ATLANTA -- The New Orleans Saints finished their season on a positive note, knocking off the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to close out the regular season. At the conclusion of their game, we awaited the fate of the 49ers-Rams game, which went into overtime.
The Saints opened with the football after Atlanta won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half kickoff. New Orleans did not disappoint, getting their first opening possession touchdown of the season after going 84 yards in 10 plays that ended with an 18-yard Taysom Hill pass to Adam Trautman for the score. Alvin Kamara had a big 27-yard play on the drive, as seven different players touched the ball on the series. Nick Vannett also had a nice 10-yard screen play, as New Orleans averaged 8.4 yards/play to go up 7-0 with 8:29 left in the opening quarter.
Atlanta countered by putting together a 10-play drive of their own, getting their first points on the board from a 48-yard Younghoe Koo field goal to make it 7-3 with 3:15 left in the opening frame. The Falcons picked up an easy 15 yards early on the drive after a David Onyemata roughing the passer penalty happened on Matt Ryan from going low, and a big 26-yard pass hookup from Ryan to Russell Gage were the big highlights on the 45-yard drive. The Saints got a big sack on 3rd-and-9 from the combined efforts of Onyemata and Marcus Davenport to set the field goal up.
The Saints had another strong offensive drive on their next possession, but failed to cash in on points after Brett Maher missed a 34-yard field goal. New Orleans started the drive getting a big 26-yard hookup from Hill to Lil'Jordan Humphrey, who got hurt later in the drive. Alvin Kamara was doing well running the ball, while Deonte Harty also helped move the ball downfield. It was another 10-play drive for New Orleans, as they kept their 7-3 lead.
Atlanta put together another scoring drive, as they went 40 yards in 7 plays that ended with a 54-yard Younghoe Koo field goal to make it 7-6 Saints with 10:31 left until the half. Ryan hit Olamide Zaccheaus for a 28-yard gain on the drive that helped spring the Falcons across midfield.
The pressure was on the Saints offense, as they quickly found themselves in a 3rd-and-9 after their first two plays. Hill connected with Tre'Quan Smith over the middle, who ended up getting 34 yards on the catch-and-run play to put New Orleans in business. It was fitting for Smith to finish the drive for the Saints too, as he capped off the 9-play, 73-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown catch from Trevor Siemian. Taysom Hill got hurt on the drive, and ended up leaving the field with his left cleat in his hand and favoring that side.
Atlanta ended up giving the ball right back to the Saints after being aggressive on their first play, as Ryan was picked off by Paulson Adebo on a deep attempt. He returned it to the Saints' 46-yard-line after securing the pick one-handed. Siemian got some run support early on the drive from Alvin Kamara and Tony Jones Jr., and then a costly 15-yard roughing the passer penalty on Dante Fowler Jr. kept things going for the Saints on a 3rd-and-9 from the Falcons' 41-yard-line. The drive would eventually stall out, but Maher would connect from 37 yards out to put New Orleans up 17-6 with 1:03 left before the half.
Looking to operate in the two-minute drill, the Falcons turned the ball over once again on their first play on the series. Mike Davis fumbled after a hit from Malcolm Jenkins, which Kwon Alexander recovered. Just a few plays later, Trevor Siemian hit Juwan Johnson on 3rd-and-4 from the Falcons' 5-yard-line to get into the end zone before halftime to make it 24-6 Saints.
New Orleans forced a quick three-and-out on the Falcons to open up the third quarter. They'd have a promising start to their drive, powered once again by Alvin Kamara. A couple plays later, a fumble by Siemian put the Saints in a 3rd-and-14 situation that saw Kamara get 13 on a screen play. New Orleans gambled on 4th Down from their own 45-yard-line, and they got an illegal formation penalty to go along with being short of the line to gain.
As Atlanta took over at the 10:04 mark of the third quarter, they had a short field to work with and threatened to put point on the board after some good plays from Russell Gage and Mike Davis. However, New Orleans shut the door and got the ball back on downs after Ryan's 4th-and-2 pass from the 8-yard-line was broken up by Cam Jordan.
Meanwhile, we kept a close watch on the 49ers-Rams game, as they were tied at 17-17 going into the final quarter. New Orleans ran a three-and-out and punted the ball back to Atlanta, who showed signs of life. They put together a 4-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a Qadree Ollison 19-yard rushing touchdown. Two plays prior, Ryan connected with Hayden Hurst for a 33-yard reception.
The 24-13 lead put some pressure on the Saints for their next series, and they were able to move the ball down the field on a 13-play, 66-yard drive that saw them add a 27-yard Brett Maher field goal. Siemian connected with Tre'Quan Smith on 3rd-and-3 to keep the drive going early, while Kamara kept going on the ground with runs of 11 and 13 yards. Deonte Harty also caught a 10-yard pass to put it 1st-and-Goal from the Falcons' 4-yard-line, but Atlanta stood tall and prevented a touchdown.
Trailing 27-13 with 10:55 to play, Atlanta looked to do their best to get back into it, but immediately turned it over after Mike Davis fumbled from a Kwon Alexander strip. Shy Tuttle recovered it, and the Saints took over with great field position. They ran a 7-play drive that went just 14 yards, but ended up adding another Brett Maher field goal, this time from 33 yards out to make it 30-13 with 7:36 to play.
New Orleans took back over after stopping the Falcons, as Marcus Davenport strip-sacked Matt Ryan to open the drive. They'd run a three-and-out, and New Orleans would counter with one of their own as time dwindled.
The Falcons took over with 4:17 left in the game, and Cam Jordan ended up picking up a sack on 2nd-and-8 to put the Falcons in a 3rd-and-15 situation. They'd end up going for it on 4th-and-2 and converting it to keep things going, but the time and score were not on their side.
Atlanta ended up adding a touchdown late to make it 30-21 with 21 second left, as the 49ers were driving in overtime against the Rams. New Orleans bled out the clock, and went to the locker room to await their fate.
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