked a total of four times and pressured throughout the game. It was hard not to be frustrated with the group upfront considering how much of a strength this used to be for the black and gold. That was not the case on Sunday and things have to get better in this department. Not every team is going to be as bad as the Falcons in the fourth quarter so the o-line needs to protect Winston much better moving forward.

Defensive Line

After talking a big game all offseason, the Saints defensive line did not live up to the hype. Falcons offensive weapon Cordarrelle Patterson did whatever the heck he wanted against the Saints d-line, dashing for a total of 120 yards off of 22 carries. It was UGLY.

I don't expect this to be a trend for the rest of the season as the d-line has a chance to gel together and adjust but it's hard not to be disappointed and concerned with the performance we saw from the guys up front on Sunday.

Not only did they get gashed in the run game but they failed to get a single sack on Marcus Mariota. Yes Mariota is shifty but with so many talented pass-rushers on this defense, New Orleans should have gotten home at least once.

Winners

Michael Thomas

I was going to put all of the Saints receivers together but this was a big game for Thomas. The former second-round pick had not been active in a Saints game since the 2020 playoff game against the Bears but you'd never have known it when watching him ball out on Sunday.

Can't Guard Mike finished with five catches for 57 yards and two trips into the end zone. Saints fans couldn't have been happier to see the guy succeed in his first game back in quite some time.

Taysom Hill

The only spark the Saints really had in the first half of the game was when Hill bursted off a 57-yard run and then not long after had an 11-yard touchdown run to put the Saints up 7-3. While he's not a full-time quarterback, Hill is elusive when he has the football in his hands and the Saints need to continue getting him the ball whenever they can. He's a game-changer and he showed that once again on Sunday.

Jarvis Landry

In his first game with his hometown team, Landry racked up seven catches for 114 yards with a long of 40 yards. The highlight of the game for the LSU product was when he hauled in an incredible first-down catch late in the game that helped propel the comeback.

Landry is the WR2 that this team needs and he showed that he can be a fierce weapon in the first game of the season. Let's keep it going!

Pete Werner

Despite injury concerns in the preseason, Werner gave fans little to worry about when he was flying all over the field in the season opener. He led the team in tackles with 13 (12 solo) and it felt like whenever a big tackle needed to happen, Werner was there.

This was what the Saints were hoping for from Zack Baun but when that didn't pan out, they wisely spent a second-round pick on Werner and the dude's been awesome. Here's to hoping for an awesome sophomore season for the Ohio State product.

Wil Lutz

After missing his first field goal attempt since the end of the 2020 season, Lutz didn't miss when given the chance for the rest of the game. The long-time Saints kicker proceeded to knock through the next two field goal attempts, including the 51-yard game-winner. That 51-yard kick is the reason he's on the winners list, as he gave NOLA the lead despite a rough start to the game.

Good to have you back, Mr. Lutz.

Obviously, Saints fans would have preferred for this game to be a blowout favoring the good guys but hey -- A win is a win. Now this team knows that they can fall behind but still come humming back and steal a victory from an opponent.

Next. All-Time Leaders in Passing Yards. dark

1-0 in the Dennis Allen era.

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