1:00 p.m. ET
Key Decision #1: (NO ball, trailing 29-23 / third-and-2 NO 46 / 12:17 Q4))
• ATL had just taken its first 6-point lead in this game in front of a loud home crowd, and NO faced a critical third down.
• Backup QB Taysom Hill lined up as the QB and executed an excellent RPO play as he kept the ball and ran for a first down. This was an excellent use of personnel by Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Key Decision #2: (NO ball, trailing 29-23 / fourth-and-goal ATL 1 / 10:03 Q4)
• Payton was faced with another critical decision – take the easy FG and trail by three on the road, or try for the TD from one yard out? His defense was showing cracks as ATL WR Calvin Ridley was having a career day, so Payton chose to go for the TD.
• With an excellent play call, he relied on little-used FB Zach Line for a TD reception, and the Saints led 30-29.
Key Decision #3 (ATL ball, score tied 37-37 / third-and-4 ATL 44 / :28 Q4)
• ATL had an opportunity here to drive for a game-winning FG attempt.
• This was a key third down – do the Saints choose to play coverage and only rush three or four, or do they blitz?
• The Saints chose to blitz, thereby exposing their secondary, which had struggled all day, but the pressure forced QB Matt Ryan into an incompletion and a punt.
• Both head coaches made generally good judgments throughout this matchup of two very evenly matched teams, in what is now one of the best rivalries in football.
• ATL head coach Dan Quinn was successful on two 2-point tries after TDs, even though we did not think they were the judicious calls under the circumstances.
• ATL did an excellent job with their offensive game plan of utilizing the mismatch WR Calvin Ridley had on the Saints corners PJ Williams and Ken Crawley.
• Payton utilized his personnel excellently throughout this game; FB Zach Line made critical plays as did backup QB Taysom Hill.
• Both teams did a good job going up-tempo on offense at times, especially the Saints during the OT period.