The New Orleans Saints needed to win this game and get some help from the Los Angeles Rams to punch their ticket into the playoffs. New Orleans accomplished their end of the scenario with a 30-20 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Saints had to start at their own 16 yard line after Deonte Harris only returned the ball nine yards. A few plays into the drive, Alvin Kamara broke the run to the outside for 27 yards into Falcons territory. Later, the drive ended with Taysom Hill connecting with Adam Trautman for an 18 yard touchdown.
Atlanta drove down the field themselves, getting help from an early roughing the passer by David Onyemata. Matt Ryan got his offense into Saints territory with a completed pass to Russell Gage for 26 yards. The Falcons would settle for a 48 yard Younghoe Koo field goal after Onyemata and Marcus Davenport sacked Ryan on third down to make the score 7-3 with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
Hill came out firing on the Saints second drive, getting his own 26 yard completion to Lil’Jordan Humphrey. New Orleans marched down the field with hard running by Kamara, but had to settle for their first field goal attempt of the game. Brett Maher, though, missed wide left from 34 yards out with the dirty birds regaining possession.
Ryan, on third down, connected with Olamide Zaccheaus for 28 yards and a first down in Saints territory. The Falcons would kick another field goal, this time from 54 yards away to cut their deficit down to one early in the second quarter.
New Orleans didn’t miss a beat as Hill found Tre’Quan Smith in the middle of the field and brought the ball inside the Falcons 40 yard line for a pick up of 34 yards. Hill would get injured later in the drive and Trevor Siemian subbed in as Hill wouldn’t return with a foot injury . Siemian misfired on the third down pass to Smith, but Fabian Moreau was flagged for defensive pass interference and reset the down for the Saints offense. Siemian would go right back to Smith, who did his best impression of the helmet catch for the 13 yard touchdown with under six minutes left in the second quarter.
Ryan tried going to Gage on the opening play of the Falcons next drive, but rookie cornerback Paulsen Adebo made a one-handed interception to give his team the ball back. Six plays into the drive, Ty Montgomery was tackled short of the first down, but Dante Fowler Jr was whistled for roughing the passer and gave the black and gold a fresh set of downs. New Orleans would kick and make a 37 yarder after Siemian’s pass to Juwan Johnson fell incomplete.
Malcolm Jenkins created the second straight takeaway, forcing the fumble by Mike Davis that was recovered by Kwon Alexander, who fumbled later in the play, had the ball go out of bounds and the Saints once again had possession of the ball. Siemian three plays into the drive got the ball to Johnson for the five yard touchdown and extended their lead to 24-6 with two second left in the first half.
The Falcons received the ball to start the third quarter, but were forced into a three-and-out and former Saint Thomas Morstead punted it back to New Orleans. Both teams tried to go for it on fourth down on their next drive and were stopped as New Orleans quarterback sneak was stuffed for no gain and Cam Jordan batted down Ryan’s pass.
After a three-and-out punt by the black and gold, the dirty birds drove right down the field for their first touchdown of the game. Ryan went deep to tight end Hayden Hurst for 33 yards down the left sideline and two plays later, Qadree Ollison broke open the run for 19 yards and cut down the deficit to 11 with the score.
The Saints ran 13 plays and took almost seven minutes off the clock their next drive. New Orleans would get stopped short of the goal line and kick the field goal to bring their lead up to 14 with 10:55 left in the fourth quarter.
The New Orleans defense took the ball away for the third time on Atlanta’s first play of their drive as Kwon Alexander forced a fumble on Davis and the ball was recovered by Shy Tuttle.
Siemian and the Saints offense didn’t go very far and Maher kicked a 33 yard field goal to take the 30-13. After a punt by both teams, the Falcons scored a touchdown and got the two-point conversion with 20 seconds left in the game. The Saints received the kickoff and took the kneel down to defeat the dirty birds 30-20.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Alvin Kamara
Alvin Kamara didn’t find pay dirt in the game, but had 32 total touches and over 160 total yards after having 30 carries to set up most of the Saints scoring opportunities.
BIG NUMBER: 3
The Saints defense took the ball away from the Falcons three times in the game. Each of the turnovers came on the first play of Atlanta’s drive’s as New Orleans defeated the Falcons 30-20.