By Chris Vivlamore
Don’t forget about Harry Douglas.
The Falcons wide receiver has not played a significant role in the offense this season. On Sunday, it was the Saints defense that lost track of Douglas. The oversight nearly cost them the game.
Douglas, subbing for an injured Julio Jones, caught eight passes for 133 yards in the Falcons’ 26-23 overtime loss to the Saints. One reception, for 46 yards, came in the first half. The rest of the production came in the second half after Jones left with an injured right hamstring.
Douglas had three catches for 66 yards on the Falcons’ final drive of the fourth quarter that resulted in the game-tying field goal.
“Same mindset I have everyday, when I approach practice, when I approach meetings, when I approach games,” Douglas said. “My mindset doesn’t change. I just know I’m going to have to make more plays, that’s all. I practice throughout the week at all [wide receiver] positions. I run routes at all positions. If one person goes down, I know I have to step up.”
The Falcons trailed by three points with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter and took over on their own 6-yard line. Quarterback Matt Ryan found Douglas for 23-yard gains on the first two plays of the drive. He would catch another for 20 yards that moved the Falcons into Saints territory and set up the game-tying field goal to force overtime.
Douglas said the Saints simply failed to cover him during the two-minute offense.
“That’s something we always preach and one thing that we’ve done in the past is step it up in two-minute situations and go down and score,” Douglas said. “We did it. I think they busted a couple of coverages a couple of times that allowed me to get open down the middle. Me and Matt were on the same page and he hit me.”
Douglas said the Saints linebackers were on the wrong side and pushed their coverage away from him. Linebacker Scott Shanle said at least one of the completions to Douglas in the final quarter was a blown coverage.
“Harry made some great catches on that last drive, that 94 yards where we kicked the field goal to tie the game,” coach Mike Smith said. “He made some big plays in that drive.”
In the eight previous games, Douglas had a total of 17 catches for 199 yards. He nearly doubled his season-long production Sunday. Douglas joined Roddy White and Jones as the third Falcon receiver with a 100-yard game this season.
Ryan finished with 351 yards passing, with 38 percent of his yardage going to Douglas. Ryan completed passes to nine different receivers.
Douglas said his performance was gratifying but noted, “Winning the game is more important than individual things. If we would have won the game, it would have been even greater.”