After Further Review: Five takes from Saints comeback win over Falcons

Will Lutz drills a 51-yard field goal to give the Saints a victory over Atlanta. (Source:...
Will Lutz drills a 51-yard field goal to give the Saints a victory over Atlanta. (Source: Michael Nance)(Michael Nance)
Published: Sep. 11, 2022 at 8:29 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 5:58 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Processing a wild win

It was ugly. It was beautiful. It was nuts. It was Saints vs Falcons in its purest form.

There are many emotions to process after a win like this. On one hand, the Saints showed incredible resiliency to fight back from a two-score deficit when it really looked bad in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, the team played very poorly for three quarters against what many consider one of the worst rosters in football.

That’s why head coach Dennis Allen expressed pride in his opening statement at his press conference, but also gave a reality check.

“Enjoy the win, but have thick skin tomorrow because we’re not going to win a lot of games playing the way we did today.”

Sunday’s path to victory is not a secure one. They’ll no doubt take the win, they’re hard to come by in the NFL, but also understand that they won’t get away with that poor of play in most games.

Take Two: Tempo changes the game

For the first 47:19 of the Sunday game, the Saints offense looked lost. They struggled with communication up front, which led to protection busts, sacks, and general incompetence. Jameis Winston was also off target, and missed throws even when he had time.

It was ugly. Then at the 12:41 mark of the fourth quarter, down 16 points, the Saints went into two-minute mode and everything flipped.

Suddenly, the offensive line protected well. Knowing he had to pass the ball, Winston caught fire and for the first time all game got into rhythm with his receivers. He finished 16/19 in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns and a perfect passer rating. Two of those incompletions were spikes.

It ended up being the difference in the game, as the team scored 17 points in the final frame to rally and steal a victory here in Atlanta.

Take Three : Early losses at the line of scrimmage

Of all the issues that transpired early in the game, the way the Saints were consistently beat on both sides of the line of scrimmage was probably the most surprising.

Marcus Mariota running the zone read/read option gave the Saints problems. Plus, Corrdarelle Patterson was an issue for much of the game, in particular with his cutback ability. In all, the Saints surrendered 201 rushing yards. The Saints pass rush was also pretty miniscule. Some of that was by design based on the quarterback they were playing. Other times, they were simply beat.

On the flipside, the offensive line had serious issues early in the game protection. They seem to really struggle with identifying where the blitz was coming from. There were several unblocked defenders in the backfield too quickly. In the run game, outside of Taysom Hill, they couldn’t get anything going throughout the game.

Fortunately, both sides were able to adjust enough to be effective. However, the Saints are deliberately built through their lines of scrimmage. If they lose more battles up front like they did Sunday, they’ll be an inconsistent team.

Take Four: Welcome back, Mike T and Wil Lutz

It’s been a long journey back to the field for Michael Thomas and Wil Lutz. Both were sorely missed last season, and both reminded everyone how instrumental they are to the team’s success.

Thomas and Lutz combined to score 19 of the Saints’ 27 points. And it came on a day where neither had their best stuff.

In Thomas’ case he started slow. The chemistry between he and Winston just was not there. He only had one catch through three quarters. But once they went two-minute, the ball seemed to find him, and he caught four passes in the final period for two touchdowns. Both scores were on back shoulder throws near the front pylon. They require timing, precise route-running, and great hands to pull it off. It’s something Thomas clearly has, and something this team clearly missed last year.

For Lutz, he missed a 44-yard field goal early in the game, and wobbled a 49-yarder through later. However, with the game on the line from 52 yards out, no one had a doubt. Lutz delivered once again.

It’s good to have No. 3 and No. 13 back in the lineup.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • It was a crazy turn of events at the end of the game. There was massive confusion on an intentional grounding call on Winston after he spiked the ball following his 40-yard completion to Jarvis Landry. The officials ruled Landry was out of bounds, thus a quarterback can’t spike when the clock is stopped. I didn’t realize that was even a penalty. It seems like it would be foolish enough for the offense to waste a down by killing the clock when it’s already stopped. Regardless, it was called. By the way, video showed Landry was down by contact well before he got out of bounds.
  • Tyrann Mathieu’s debut as a Saint resulted in a huge play. His fumble recovery off a Marcus Maye punch out of Mariota saved the game for the Saints. At the time, the Saints were down 23-10, and Mark Ingram had just fumbled in Saints territory. The Falcons were down inside the red zone, and could have put the game away.
  • Winston didn’t throw any interceptions, but came dangerously close to tossing two. Fortunately, both fell incomplete.
  • Linebacker Pete Werner had an excellent game. Not only did he force a fumble, but he also led the team with 13 tackles.
  • Taysom Hill was the Saints offense early in the game, his 57-yard run and 11-yard touchdown kept the Saints afloat while the rest of that side of the ball struggled. Hill is still very much a vital part of what the Saints do offensively.
  • Speaking of Hill, not sure why they didn’t use him on the two-point conversion down 26-24. Instead, they ran Ingram out the wildcat with no success.
  • Congratulations to Dennis Allen on his first win as Saints head coach.

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