A late field goal by kicker Matt Bryant in overtime was all the Falcons needed to slide past the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The final score was 37-34, though it does not reflect the majority of the game, more of a tale of two halves. In fact, the Saints went in to the locker rule with a steady 20-10 lead, looking like their normal selves both offensively and defensively. However, things took a turn for the worst in the third quarter, after the Saints were held scoreless while the Falcons wracked up a pair of touchdowns.
The offense was able to partially recover, while the defense was not, thereby sending the game to overtime. A fumble by receiver Marques Colston gave the Falcons great field position to finish off the game with yet again another field goal. To Saints fans and analysts alike, this game came as a major shocker.
The Saints defense, which had experienced a remarkable turn-around last season following their awful record-setting 7,042 allowed yards in 2012, ended up surrendering 568 yards to the Falcons on Sunday, 392 of those in the final 30:20 in regulation. Last years number four ranked overall defense began to look like that 2012 squad again, and they paid dearly for it.
An almost non-existent pass rush and lots of missed tackles probably hurt them the most, but questionable scheming by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and poor corner back play by Patrick Robinson hit the nail in the coffin. The offense on the other hand, played as expected, with both running back Mark Ingram and rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks turning in great performances.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to balance out the teams defensive woes. The Falcons offense definitely deserves credit on their second half triumph, especially quarterback Matt Ryan, who finished the day with a stellar 448 yards passing and three touchdown passes to help lift his team to their first victory since December 15.
Hopefully the loss serves as a major wakeup call for the Saints, and they can get things together before next weeks game at Cleveland.