Key Decision #1: (ATL trails 6-0 / 1st & 10 ATL 48/ 1:08 Q2)
- Up to this point, the Falcons defense had played very well in holding the Saints to a 6-0 lead. New Orleans was struggling in the redzone and on 3rd down against the Atlanta defense.
- After a 23-yard completion to WR Julio Jones, the Falcons had a 1st & 10 on their 48 and two timeouts – a perfect recipe for at least a FG before halftime, if not a TD.
- The Falcons, unfortunately for them, failed to capitalize. After two incompletions, QB Matt Ryan faced a 3rd & 10 and a loud New Orleans home crowd. He threw an interception, and the Saints immediately capitalized with a Drew Brees to WR Ted Ginn 54-yard TD pass and their first two-possession lead in the game (13-0).
Key Decision #2: (ATL trails 20-3 / 4th & goal inside NO 1 yd line / 15:00 Q4)
- With offensive frustration mounting, the Falcons chose to go for the TD here, instead of kicking a FG and making it 20-6 with an entire quarter to play. Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn has shown a greater penchant this season for going for 4th downs (he went for one on 4th & 1 from his own 40 in Q1 down 3-0). This time, however, he didn’t get it, and the Falcons started the final quarter with a three-possession deficit.
- We felt that with your season on the line, and only one quarter left in this game, taking the FG and having an entire quarter to close the deficit was the more reasonable path, especially since the Falcons defense had played well most of the game to this point.
- Saints Head Coach Sean Payton’s defensive staff did an excellent job working in their reserves. Backup DE Hau’oli Kikaha and LB Manti Teo had good games and key contributions, as did S Vonn Bell.
- The Saints, however, continue to struggle on key 3rd downs. They had several occasions to put this game away earlier if they could have converted some key 3rd downs, but much credit has to go to the Falcons defense as well.