That was not ideal.
In a game that featured wild turnovers, chippy play, and a long list of questionable calls, the New Orleans Saints emerged as victors over the Atlanta Falcons and in doing so clinched a playoff birth. Now, in order for Atlanta to get into the big dance, they will have to win their final game at home against Carolina or have the Seahawks lose their final game against Arizona.
The game was frustrating for the Falcons from the very first drive. They had a long Devonta Freeman run wiped out by an unnecessary hold from Jake Matthews, one of the few calls against Atlanta in the game that actually was legitimate. For the remainder of the half, stupid mistakes and horrendous officiating doomed the Falcons. Give the Falcons’ defense credit-they kept the Saints at 6 points for most of the half despite battling the referees until the Saints scored a touchdown late following, you guessed it, another Matt Ryan interception that was tipped by a receiver. The interception was only completed by New Orleans because the ball landed on the butt of a Saints player-it was that kind of an afternoon for the Falcons.
The second half began with a bang as Deion Jones intercepted Drew Brees and returned the ball to the one yard line, only for Devonta Freeman to fumble it and give the ball back to New Orleans a few plays later. Later in the game, Julio Jones caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown according to NFL rules, but the referees in this game appeared to be going by their own set of Saints-biased rules and somehow ruled Julio to be short of the goal line. Naturally, on the next down, the Falcons did not utilize the quarterback sneak from literally inches away from the end zone and instead opted for a handoff to Freeman, who fell short of the end zone on fourth down.
While the referees were laughable all afternoon, the Falcons arguably hurt themselves even more than the zebras did. As previously mentioned, the Falcons had the ball twice on the Saints’ one yard line and were unable to get points either time. Matt Ryan again had throws he missed that he needs to make if this team has postseason plans. While the defense played well for the most part, a couple lapses in coverage cost Atlanta dearly.
Up next for Atlanta is a New Year’s Eve date against our good friend Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers in a game that is likely to be moved to either the 4:25 or 8:30 time slot, as it has huge playoff implications. Atlanta will need the stadium to be rocking in order to give them every possible advantage in their quest for the playoffs, so get their early and be loud, Falcons fans!