Falcons Defense Waste History Day
ATLANTA – The Falcons (1-2) fell in overtime to the New Orleans Saints (2-1) at home on Sunday, 43-37. Despite Matt Ryan’s five touchdown passes, three to Calvin Ridley, the Atlanta defense surrendered over 500 yards and five touchdowns to Drew Brees.
New Orleans’ first drive set the tone for the type of day they would have.
The first play from scrimmage was a 35-yard catch and run from wide receiver Michael Thomas then running back Alvin Kamara followed that up with a run of 17 yards and an 11-yard catch. Three plays later, Brees connected with receiver Ted Ginn for a 4-yard touchdown.
It took New Orleans just six plays and under 3 ½ minutes to score the game’s first touchdown.
Offensively, the Falcons always had an answer for the Saints.
On their second drive, Ryan completed passes to four different receivers to drive the Falcons into the red zone. Then the former MVP threw an arching touch pass to rookie receiver Calvin Ridley for an 18-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
After two field goals gave the Saints a 13-7 lead, Ryan launched a deep pass to a streaking Ridley for a 75-yard TD to give the Falcons a 14-13 lead. At that point, Calvin had already set a career-high with 129 receiving yards. That play was also Ryan’s 34th touchdown pass against the Saints, an NFL record.
Trailing 16-14 early in the second half, Ryan found Ridley in the end zone for a third time, giving the Falcons a 21-16 lead.
This made Ridley the first Falcons rookie to score three receiving touchdowns in a game and the first Falcon to do so since tight end Alge Crumpler scored three times against Pittsburg in 2006.
Ryan went on to throw two more touchdown passes to tie a single-game franchise record. But this is where the Atlanta defense started to fail.
The Saints scored three straight touchdowns to end regulation and force overtime. The third touchdown occurred when Brees scrambled to his left and cornerbacks Brian Poole, and Robert Alford whiffed on their tackle attempt allowing Brees to dive into the end zone.
The Saints then won the coin toss in overtime and drove 80-yards in 15 plays to win the game on a quarterback sneak from Brees.
Ryan’s 5-touchdown game? Wasted. Ridley’s 3-touchdown breakout game? Wasted.
Granted, the Falcons were without starting defenders Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Takk McKinley, and eventually Ricardo Allen. But seeing a historic offensive performance go to waste like that is crushing.
By: David Schiele