In a hard fought game to the very end, Atlanta fell just short to the Saints to take their first loss of the season. There is no shame in an 8-1 and losing to a good Saints team that is arguably the hottest in the NFL. Still, it was a bitter defeat that the Falcons very well could have won. The defense did not play a good game, allowing both Drew Brees and the running attack to pick up yards at ease. Jimmy Graham had a huge game as the Falcons simply did not have an answer for the physical tight end. Chris Ivory had a 56 yard TD run that exposed the Falcons weak tackling. It was embarrassing for the defensive pursuit, but you have to give some credit to Ivory for an incredible run.
The offense for the Falcons was great for the most part. Matt Ryan threw for a career high 411 yards in the losing effort. He did so without Julio Jones for over half the game who left with an ankle injury. Tony Gonzalez did a great job of picking up the slack, going for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns, tallying his 100th of the career along the way. The passing attack was as good as it has been all year, as it should have been. The rushing game was pathetic though. Where the Saints were able to total nearly 150 yards against the Falcons, Atlanta fell flat on their faces. Michael Turner had possibly the worst game as a pro. He managed just 15 yards on 13 carries against a bad Saints defense. Teams have shred New Orleans week in and week out all year, but Turner couldn’t even convert short yardage situations. Jacquizz Rodgers needs to be a bigger part of this offense going forward, and it is as simple as that.
The Falcons cannot become discouraged after this loss. The first loss is always a bit deflating, especially late in the season, but they can’t let it get to them. I have watched teams with undefeated records later than this fall flat in the playoffs after they loss momentum after their first loss. That is why I think it may even be better that they took it before the true playoff stretch begins. Next week is an Arizona squad that has been awful after their 4-0 start. Atlanta should rebound fairly easily and look to continue their pursuit for first place in the NFC.