The New Orleans Saints fell to the Atlanta Falcons 24-15 on the road in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. The loss moves the Saints into second place in the NFC South and allows the Falcons to take the division lead.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The game began with both teams trading punts on three-and-out possessions. After those, the Saints put together a 10 play, 77 yard drive. However, the drive stalled inside the 10 yard line and they settled for a 25-yard Blake Grupe field goal to make it 3-0 in favor of New Orleans.
After a fourth down stop gave the Saints the ball back, they put together another impressive offensive drive, getting into the red zone. However, Derek Carr was intercepted by Jessie Bates III and it was returned for a touchdown, giving the Falcons a 7-3 lead and shifting the momentum in favor of Atlanta.
Injuries started to mount up for the Saints, as Rasheed Shaheed tried to fight through pain but eventually left the game. The Saints were able to put together another field goal drive, cutting the lead to 7-6.
The next drive for Atlanta was their best of the first half. They marched 78 yards in 10 plays, capped by a Bijan Robinson 10 yard touchdown run. That gave Atlanta a 14-6 lead.
Another field goal drive got New Orleans to within five at 14-9. The Falcons were moving towards a scoring drive before the half, but Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Desmond Ridder to keep the score where it was heading into the half.
The Saints were able to force a punt to begin the second half, and the offense moved the ball effectively once again. As had been the issue in the first half, the drive stalled in the red zone and New Orleans settled for three, making it 14-12.
Another Mathieu interception set the Saints up with a chance to take the lead. A promising drive led them into the red zone, but this time it was a Taysom Hill fumble that cost New Orleans the opportunity to get points.
The response after the turnover was the best drive of the day for Atlanta. They marched 95 yards in just nine plays and scored a touchdown on a 26 yard pass from Ridder to Robinson to make it 21-12.
The Saints responded with another drive where they moved the ball. This may sound familiar, but the drive stalled and Grupe added three more points with a field goal to make it 21-15.
The Falcons put the game out of reach with a drive in which they ran the ball repeatedly, going 54 yards in 10 plays and making a 39-yard field goal to cap the drive and make the lead 24-15.
Grupe would miss a 54 yarder to ensure the Saints would not get a chance at an onside kick.
BIG NUMBER: 5
The Saints had to settle for field goals on all of their scoring drives. While Grupe went 5-6, the inability to score touchdowns ultimately did them in.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jessie Bates III
Bates was all over the field on Sunday. He had an interception returned for touchdown as well as a forced fumble, with both being critical in the complexion of the game.
UP NEXT: The Saints return home to the Caesars Superdome to face the NFC North leading Detroit Lions on Sunday, December 3rd at noon.