Game Balls: Saints vs. Falcons (Week 13)
After defeating the Atlanta Falcons by the score of 26-18 and clinching their third consecutive NFC South division crown these are the Saints that earned “Games Balls” from the Saints News Network.
Following his career high four-sack performance Thanksgiving night, the former 2011 first-round pick now leads the National Football League in sacks with 13.5 through Week 13. The Saints pass rusher was the focal point of a relentless defense that forced three turnovers (2 interceptions, and 1 fumble) against QB Matt Ryan’s offense that ran 85 offensive plays on 13 possessions.
Jordan has eclipsed double-digit sacks in a season for the fifth time in his career, and for the third consecutive season. His 13.5 sacks leads the NFL pass rushers with 4 games remaining on the season and he broke his previous high of 13 sacks in 2017.
Jordan made NFL history by sacking Matt Ryan 18 times since joining the NFL out of the University of California at Berkeley. The defensive end has the most sacks of any player on an opposing quarterback in the league since the NFL began recording sacks as a statistic.
What can QB/TE/KR/RB Taysom Hill not do for the New Orleans Saints? Not much. The former BYU standout quarterback continues to thrive in his unique role under Sean Payton as the Saints' "not so secret weapon." The Green Bay Packers waived Hill at the conclusion of the 2017 preseason. Sean Payton and his staff quickly signed Hill and he has found a home in New Orleans. Taysom has garnered the reputation for being one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL.
Hill’s Thanksgiving holiday started with a literal bang by blocking a Falcons punt on their opening drive. Four plays later, Hill affectionately known as the Saints' “Swiss Army Knife”, found the endzone off of a Drew Brees shovel pass. Hill's reward gave the Saints a quick 7-0 lead inside of Falcons' Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Later in the second quarter, Hill scored the Saints last touchdown of the contest with a 30 yard scamper to pay dirt. The Saints would lead 17-6. It was the third career rushing touchdown for Hill and his second touchdown on the day.
The Saints' special teams’ woes late in the game allowed Atlanta to recover back-to-back onside kicks had the Special Team's coaching staff considering ripping out their hair. But, it was Wil Lutz’s consistency in the kicking game that prevented Special Teams Coordinator, Darren Rizzi, from going bald at the conclusion of the game.
Lutz connected on all four field goal attempts and both point after attempts on Thursday night. This was another solid performance by Lutz who kicked a 33-yard game winner four days ago against Carolina in New Orleans. Currently, Lutz has kicked 27-31 (87%) on field goal attempts and has not missed from inside 40 yards this season.
Bell was a true “Iron Man” last night by playing all 93 defensive snaps for the Saints, including his additional role on special teams. According to the snap count below, Bell played a total of 104 snaps on Thursday night in a non-overtime game.
Bell, in his fourth season, continues to grow as a defensive standout for the Saints. The former Ohio State All-American is not known as a cover safety, however, his aggressive style of play has contributed to six turnovers in 2019. His five fumble recoveries leads the league in that category through 13 weeks.
Bell recorded 5 tackles in the Falcons game, all solo tackles. He recovered critical Matt Ryan fumble in the fourth quarter which helped the Saints close out the football game with 8:41 remaining in regulation.
A Note on Week 14 for the Saints: New Orleans (10-2) will host San Francisco (10-1) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 8 at 12 PM CST. With a victory against the Niners, the Saints will hold the head-to-head advantage in the NFC playoff tie-breaker. A win will also move the Saints to first place in the NFC heading into the final 3 games of the regular season.
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