The Saints at the Falcons is a game that never disappoints in the entertainment aspect. These games always go until the last play of the game and this time went in the favor of the New Orleans Saints. The game ended with Drew Brees diving into the end zone which won the game and did not allow the Falcons offense to touch the field in overtime. Two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL battled in this deep divisional rivalry that made for a thrilling early Sunday game. The Falcons lost at home 43-37 to the Saints.
Record Setting Offense
Both teams’ offensive leaders showed up big in this game. Drew Brees came into the game 14 completions away from tying the NFL record for overall completions. In his 3rd game of the 2018 season, he shattered the record that was last held by the Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Brees was also able to rush for two touchdowns including the seven yard run to extend the game to overtime and the game winning one yard run.
The Falcons also had a record setting day of their own. For the first time in his career, Matt Ryan threw five touchdown passes with no interceptions. Three of those five touchdowns were caught by the first round draft pick Calvin Ridley. Ridley became the first Falcons rookie to catch three touchdown passes in a game. The last rookie in the NFL to catch three touchdowns in a game was Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. Ridley set his career high in stats, having seven receptions for 146 yards with his longest being a 75 yard pick up.
The Falcons offense continued their success in the red zone going five for five inside the 20-yard line. The one time the Falcons did not convert on 3rd down in the red zone, the Saints committed an unnecessary roughness penalty during the field goal attempt leading to a fresh set of downs. The game had 10 lead changes and there were five straight possessions with lead changes that all ended with a touchdown.
Clearly by the looks of the final score, both defenses could not stop the other team from scoring. During the game, it seemed as though the team that ended with the ball would win the game. The Falcons allowed the Saints to get a big stop at the end of regulation which ruined their chances of being able to attempt a game winning field goal. The Falcons have a depleted defense because of early season injuries and heading into this game were down four defensive starters. In the third quarter, corner Justin Bethel left with a knee injury and in the beginning minutes of overtime, safety Ricardo Allen suffered a calf injury.
The Falcons defense had issues getting pressure on Brees and gave him too much time in the pocket. The defensive line missed the presence of defensive end, Takk McKinley. Although Vic Beasley got a very timely sack, there was not a much pass rush for the Falcons at all.
This was the first time in two years that the Falcons have lost a game where they scored 20+ points. The defense is injury-riddled and this is only the third game of the season. The NFC South is one of, if not the strongest division in the NFL, and it is pretty easy to say that this year will be another year where more than one team in this division will make it to the postseason. The Falcons never seem to have both sides of the ball playing at a high level and this year is no different. They will be hoping to see a change in luck on the defensive side of the ball.
The Falcons stay at home next week to face the Cincinnati Bengals.