Heading into Sunday’s matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, the talk centered around Drew Brees’s eleven fractured ribs and collapsed lung he sustained in last week’s win over the San Francisco 49ers. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton named Taysom Hill as the starter Friday afternoon. Coming into the game, Hill had more tackles (13) than passes (11) on the season. However, as the dust settled inside the Louisiana Superdome, the Saints would dominate the Falcons 24-9.
Hill completed 18 of 23 passes for 223 yards. He also ran for 51 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“Man, he played tremendous,” said Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who had nine catches for 104 yards. “I can tell, all throughout the week, his preparation, I can see the look in his eyes. He was ready for the moment every day. He found a way to win today. And he just progressed today and everyone saw it. And I’m very proud of him. And man, I’m kind of at a loss for words because I know he’s been waiting for that moment and he finally got it. And he showed what he could do and we still have a lot of room for improvement. That’s the exciting thing.”
Meanwhile, the Falcons moved the ball pretty well on their first drive. The offense traveled 65 yards on seven plays to the Saints’ 10-yard line only to come away with a Younghoe Koo field goal. As the game progressed, the Saints’ defense bowed up and only allowed two more field goals the rest of the way.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 19 of 37 passes for 232 yards. He threw no touchdowns, was intercepted twice, and was sacked eight times.
“They did a good job of rushing different packages the entire day, stressing our pass protection and they did a good job of covering in the back end,” Ryan said. “Tip your hat to them, they played well today and we have to play better in a couple of weeks when we see them again.”
The Falcons were miserable on third down, only converting two of fourteen opportunities.
“They absolutely dominated us on third down,” Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Raheem Morris explained. “They did a really good job in coverage, I know the sack numbers will probably get out of whack because of how well they played in their coverage. It was really not a lack of protection or a lack of discipline, busted assignments, it was really those guys doing a really good job of coverage, absolutely covering our wideouts and Matt (Ryan) having to hold onto the ball. A combination of all of those things played into that.”
Todd Gurley had eight carries for 27 yards on the afternoon. As a team, the Falcons ran the ball fourteen times for 52 yards. Meanwhile, the Saints ran 36 times for 168 yards. Norcross’s own Alvin Kamara rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown. He became the first running back to tally 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in each of his first four NFL seasons.
“We have that mentality throughout the locker room that next man up type of thing,” Kamara said. “Whoever goes down (gets injured) it is what it is. This game does not stop for one player. Everybody knows that. It is nothing personal. It’s the nature of the game. Next person has to step up, get ready and be prepared.”
Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons return to Mercedes-Benz Stadium where they’ll take on the Las Vegas Raiders. The kickoff is 1:00 PM. However, the Saints will pay the Falcons a visit on December 6th.
“For sure, it’s going to be a quick turnaround,” Ryan said. “Obviously, we have Vegas next week and they are playing very well so we have to focus on that and be better and get a win next week, but we’ll see these guys in two weeks and hopefully have a different outcome.”