What we liked: The Grit
On the road, on a short week, down several starters, and a loss by three? The Saints had to overcome a plethora of obstacles. But playing as poorly as they did at times, it’s almost shocking the game was in reach. It’s a great sign that with the playoffs slowly approaching, the Saints have proven they can be resilient in many ways .
What we didn’t like: Alvin Kamara’s Injury
As the Saints started their first drive of the game, it appeared the Falcons were going to be in for a long night. Within six plays the Saints had marched into Atlanta’s red zone.
Then, this happened.
— Bleacher Report NFL (@BR_NFL) December 8, 2017
For a team already struggling with injuries, Kamara’s exit was the last thing NOLA needed. If there is any good news, however, it’s that the Saints have a nice amount of time to heal. Hopefully, the Saints’ best weapon escapes any lingering effects and is back healthy soon.
When it was over:
When Sean Payton received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with 1:20 remaining in the game.
The Saints had one timeout left and without the penalty would have been approaching a game-deciding third down. However, Payton’s game long frustration had finally boiled over. The Falcons received a first down and took a knee the rest of the way.
1: The Saints continue to battle despite injury adversity.
It feels like every week the Saints have an injury or two to overcome. Already playing without starting left guard, Andrus Peat, the Saints lost 5 additional starters Thursday. That doesn’t sound like a good natural recipe to beat a division rival on the road. Some rough officiating did the Saints few favors, but they can’t make excuses. The Saints ultimately were brought down by a few mistakes of their own. It was still a great sign to continue to watch them battle, undermanned.
2: The Secondary
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan did his team zero favors tonight. Ryan threw three interceptions and made several questionable throws throughout the night. Some credit goes to the Saints secondary, as they made plays when needed, and didn’t give up the big one.
New Orleans also forced Ryan to throw into some tight windows, which is not one of his strengths. New Orleans should be more than satisfied with their defensive performance. That performance was led by their secondary.
3: Saints get a much-needed break
As the game continued, it appeared getting out “alive” was the most important factor. As mentioned earlier, countless Saints players left with injuries preparing on a short week. With ten days until their next game next Sunday, this break couldn’t come at a better time.
Up Next: New York Jets 12/17
After a Philadelphia Eagles loss last week, the Saints appeared to have a fair chance at a first-round playoff bye. Now they must turn their focus back to their division. That starts with a matchup against an explosive Jets offense. But with ten days of rest, expect New Orleans to look fresh, and fully prepared.