Saints Slap First Loss On Falcons
Who Dat Nation ate roasted Falcon Thursday night after the Saints made sure Atlanta took their first loss home in their luggage, 31-21.
The script couldn't have been written better by the people at Disney. After honoring Steve Gleason before the game with the George Halas Award for success in the face of adversity, the Saints came through with a big play early that raised the hair on the back of your neck. There's deja vu, then there's this.
After driving for the early 7-0 lead, the Saints had Atlanta backed up in their own territory. Then, with Gleason looking on from the stands, the Saints replicated his magical punt block against Atlanta in the famous return to the Superdome. It looked the same, it felt the same, and it set the tone for the rest of the night. Nothing feels better to Who Dat Nation than putting the Dirty Birds in their place. Should we have seen this coming? Sean Payton will certainly take the W.
"Thought we capitalized on the blocked punt," Payton said. "That was significant early on."
With the Superdome rocking, it was easy to get caught up in the nostalgia of the moment. To make matters sweeter for Drew Brees and all the Who Dats, the man of the hour was present.
"The cool thing was Steve was here to see that," Brees said. "It brought back some good memories."
One other moment stands out. In the third quarter, with the game hinging on full momentum on New Orleans side, Sean Payton gambled on 4th Down near the goal and was rewarded. Brees drew the Falcons offside, then on the 4th and Short, Brees found Ben Watson for the TD. Calls like that take...well, we'll let Drew describe.
"Had to take chances at times," Brees said. "It took some marbles to call that."
Every facet of the game improved for New Orleans against their rival. Despite allowing over 400 yards, Rob Ryan's defense forced three fumbles and recovered them all. Cam Jordan broke out for three sacks on the night, and the front harassed Matt Ryan all night.
The star of the night, on defense, was Delvin Breaux. After being told his football career was most likely over in high school, Breaux is now playing like a shut down corner in the NFL. Faced with one of the toughest tasks in the league, he showed up, big time for his coach.
"Delvin Breaux was outstanding," Payton said. "He had Julio [Jones] most of the night."
Jones still came up with six catches for 93 yards, but he didn't register any TD's or huge plays. The Breaux Show was in full effect on a night where the Saints kept their penalty numbers down too.
Offensively, it was a vintage Drew Brees performance.
The gunslinger completed 30/39 for 312 yards and a TD, but he commanded the offensive arsenal with a confidence that reminded Saints fans of the glory days. Seven receivers caught balls on the night, but Ben Watson stole the show.
With Jimmy Graham learning the blocking schemes in Seattle, it was up to the other TE's to step up for New Orleans. Watson is a consummate NFL professional, and the game rewarded him in primetime to take out the Saints' rival.
It was a career night for the 12th year vet. He hauled in ten grabs for 127 yards and a TD, and he probably would have had another score if Brees didn't sail a pass to him near the goal line in the first half. When Brees was asked about his go-to-guy, he responded simply and with a smile.
"That's my guy," Brees said.
Bourbon Street was rocking on a Thursday after this one. Rob Ryan's defense did their job, Drew Brees put the Dirty Birds in their place and all of a sudden the hope is shining again on the French Quarter.
At the beginning of the year, the answer to the phrase "Who Day" appeared to "almost everybody." After clipping the Falcons' wings, is the truth coming back to the chant?
Now sitting at 2-4 on the season, Coach Payton's group will have to continue the momentum to make a stir in the NFC South. The Falcons have a loss now, but the Panthers still sit undefeated.
No need to get ahead of ourselves, New Orleans. For now, just enjoy the feeling of a win and know Atlanta fans have a long flight home. Can you take home losses in your luggage?