The Atlanta Falcons were able to go 2-7 this season after defeating the New Orleans Saints (7-2) at the Superdome, 26-9.
Out of the gate, the Falcons were the most aggressive team and it lasted all afternoon. They go beyond the saints, show more discipline and jump into many of their mistakes. Matt Ryan completed 20 of his 35 passes for 182 yards, two points and one choice in the win, while the run totaled more than 140 yards.
As for the Saints, they went without touching a goal in this competition, but Drew Brees recorded a strong statistical performance in his second match because of his thumb injury. He completed 32 passes for a total of 287 yards, but pressure was put on many of his backs, while the Falcons in the front, seven years, breathed under his neck. In the end, however, the penalties were deadly for the saints.
To learn more about the evolution of this situation, take a look at our highlights of the contest of week 10 below.
Why Falcons won
To put it simply, Atalanta limited his mistakes and played an almost perfect game. They went out the door with the clear mission of establishing the race. They totaled 57 rushing yards in their first game, which lasted until the end of the game as they accumulated 143 yards rushing. For reference, the Falcons averaged only 69 yards per game this season before Week 10.
This running success allowed Matt Ryan's offense to dominate ball possession time for most of the game, holding the ball for nearly 34 minutes against the 26th in New Orleans. They also made four orders of at least five minutes.
Defensively, Dan Quinn's team managed to put pressure on Drew Brees all afternoon, totaling six sacks and 11 hits. In their first eight games, the Falcons only managed a total of seven sacks, which was a big defeat for this unit.
Why the saints have lost
New Orleans, as a whole, played football in an undisciplined manner. As the match approached, they were one of the least penalized teams in the league, but were called to 12 penalties that totaled 90 yards in the loss.
A number of these offenses were lethal to Sean Payton's team because they directly led to the paralysis of their attack or gave points to Atlanta. In the second possession of the match in Atlanta, it seemed that the defense would prevent them from attempting another attempt on the court, but the Marshon Lattimore corner was called for a defensive defense penalty at the goal line, which allowed the Falcons to make a first run. Two games later, Matt Ryan completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper to go 10-3.
Offensively, there have been a number of false starts and other penalties have turned the third and manageable situation for New Orleans into a third and long. That's why the Saints were able to complete only three of the twelve duel opportunities they faced in this match. It was the third time of the season that the Saints stood without touching. They had only two games combined from 2006 to 18, NFL Search.
A lack of aggression was also noticeable in New Orleans in this game. With 6:05 to play in the third quarter, the Saints were facing a fourth-and-goal opportunity from Atlanta's 10-yard line. They were 13-6 at the time and chose to hit the ball instead of trying to tie the game with a touchdown. They scored the first goal, but Atlanta took control of his next possession to score a touchdown and put the game away. When you're in your building, that seemed like a situation for Sean Payton. If they failed, they could then dare the Falcons to travel the length of the field.
And it's this rather shy shout of New Orleans where we find our turn in the game. After the Saints reached the goal to give the Falcons a 13-9 advantage, Atlanta took 13 shots on goal, which led Matt Ryan to drop the ball to running back Brian Hill, who opened the score at 20-9. Not only did it provide some cushion for the Falcons, but it also progressed to 6:12 and brought them back to the fourth quarter.
From that moment on, the Saints have no chance to make a miraculous return as they tap and then throw the ball in their last four possessions.
Play the game
Michael Thomas had an absolutely incredible game to bring the Saints near the goal line in their very first offensive possession. Taysom Hill was able to get up and throw a nice pass to the back shoulder to Thomas, who turned around and was able not only to separate from his defender, but also to be seen.
This series also summed up the night for New Orleans. After Thomas's breathtaking attack, the offense has stalled. Latavius Murray ran without a win, then Brees made a short pass to Hill before being sacked for a nine-yard loss in an attempt to score. The inability to score touchdowns in this game was full screen in this sequence.
While the offense could not pay dirt, Thomas himself had quite the game. He caught 13 of his 14 targets for 152 yards. He also recorded his 401st career reception in this game, giving him the most shots in the first four seasons of a player in NFL history.
"It's really encouraging to go through all sorts of defeats, it's really difficult, for us to not be able to give up and try to make changes where we can, wherever we can, not to stop and beat a really good team in their ranks, that means a lot and that says a lot about our team. "- Grady Jarrett, Falcons forward team website.
The Falcons looked like a completely different team from the 1-7 team we had seen before the start. Jarrett was an important reason why, representing 2.5 of the team's six sacks on the day. With head coach Dan Quinn very publicly in the hot seat, it is worth noting that his team has not yet stopped. If he accumulates some extra performance as in this game, he could very well save his work.
From there, the Saints will regroup and prepare to face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, while the Falcons will try to continue their momentum in their NFC South encounter with the Panthers in Carolina.
To see how it all happened in real time, check out our live blog below.