ATLANTA, GA- The Atlanta Falcons (2-9) lost a close game to the New Orleans Saints (9-2) 17-13 at the Georgia Dome on Thursday Night Football.
The team played well and showed some spirit when their division rivals Saints marched into town. It was a good game that still had fans, including me, upset with the outcome. The Falcons deserved to win that one. Somehow, someway they deserved to win.
Ever since the no-flag situation happened with the Carolina Panthers (7-3), the refs haven’t wanted to seem biased towards the home team so they ignored a flagrant foul when Akiem Hicks’s hand first hit Matt Ryan in the head then it looked like he possibly grabbed a chunk of facemask.
Not one, but two missed calls on what was eventually ruled as a sack for Hicks. Ryan even signaled for a call or at least review but the league is most likely responding to the lack of viewers the Falcons are drawing this year nationwide.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham gets a free pass to disrespect the dome as he slam dunks and latches his massive frame to the goal post. This would in fact delay the game as official crew members had to re-straighten the posts and even used a giant level, courtesy of the Home Depot.
Signs of life
I was impressed that the defense was able to finally contain a team this season. Not just any team; it was Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints that were held to less than 20 points. Now if only both the offense and defense could get on the same page and produce at the same time, Atlanta might have something for next year.
This slight defensive improvement could be the fact that Sean Weatherspoon is back. The more intriguing aspect is that Paul Worrilow had to be moved due to his return. He was moved ahead of the two-year veteran Akeem Dent at MLB. Worrilow’s numbers are obviously being increased by the lack of production of the defensive line.
Running backs, every week, run through the line of scrimmage like wet toilet paper right into the secondary where they seemingly drop right into Worrilow’s lap. The team needs someone who can find the ball carrier and bring him down. Too many times do we see the guys in the secondary trying to go for big hits or strips.
Along this line it should be mentioned that Desmond Trufant already has 52 tackles, 13 passes defended, an interception, and even a forced fumble. Those are stats I would expect of someone who has been in the league for a few years. As a comparison Robert McClain, a third year player, has 123 tackles, 14 passes deflected, an interception, and no forced fumbles in his entire career.
The offense had the Saints backed into a corner and then they, both literally and figuratively dropped the ball. Darius Johnson had an impressive night, save for a crucial third down dropped pass and a fumble while the Falcons were driving deep into the red zone.
Johnson would have six catches for 67 yards on the night. Harry Douglas and Roddy White seemed to have swapped their talent. While Roddy was open a few times he still may not be 100 percent after both an ankle and hamstring injury that kept him out for multiple weeks. He ended the night with two catches for 24 yards, while Douglas had nine catches for 79 yards. So it appears that once again Drew Davis has taken a back seat and seems to once again become relegated to the number four spot on the wide receiver list.
The mild success of Ryan and the solid game by the receivers can be contributed to the running game.
While not great I enjoyed seeing Steven Jackson run for first downs and knock some guys around. He would end up with 16 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately the trend continues for Jackson, he has never been on a winning team before. He has been in the wildcard playoffs with an 8-8 record with the St. Louis Rams. Hopefully the team won’t let him down before it’s too late like Tony Gonzalez.
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