The powerful Falcons, Brees’ INTs and the Saints’ botch

The Falcons react as the first half runs out on the Saints. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Falcons' sideline reacts as the first half runs out on the Saints. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

This post is an adjunct to the Falcons-Saints game column, which can be found here.

1. The Falcons set out to prove a point. After losing in the Superdome 17 days earlier, coach Mike Smith noted that his time wasn’t winning the line of scrimmage. The Falcons rushed for 46 yards that day. They rushed for 71 yards on Thursday night’s opening drive, which culminated in a Michael Turner touchdown. On the drive, they deployed guard Mike Johnson as a tight end for more oomph.  Said Smith: “The game of football is about the line of scrimmage. I thought we did a nice job of getting our running backs to second level, which is how you have 100 yards rushing in a half.”

2. This secondary keeps losing men but making plays. Cornerback Brent Grimes was lost after the opening game, and Asante Samuel left this game early after re-injuring the shoulder he seems to tweak every week. But subs like Christopher Owens and Robert McClain held up their end, and safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud combined for three of the Falcons’ five interceptions. “That’s a testament to the depth we have in the secondary,” DeCoud said, and when you hold Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense to one touchdown … well, you’ve done something right.

3. The Saints lost this game at the end of the first half. Seeking to save time, the Saints called their final timeout with 2:24 remaining and the Falcons about to punt. They had first-and-goal from the 7 with 51 seconds left, and Darren Sproles’ touchdown appeared to have brought New Orleans within 17-13. But Jimmy Graham was called for offensive interference and the TD was overridden and the Saints butchered the rest of the half. Two more Brees passes to Sproles were stopped in the middle of the field, and time expired with the Falcons still ahead 17-7, prompting Mike Smith to throw up his arms in exultation. “We were kind of reeling,” he would say later.

By Mark Bradley

85 comments Add your comment

[...] Further reading: The powerful Falcons, Brees’ INTS and the Saints’ botch. [...]

GT Newnan

November 30th, 2012
10:38 am

I think this is the “in your dreams team” -they just might win it all.

Mark Bradley

November 30th, 2012
10:44 am

They just might, GT Newnan.

Marcus

November 30th, 2012
10:48 am

Good game. We have to learn to step on the throat when we have the chance. Flipside is that we are playing hard in tight games and pulling them out more often than not. It was almost de ja vu when we settled for a FG on ‘Spoon’s INT (e.g. scoring min. pts. vs. DEN after 3 1Q INTs).

The Mighty Quinn

November 30th, 2012
10:48 am

3 wins in 11 days, the last two against division rivals who had more to lose (fighting for their playoff lives) than the Falcons had to gain. And we’ll still be the only 11-1 team in NFL history to get no respect. Fine. Don’t respect us all the way to the Lombardi Trophy!

shawny

November 30th, 2012
10:50 am

When Ovie was here, Turner piled up the yards.
When we cut him and let Turner go to the hole alone, he can’t do anything.
Last night, we put in a fullback in the first quarter to be the first one through and Turner ran well again.

Anyone at Flowery Branch listening??? hello, McFly? Bueller?

Marcus

November 30th, 2012
10:50 am

MB,
Win or lose, how much stock should we put on the result of the upcoming (late-season) game vs. NYG?

Could be a playoff preview, but the other side is maybe we don’t want to tip our hand on too much on strategy, etc.

Big Enos Burdette

November 30th, 2012
10:52 am

QB’s aren’t much good when the pass rush comes up the middle and Ryan is no exception. The Falcon’s can’t stop that kind of pressure and the defense can’t produce it. I’m a Falcon fan but this concerns me.

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
10:53 am

Mark, you might say that Brees cooked his own goose.

GTT

November 30th, 2012
10:53 am

tom

November 30th, 2012
10:57 am

I am grateful for the win. Worried about the playoffs. Take away the interceptions and the defense could not stop the run or pass but a few times. Offense gave up on the run after the first touchdown. Turner can make those runs with the blocking he had. Go figure. Ryan threw a handful of bad passes to his receivers. So happy to spoil the playoff hopes of the Saints. March on and fix the problems. Congrats to all. ps- too bad Bierman has been on the bench during the Edwards experiment. He is rockin!

Big Enos Burdette

November 30th, 2012
10:57 am

Marcus,
The game against NYG is going to be a look at the playoffs. The Giants can bring steady pressure against the QB and Ryan will struggle (all QB’s struggle with constant pressure). He looks very average when teams push up the middle and the o-line hasn’t shown the ability to stop it

phantom9277

November 30th, 2012
10:58 am

I am a diehard Saint’s fan, but must give congrats to the Falcons. I hate them especially Roddy White, but am glad for Matt Ryan (excellent QB) and Mike Smith (excellent coach, good person). After the Mike Vick and Petrino debacles, the Falcons couldn’t have been lower. Hats off to good decision making in hiring Smith and drafting Ryan. All in all, this season has been a disaster for us since March and can’t be over soon enough. Geaux Saints!

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
10:58 am

listening to the Falcons win last night was an eggistential experience.

blazerdawg

November 30th, 2012
10:58 am

Awesome night. Loved the way the Falcons went with the run early.

GG Saints Fans – your defense gave a heck of an effort.

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
10:59 am

eggsistential i should say

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:00 am

Mark, you could even say the Falcons “poached” Brees’ passes. heh, heh

After further review

November 30th, 2012
11:02 am

I must admit I was pretty disgusted ofter the fifth straigh three and out, late in the third quarter, especially afer the good start. I’m glad they won the game, and look forward to them continuing to win deep into the playoffs.

After further review

November 30th, 2012
11:04 am

Sorry, meant after

Hankie Aron

November 30th, 2012
11:05 am

Well it certainly left the Falcons feeling “sunny side up” and the Saints “scrambled”

GTT

November 30th, 2012
11:05 am

It helps when Turner doesn’t lie down the second someone lays a finger on him.

Hankie Aron

November 30th, 2012
11:05 am

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:06 am

AFR, i bet you werent as disgusted as Falcons’ defense was.

Mask of False Bravado

November 30th, 2012
11:09 am

If only Dwight “Yolkum” was there to sing the anthem.

Mask of False Bravado

November 30th, 2012
11:11 am

I remember similar clock management in CMR’s first year against Auburn, I think.

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:11 am

i suspect that Saints fans consider last night to be an eggregious loss.

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:13 am

Wes Durham did a great job on play by play last night, but David Archer can be eggravating at times.

Flo- Ri- Duh

November 30th, 2012
11:14 am

Nothing new – Falcon’s “D” and special teams are winning games – the “O” line needs an upgrade.

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

November 30th, 2012
11:34 am

Is that Alec Baldwin in the white shirt with the upraised arm?

Georgia

November 30th, 2012
11:35 am

I still don’t understand Mike Smith football. A bend don’t break defense and overindulged offensive coaches. Entertained here.

BamaGuy

November 30th, 2012
11:38 am

Is Samuel lifting up his hurt arm? Give it a rest little fella….Seriously, Great win and now we can can get healthy and work on some things as we get ready for the playoffs….

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:38 am

Georgia, some might take eggception to your comment. The best eggzample to measure Smitty’s success is his W-L record.

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

November 30th, 2012
11:39 am

Hey Alec! What’s in your wallet?

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:40 am

this season is absolute Heaven compaired to what Falcons’ fans have eggsperienced in the past.

todd grantham

November 30th, 2012
11:45 am

new handle for Falcons’ receiver: Roddy Egg White

DawgDad

November 30th, 2012
11:45 am

“The Saints lost this game at the end of the first half”

Disagree. The opening drive was at least as important as it set an early tone. The early stops drove NO into a catch-up mode. The interceptions – especially the late drive-killers, were critical. The 55-yard field goal. Etc.

Your line of thinking leads to the media’s treatment of the Falcons as an 11-1 team with little respect. I had to turn off the Dan Patrick radiio program today because it was all about how NO lost the game. Fact is, when you break the game down to fundamentals the Falcons do almost everything well or very well and execute and are one of the most consistent teams in the NFL, if not the most consistent. The Falcons are the sum of many, many solid parts. What they lack in flash they more than make up for in attention to detail.

BravesFan79

November 30th, 2012
12:00 pm

Falcons all the way! This team has the right blend of talent i believe to win the SB.

SeenDrewThrow5PicksB4

November 30th, 2012
12:04 pm

IN YOUR FACE!!! BLEAUX DAT!!!

Taxi Smith

November 30th, 2012
12:11 pm

Screw ‘Dat!

ItsMe

November 30th, 2012
12:24 pm

It’s ok aints fans…we too know what it’s like to give a QB a 100mill and get eggs on our face. You’ll be alright…you freak’n jerks! Where’s hiramsaint at…SeenThisB4, where are you? TEEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE

Brian N Smyrna

November 30th, 2012
12:24 pm

After watching that game it was hard for me to be excited. From an offensive standpoint I felt that Mike Mularky was back calling the plays. Just like during his tenure, we start off well and once the other team makes adjustments we have no answer. After the 1st quarter we had no offensive identity. Why did we all of a sudden decide to rely on Jason Snelling in 3rd down situations when Rodgers has been lights out? The defense still fails to produce pressure with it’s front four and even when they blitz it gets picked up most of the time. 1 3rd down conversion on offense is sad and we gave up over 6 on defense. The only bright spots were Owens and McClain. A win is a win, but that was tough to watch.

Unfortunately...

November 30th, 2012
12:30 pm

…”CHOKE” has been showing up the past 11 days as #2 for the ‘Birds…

I AM THIRD

November 30th, 2012
12:30 pm

Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter take this team to the next level. I am tired of the media consistently saying that this team is the same team that lost in the first round of the playoffs. It is not the same team. Mularkey and Van Gorder were good for a young, rebuilding team. Their gameplans were simple and solid, but too predictable for experienced football teams and hot quaterbacks in particular. Nolan has been simply sensational. How many other defenses have racked up 5 interceptions against both Peyton Manning and Drew Breeze? This Defense is dynamic and makes adjustments and attacks. Robert McClain has been dynamite and I no longer cringe at the thoughts of Aaron Rogers exploiting the Nickleback position.

Unfortunately...

November 30th, 2012
12:31 pm

…my comments are being “moderated”…

jj

November 30th, 2012
12:35 pm

Yes the Falcons are darn lucky. However, luck is almost always a factor in a championship.

Clay

November 30th, 2012
12:48 pm

I wonder why the Saints didn’t run Chris Ivory more? As a Falcons fan I’m glad they didn’t but in the first game he shredded our defense.

Big Crimson 75

November 30th, 2012
12:59 pm

Falcon Fans, it’s time to forgive Chris Owens for the GB playoff game!
The guy hustles more than any Falcon(watch him on special teams) & he’s improved considerably in the secondary.
The Secondary balled all night.
Moore, Dunta, DeCoud, McClain & Owens all had great games.

retired

November 30th, 2012
1:01 pm

Lucky is a result more often than not of good preparation…….

D man

November 30th, 2012
1:03 pm

We DAT, great game Falcons…

Bill

November 30th, 2012
1:15 pm

If they’re going to drown, put a hose in their mouth.