The Atlanta Falcons are no longer unbeaten, as the New Orleans Saints handed them their first loss on Sunday; but hey, Atlanta fans will take 15-1!
This high-scoring throw down wasn’t a pretty loss for the Falcons, nor was it necessarily a well-deserved win for the Saints. It looked like Atlanta was going to make an exciting, come from behind win, as Matt Ryan chucked a 9-yard pass to Harry Douglas to set the Falcons up with a second-and-goal at the one yard line, but the Falcons couldn’t find the end zone on their next three attempts—missing Tony Gonzalez, stuffing Michael Turner, and breaking up a last-ditch fourth down effort to Roddy White.
To watch the Falcons come so close but unable to pick up just two yards was disheartening to say the least. Almost as disheartening as watching Saints running back Chris Ivory bust off a 56 yard run—breaking tackles left and right—in the first quarter to put the Saints on the board. Tight end Jimmy Graham owned the second quarter, tacking on 14 points to the Saints score and giving them a 21-17 lead before halftime.
Graham was unstoppable, reeling in seven passes for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez countered by posting some impressive, record-setting numbers of his own.
Gonzalez caught his 100th and 101st touchdowns on Sunday, becoming the first tight end to catch 100 touchdown passes in his career. Of all position players, he is just the eighth in NFL history with 100 career receiving touchdowns.
Despite the loss, Matt Ryan also had a career-best on Sunday, passing for 411 yards and three TDs.
Drew Brees found Marques Colston for a 7-yard touchdown in the second half, and Garrett Hartley added on three more, as the Falcons dropped this one with a final score of 31-27.
With last week’s win the Saints have put themselves back in position for a potential playoff wildcard spot. After starting the season 0-4, they have won their last four out of five games, with the opportunity to even out their record at 5-5 as the face the Oakland Raiders next.
The Falcons will get another crack at the Saints in week 13—this time on Atlanta’s turf. In the meantime, the Falcons need continue with the mindset that they are playing for something, even though their chances at a perfect season came to an abrupt end. Every “W” is still important, and they need another this Sunday as they take on the Arizona Cardinals.