5 things we learned from the Saints game

This is not the goal post that Jason Elam missed twice. That one was at the other end of the Superdome. (D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER/AJC)

This is not the goal post that Jason Elam missed twice. That one was at the other end of the Superdome. (D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER/AJC)

LUCYS RETIRED SURFER’S BAR – Lucy’s is the best bar in America.

Lucy's, a safe haven for retired surfers and sports writers.

Lucy's, a safe haven for retired surfers and sports writers.

Only the Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis is on par.

After the game –- because newspaper folks don’t charter out with the team like some of our TV/sponsor friends –- that’s where I retreated.

I did see Jeremy Shockey drop his Cadillac at the hotel and ask how much valet was for the night ($50). He hopped into the back seat of a cop car and rode off to his little celebration. I’m thinking the cop was his body guard for the night.

But here are the five things I came up with at Lucy’s  with the benefit of watching the ESPN replays while B52s and Rock Lobster were blaring in the background.

1. Vilma’s tip: If Jonathan Vilma doesn’t tip that pass, the Falcons win. Tony Gonzalez was open and set to gather in the go ahead touchdown pass. The Falcons would have gone ahead 31-28 with 8:30 to play. But the tipped ball ended up in the hands of Tracy Porter for an interception.

Will Smith (not that Will Smith) spent too much time in the Falcons backfield. (CHUCK COOK/THE TIMES-PICAYUNE)

Will Smith (not that Will Smith) spent too much time in the Falcons backfield. (CHUCK COOK/THE TIMES-PICAYUNE)

2. Vilma’s  pass interference wasn’t call: The Falcons would not have been down 28-14 at halftime if the officials would have called pass interference on Vilma for hitting Roddy White, way more than 5 yards down the field. Vilma’s hit was blatant. The one the called later on Mike Peterson was a “touch” foul. With White off track for his route, Jabari Greer stepped in and intercepted the pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown.

3. Who’s the left cornerback?: Tye Hill started at left cornerback, but gave way to Brent Grimes after suffering a really bad case of cramps. Hill was solid, but gave up a touchdown pass to Marques Colston. Grimes came in and had that awesome interception. Do we have a cornerback controversy? It is the position that was manned by DeAngelo Hall, who’ll be visiting the Georgia Dome with the Washington Redskins this week.

4. DB Jamaal “Cover Corner” Anderson: Why exactly was Jamaal Anderson is pass coverage – oh about 20 yards down field with my hotel mate Shockey? Who drew up that scheme?

5. Wire is a ball hawk: Coy Wire came up with two fumble recoveries, including the onsides kick. He also ripped the ball away from Pierre Thomas to help keep the Falcons’ hope alive.

Just a couple of other things: Lenny Kravitz was in the house. Are we going to see Matt Ryan in the pre-game hype huddle getting the team fired up like Drew Brees does with the Saints? If the QB is out there getting pumped like that, what’s the backup defensive tackle going to do?

Pierre Thomas flips into the endzone on the Falcons.  (MATT BUSH/HATTIESBURG AMERICAN)

Pierre Thomas flips into the endzone on the Falcons. (MATT BUSH/HATTIESBURG AMERICAN)

(Made my 6 a.m. flight along with Mark Bradley, radio personality Elle Duncan and retired left tackle Todd Weiner).

184 comments Add your comment

TMoney

November 3rd, 2009
9:46 am

Overall, I’m impressed with the Falcons performance. The game was closer than I expected, and a couple of calls by the refs may have cost them a win. Of course, Roddy White did give a little push on his long TD, but that more often than not is not called in the NFL.

It was Vilma’s pass interference that blew my mind. I saw it live and was thinking “Well, at least this won’t count.” I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a flag. Overall, though, I’m still impressed with the Falcons. Looking at there schedule, I see every game as winnable if we show this kind of emotion and will. But let’s take this one at a time, we’ve got an incoming Redskins team that’s had a week off to prepare for the Falcons. I never thought we’d have a must win game in week 8, but that’s what this is.

mike

November 3rd, 2009
9:48 am

any luck with elle duncan on the plane ride?.. she is a looker!

Falconsforlife

November 3rd, 2009
9:48 am

Just hope we don’t play like crap against the awful Skins because of how emotinally draining this game was. I still have a sick feeling in my stomach.

Sekou Smith

November 3rd, 2009
9:48 am

Don’t know Todd Weiner but the rest of that traveling party I can roll with.

Southside Falcon

November 3rd, 2009
9:55 am

Im with you Tmoney. Impressive very, everybody had them getting staright up torched, and the held there own. But that non call on Vilma has me Fuming plus alot of the time they were off sides no call but i kinda expected that to go that way WE WILL GET OUR REVENGE

IceFan

November 3rd, 2009
9:57 am

I really hope the majority of you realize how well we played, and that if a couple of breaks go our way we win this game.

This was a great effort (minus Elam) and it will help us for the rest of the year. We are a good team that got beat by a great team. Deal with it and watch as we get into the playoffs at 10-6.

I MUS WRITE

November 3rd, 2009
10:03 am

Mike- Elle dates Michael Turner, Bow tie doesnt have a chance-for that matter neither do i,but you’re right she definitely is a looker.

no trophy’s for moral victories but we played well and didnt get blown out like many thought

Jimmyjam

November 3rd, 2009
10:04 am

I’m proud of my Falcons. They were competitive and will continue to be so in the future. The Falcon Nation has nothing but brighter days ahead.

freddie_falcon

November 3rd, 2009
10:07 am

It was a great game and the falcons sghowed they could play with the best I will be in the GA dome sunday and we will win. One thing all the falcons have to do is make the playoffs and anything can happen!

Keith

November 3rd, 2009
10:22 am

I said that if we played perfectly, then we would have a chance to win. I guess the consolation is that if we don’t have the 2 INTs, then we WOULD have definitely won. Proves that we can hang with the best team in the NFL if we are prepared. Hopefully, they get pissed off vs the Redskins as we welcome them back to the friendly GA Dome.

Keith

November 3rd, 2009
10:23 am

Even ONE of the missed FGs and ONE of the INTs would have probably won it for us. Sad thing is, it should have been the Saints trying for a last-second hail mary/TD.

Antonio Gramsci

November 3rd, 2009
10:32 am

It’s a morning like this that I hate living in NOLA. I’m just glad the Falcons covered the spread so all those “WhoDopes” lost their drinking money for the week. I hope this game taught Atlanta just what effort is required on every play if they want to be where they were last season. If they had shown up like this against Dallas, the division would still be in play.

Battfist

November 3rd, 2009
10:32 am

Lets be real. Matt Ryan should of never threw the ball to White. Whether Vilma touched him or not…Greer read the play all the way, that pass was getting picked.

White did push off on his TD pass too….non-call.

Stop whinning about the calls.
The better team won.

renee'

November 3rd, 2009
10:38 am

what about the offensive pass interference on roddy white. he clearly pushed off. pierre thomas fumbled and recovered ..then the refs blow the whistle after they strip ball. we missed a field foal as well. Saints still win..falcons lose!! who dat!

atldeadhead

November 3rd, 2009
10:39 am

It was a great game and proved that the Falcons have a great team. I know it’s only gonna get better. Congrats to Turner having a big night. Man, oh, man. If only that pass to Gonzalez isn’t tipped and Elam makes those FG’s. We could’ve won that game!

Way to Go Falcons!

Falconsforlife

November 3rd, 2009
10:41 am

Yeah Battfist, whether it should have been a penalty or not is irrelevant. Matt made a poor decision. He definitely has been slumping the last few weeks, but it was bound to happen eventually. It’s how he rebounds is what counts. Like Smitty said in the post game presser this team will be judged by the total 16 games, not a 3 game stretch.

Let’s hope they boys watch the tape, move on, and focus on yet ANOTHER team coming off of their bye this week. What a joke schedule we got shafted with this year.

renee'

November 3rd, 2009
10:46 am

how ar ya’ll saying the falcons could have won? it still had 8 min. left in the game. what if our kicker would have made his FG, what if pierre thomas didn’t get us a penalty for celebrating,what if the refs had called pass interference on roddy? it all doesn’t matter..cuz the Saints still win!!!!

K26dp

November 3rd, 2009
10:47 am

Re: Anderson covering Shockley. I believe there was a safety blitz called. I suspect Anderson saw Shockley break off and attempted to cover, which is what he’s supposed to do, since the safety is blitzing. Unfortunately the heat didn’t get to Brees, and Shockley made Anderson (and Van Gorder) look bad.

[...] SOURCE: ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION [...]

FORMER FALCONS FAN!!!

November 3rd, 2009
10:56 am

let’s keep it real!!! matty ice melted!!!
he can throw the ball accurately within 30 yards, but he doesn’t have the arm strenght to throw the ball deep. defensive pressure is really beginning to bother him, his timing and his poise. YOU CAN SUGARCOAT IT ALL YOU WANT!!! But if roddy doesn’t make a play / push off on the 68 yard pass the falcons would have lost that game by more points. This Guy is ok! but compared to drew breeze!!! man get real!!! time will show everything!!!!

FORMER FALCONS FAN!!!

November 3rd, 2009
11:01 am

by the way!!! THE FALCONS WILL FINISH 7-9 MARK MY WORD!!!

KJB

November 3rd, 2009
11:04 am

Saints fan here…
There were blown calls on both sides of the ball…terrible refs. How many refs does it take to know the correct time on the play clock? As bad as the missed call on Vilma was, White’s was just as bad. I’ve give you that phantom holding on Reggie (sorry don’t know who was the defender that got pegged for it…but it wasn’t holding) Again missed calls all around that I think evened out in the end.

If teams don’t turn the ball over like both teams did last night, bad refs don’t matter.

Props to the Falcons…great game and I can see this rivalry really going strong for years to come. Don’t slag on Ryan, he played great. Our D has just been unreal this year. But I look forward to many more games like that (endings the same too please!). You all have a great young QB and new coach…similar to where we were a couple of years ago. The rivalry could really get fun again…and last night was fun. We’ll see you guys at least once more this year…maybe 2 times depending on how the playoffs go. I’d be shocked if the Falcons aren’t a wildcard…sorry, the NFC South is ours!

FORMER FALCONS FAN!!!

November 3rd, 2009
11:06 am

****REALITY CHECK**** THE SHIP IS GOING DOWN AND THE ICE IS MELTING!!! JUMP OFF WHILE YOU CAN****

SWAT Native

November 3rd, 2009
11:10 am

Unfortunately, the Falcons probably lost the division last night, but they showed that they can play with the Saints in their building. We’ll see them in the Georgia Dome, and we may get to try them again in their building in the playoffs. The Falcons will be even tougher down the road, and it may turn out that the Saints peaked too soon.

JeanE

November 3rd, 2009
11:16 am

Everyone seems to be jumping all over Matt Ryan on the other blog: let’s take a breath people! And I’m hoping the reason Elam missed the should’ve been automatic inside the 50 is b/c he’s still nursing a hamstring? If that is so, why not allow Koenen to kick the field goals? Ryan does need to toughen up and not get happy feet so early but that will come, I hope! I’m proud of this team and the resiliency we showed! That interception by Grimes was amazing! What a vertical leap! If only he had a few more inches to go with that heart! My complaints are this: 1) why is Curtis Lofton playing special teams? 2) Where was the no huddle? 3) Why can’t we spread the ball around the the receivers? Finn, bless his hard working, awesome blocking heart, can actually CATCH the ball, remember Mularkey? 4) Jamaal Anderson should never be in pass coverage, BVG! That’s about it, it was a close game. Too many mistakes on our side and we lost to what is probably 1 of the best teams in football so no shame. We can and will win next week, Go Birds!!!

Rdhdkid

November 3rd, 2009
11:16 am

We learned that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while! Kudos to Grimes on his interception and a couple of good tackles. Don’t know if Houston has a nickname or not, but “Flounder” seems to fit nicely.

Rdhdkid

November 3rd, 2009
11:20 am

Hey KJB – I was thinking as I was watching the blown calls that this had to be a nightmare game for the officials. Since they *seem* to work so hard to make calls against both these teams on a regular basis when playing others, what’s a guy to do when they play each other?

Old Bird Fan

November 3rd, 2009
11:22 am

I was generally proud of the Falcons for their effort – it was close. I just want to know whether the call has already been made to Mort today.

Zoomie

November 3rd, 2009
11:22 am

J. Anderson telegraphed that he was dropping into coverage on Shockley. Of course, Brees knew where he was throwing that ball before it was snapped. Not a smart defensive call on Atlanta’s part.

I didn’t see the illegal contact on Roddy White on the interception. If White was knocked off his route, then he gets a pass. What I saw was Roddy White dropping behind the zone coverage before hooking his route instead of hooking in front of the coverage. I don’t blame Ryan for that interception; he expected, and should’ve expected, White to hook up in front of the coverage.

The Interception in the red zone was simply stellar play by Vilma (much like Grimes’ interception — just a great leap, timing, and extension). I don’t blame Ryan for that one, either.

For the Falcons to go into New Orleans and stay in the game, have a few officiating decisions mean the difference between a loss and a possible win is a positive for the Falcons. Atlanta gets another crack at NO at home; should be another great game.

The Falcons finally brought a great running attack. Every time they do, they will be in contention.

All in all, the Flacons played well. No real complaints.

Roddy TD

November 3rd, 2009
11:23 am

The Roddy White touchdown was pass interference…defensive. The DB looked back for the ball and intentionally slowed and changed direction in an attempt to get in the way because they don’t call defensive interference if you look for the ball. Its a terrible rule because players can do exactly what the Saints’ DB did. He should have been flagged. Luckily it didn’t matter, but it definitely was not interference on White. He was looking for the ball and continued running his route. Watch the play again and you’ll see.

SaintsFanK3

November 3rd, 2009
11:24 am

Battfist had it right. The bad calls went both ways. Take your loss and deal with it. The Saints are unstoppable.

Spud Webb

November 3rd, 2009
11:25 am

tough to take a blogger seriously when he spells drew brees, drew breeze. ahhahahahahahhahahahha

KJB

November 3rd, 2009
11:32 am

White had both hands under Harper at one point and then pushed him off…Offensive PI.

Again, calls were terrible both ways and I was giving a lot of props to the Falcons. The holding on Will Smith most of the night was called all of 2 times and he was tackled on one play when it wasn’t called.

And on the ATL touchdown in the back of the endzone that was overturned via replay (White I think it was?)…the ref was right there in front of the play looking dead on at it and didn’t see the ball hit the ground? How was that possible? He was closer to the play than the camera!

tboneforever

November 3rd, 2009
11:32 am

Wow. Didn’t know that Matt Ryan was noodle armed. He lost some stock last night.

WHO DAT!!

Nut

November 3rd, 2009
11:35 am

Enter your comments here

adam

November 3rd, 2009
11:36 am

Former Falcons Fan!!!!!
“This Guy is ok! but compared to drew breeze!!! man get real!!! time will show everything!!!!”

Drew Brees’ 2nd and 3rd year stats– please keep in mind this was with LT in the backfield at a time when he was All-Pro

2002 San Diego Chargers passer rating 76.9 with 17 TDs and 16 Ints and a completion percentage of 60.8%

2003 San Diego Chargers passer rating 67.5 with 11 TDs and 15 Ints and a completion percentage of 57.6%

midnite

November 3rd, 2009
11:37 am

thank for the positive piece DOL

cnell28

November 3rd, 2009
11:38 am

I have questions that only the coaches can answer. I seen to many times during the game where matt ryan had nobody to pass to. Why is that? answer: we were only running 2 receivers in routes a lot of times deep against 4-5 Db’s. Micheal Jenkins is not the answer at the #2 Wr. Play calling is very suspect and how we use our personnel and certain situations. example: Jamal Anderson aka. Ludacris gaurding shockey. Why do we not use what works best for us more often. We blitz then we don’t blitz. One of our best weapons on offense is our no huddle. We haven’t ran that in 2 games. Hopefully Micheal Turner can keep up his desire to be one of the best RB in the league instead of tip toeing to the line and not running over people like he can. Matt Ryan gets real jumpy and panics when pressure gets close to him. he needs to relax in the pocket. The biggest thing on Offense that we need to do a lot more is THROW THE BALL DEEP. STRETCH THE DEFENSE OUT SO THEIR SAFETIES CAN NOT MAKE PLAYS ON THE RUN GAME. Overall I was pleased with the effort. Ref’s did not call a lot of calls last night that should have been called (holdings, Pass inter)

NoleRick

November 3rd, 2009
11:47 am

The better team won last night. Cudoes to the Saints.
The Saints first loss of the season comes in the Ga. Dome. Bank on it!

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

November 3rd, 2009
11:51 am

OK!!! Lets start this up. First…let me say that I’m really PROUD of the BIRDS. Think about it…the Giants went down there and got canned…the Jets went down there and got pillaged. We go down there and pretty much outplay the SAINTS. We should have won the damn game had it not been for a couple of plays that just did not go our way…a couple of additional points to consider:

1) Let me be the FIRST to CONGRATULATE BRENT GRIMES on a fine performance. The guy came to play…and I think he took being benched personally. He tackled well last night…had the freakish PICK that was ON time, and made several plays on the ball that were impressive. In my opinion, still not a deep third CB, but certainly a NFL caliber DB. Line him up INSIDE the hashes and let him roam…

2) The Burner needed the defensive scheme change…i.e. he was glad to hit the SuperDome. He looked good last night…he got his carries, got going and looked like himself. And remember folks, there was no Norwood or Snelling last night.

3) Ryan was REALLY off the mark. Plus, he seemed to zero in on receivers, particularly Tony G. I realize that the pressure will make any QB sputter, but he seemed to be off all night. Plus, he seemed to hold the ball too long, took needless sacks, and just did not have any escapability to prolong a play. Needs to move around in the pocket more. His last heave was absolutely HORRIBLE. Put some air under the ball to give #84 a chance…what was he thinking?

4) #12 Jenkins had a really poor night…he has got to get better, or we will need to look at other options at the 2nd receiver spot. Big drop on third down in the red zone…and he just does not fight for balls like he should. I know we miss Harry Douglas, but I expect more out of Jenkins the veteran.

5) Lofton, Peterson and Nicholas are MEN. Period. Add Wire to that list as well. Add DeCoud to that list. Add Coleman to that list. #98 Anderson played well, and the rookie Walker provided a spark…in sum, the defense came to play. I would still like to see #23 spend some time watching but hey, he gave up only ONE big play this week….and #22 Chevis??? C’mon, wrap up and force the field goal. I even liked what #24 Hill did…although I can see why he stays injured: he ducks his head on tackles.

All in all…the Birds gave major EFFORT, and that gives me reason for sustained hope and optimism…specifically in Smitty’s ability to motivate the troops. Redskins come calling…and they should have a hard time with Turner. Play-action pass should be there. I’ll really be looking at Ryan to see what is going on. Plant your feet, look safeties off and bounce back strong in the Dome.

FBD

Decatur Native

November 3rd, 2009
12:00 pm

Great Job Falcon’s you played as good as you could have and REGARDLESS what the people on this blog says you have a great YOUNG team that has yet to reach it’s stride, wait till the Birds fill those few holes we still have,

Elton

November 3rd, 2009
12:03 pm

Look i understand hurt and wanting your team to win and all, but it reading some of your comments about blown calls and excuses that are being made for the Falcons loss? paint this picture in your head remember the W.Smith hitting M.Ryan arm and the ball skidding out and replay to see if it was tuck rule or whatever? well what does it take to get a holding call in the NFL, does the fact your LT is on the back of Will Smith holding both his arms so he can’t extend to sack M.Ryan get a little yellow flag? that crap was going on all night long and only called once, he was holding W.Smith damn near every play.

MAD-DONNA

November 3rd, 2009
12:06 pm

Whatever, you hopeless Falcon fans! Looks like Tony G. will miss the playoffs again!

bgf

November 3rd, 2009
12:08 pm

Falcons never played scared !! They never gave up ! Had some BAD calls!att is in his 2nd season , Brees has more under his belt , wait ! Matt played just a great as the Vet!, Great running game ! poor kicker! needs work or another kicker!. But all in all the fALCON MADE THEM work !! we WILL meet AND WIN !!AND WITHOUT BAD CALLS!!!!!

Dorothy Bickham

November 3rd, 2009
12:08 pm

I understand Atlanta needed the win but what did you expect the Saints to do, give the game away. Yes the Saints are a very good team this year and Atlanta needs to move on, they lost, so get over it. As far as Antonio Gramsci’s comments about the WhoDopes in New Orleans losing their drinking money on the point spread, all my friends who are Saints fans work, none are on Dope and can afford to buy drinks any day of the week. Let’s not get nasty, it’s only a game, and one that we the WhoDopes won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chris

November 3rd, 2009
12:13 pm

What’s up with Abraham?

Why does Ryan run forward into the line when he gets pressure, instead of rolling out and buying time?

Mughelli’s return made the difference in the running game. Turner needs to buy him a car or something.

myran

November 3rd, 2009
12:24 pm

Trust me, guy. You were never a fan. Just a fake.

Rdhdkid

November 3rd, 2009
12:29 pm

myran said: Trust me, guy. You were never a fan. Just a fake.

You just might get the reaction you seek if you’d make it clear who you’re referring to.

Kevin

November 3rd, 2009
12:30 pm

Saints fan here. First of all, I think you guys are on the right track. Great coach, great young QB; it’s going to be fun to watch Saints-Falcons for years to come.

Let’s talk about those blown calls. I hated to see that borderline defensive holding called. But Brees’ fumble in the first quarter was caused on a very obvious helmet-to-helmet hit. Was it intentional? Doubtful. But that doesn’t matter. NFL refs have been very consistent about that call all season, so why they missed it in that situation is beyond me. Should have been 15 yard personal foul penalty, Saints ball. Then there was Mike Bells’s “fumble” after his forward progress had obviously been stopped. You guys should know better than to complain about those borderline officiating calls. They go both ways in almost every game and they did again last night.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

November 3rd, 2009
12:36 pm

Coach Smith is speaking at 3 p.m. today. Send along questions. I’ll try to get them in.

Hey there Sekou: Todd Weiner is the retired left tackle. He might have done a better job on Will “Get Jiggy With it” Smith.