Sit down, be humble. This is exactly what happened to the Saints as the Falcons defeated them 26-9 on Sunday. It seemed like nothing would go right for the black and gold throughout the whole game. Offense struggled to put points on the board. Defense could not stop the Falcons on third down and on the ground. Definitely seemed like the bye week came at the wrong time in the second half of the season. Let us dive into what went wrong and right for the Saints:
Tick Tick Boom
During the Saints win streak, the biggest factor for their success was time of possession. They averaged 33 minutes in their seven wins which is also a hair higher than their season average. This game, the Falcons dominated the clock taking up 33 minutes and change to the Saints’ 26 and change. They did so by running the ball effectively early on in the contest. It hurts even more when they had four drives of ten plus plays, which was as many as they had all season.
Running Away From The Run
The Saints played from behind majority of the game. It really showed in the box score because they only ran the ball eleven times. Eleven. More importantly, they should have ran the ball on third down in their opening possession from the two yard line. It is hard to understand why we get away from what was working in previous games. Latavius Murray is a work horse who needs 15-20 touches a game. Now that Alvin Kamara is healthy, the game plan should still be the same. Establish the run early and often and the passing game will follow. But it is also easier said than done. However, if you do not try, how will you ever find out?
Throw The Whole In The Wall
The offensive line for the Saints has been one of the best for several years. But this game, they got obliterated all game long. The Falcons defense only had seven sacks going into the game. They finished the day with six, nearly doubling their season total. Terron Armstead did not have his best game, especially after coming down with the flu just a couple days beforehand. But Andrus Peat was the main culprit of the game. For a guy his size, he gets put on his bottom way too much and it is starting to become enough for the Who Dat Nation. Will Clapp replaced him after an “injury” but the results were no different.
Shooting Yourself In The Foot
Penalties were the Saints’ worst enemy all game long. They committed 12 of them for 90 yards. Some calls were suspect compared to others. But the worst was that they were call for four illegal use of hands penalties which is absurd. I feel that this rule needs to be taken out of the game. Hands will fly around and inadvertently hit, grab or pull something. This is just what happens in the game. Same way with a roughing the punter call on J.T. Gray that extend a Falcons drive. There was nothing he could do in that situation since he was going for a block. It was not like it was intentional. Certain rules need adjustments based on how the foul occurs.
Bright Spots On A Dull Day
There were a few bright spots in a very poor performance. Michael Thomas continued his dominant ways with 13 catches for 152 yards. Demario Davis showed his worth with 11 tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss. Deonte Harris make some great plays in the return game to keep the Saints in the game. Wil Lutz was perfect on his three field goal attempts. Jared Cook also picked up where he left off with six catches for 74 yards. Outside of this, the team struggled everywhere else, especially in the red zone, not scoring a touchdown on three possessions. It has been an Achilles’ heel for a while now and needs to improve as soon as possible.
Games like this happen from time to time. Same thing happened to start last season when everyone counted Tampa Bay out. This is the perfect wake up call for this team after a bye week. It goes to show that records mean nothing, especially against division opponents. We can only hope that this loss puts a fire under them to play better football from here on out.