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