Taysom Hill, Saints Defense Power Past Falcons
NEW ORLEANS -- Taysom Hill skeptics can take a seat for another week after what transpired on Sunday, as the Saints improved to 8-2 on the year after downing the Falcons. The New Orleans defense was superb on the day, while Hill relied on several of his main weapons en route to a nice offensive day in a 24-9 win.
The Saints won the opening coin toss and opted to defer the ball to the second half, giving the Falcons the ball to start the game. Atlanta wasted little time moving the ball down the field, going for several Matt Ryan passes to begin the drive. A big 46-yard hookup to Calvin Ridley put the Falcons in business, but the New Orleans defense would tighten, forcing a 28-yard Younghoe Koo field goal. Atlanta struck first with their 7-play, 65-yard drive that took 3:39 off the clock.
New Orleans would go three-and-out to start their first drive after a promising start with Taysom Hill completing his first pass attempt to Michael Thomas. However, Hill would be sacked for a 9-yard loss on 3rd-and-1 after being unable to find anyone open. Atlanta wouldn't be able to do much on their ensuing possession, giving the ball right back to New Orleans after their own 3-and-out. On the drive, Cam Jordan picked up his 19th sack in his 19th game against the Falcons.
The second Taysom Hill drive was much better, as the Saints offense went 66 yards in 9 plays. Unfortuntately, they'd have to settle on a 22-yard Wil Lutz field goal after being unable to get the ball in the end zone from the Falcons' 4-yard line. A big jet sweep to Deonte Harris really got things going, and Hill also had a big connection to Adam Trautman to set them up with their goal-to-go situation. A big pass interference call on Darqueze Dennard also extended the drive, as he was defending Michael Thomas. While the Saints couldn't punch it in, Michael Thomas did set some NFL history on the drive, hauling in his 482nd career catch. He surpassed Jarvis Landry for most catches by a single player in the first five seasons of their career.
Atlanta's next offensive drive did result in points, as they added on a 51-yard Koo field goal. New Orleans was once again able to move the ball down the field, but stalled out when it counted most. A rare drop to a wide open Michael Thomas was followed up by a 3-yard Hill sack and failed Kamara screen play attempt. The end result was a missed 53-yard field goal by Lutz, as Atlanta kept its 6-3 lead with 11:09 left until halftime.
Dennis Allen's defense would help get the ball right back, as the teams traded 3-and-outs. Atlanta would add another after New Orleans gave it back to them, going 36 yards in 8 plays to result in a 52-yard Koo field goal to extend their lead to 9-3 at the 4:31 mark of the second quarter. The Saints would finally get the first touchdown of the game, as Hill helped pilot New Orleans to a 7-play, 80-yard that included a 45-yard play to Emmanuel Sanders. Kamara would finish the drive, scoring on a 3-yard run to put the Saints up 10-9 at the 1:46 mark.
Atlanta would try to make their own work in the two-minute drill, but would come up short, as Ryan was picked off by Marcus Williams. It was his 13th career interception, which moved him into the Top 10 franchise books, being up there with Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas.
Entering the second half, New Orleans got it into the end zone on an impressive 10-play, 80-yard drive that took 5:49 off the clock. The Saints got big back-to-back plays from Latavius Murray on the drive, while Hill also found Michael Thomas a few times. It came down to a 4th-and-Goal from the 2-yard line, but Sean Payton rolled with a beefy set to have Hill keep it and get in for the score to extend their lead to 17-9.
The Saints defense would shut the Falcons down on their first possession of the half, getting sacks from David Onyemata and Demario Davis. It was the 6th sack of the day on Ryan. After getting the ball back, it looked like New Orleans was on their way to striking again, but an Erik McCoy holding call wiped out a deep touchdown shot to Emmanuel Sanders. Instead, the Saints would punt after going backwards from a Deion Jones sack to give Atlanta back the ball with 3:22 left in the third quarter.
New Orleans would force another 3-and-out on the next Falcons drive, and offensively were moving the ball well to close out the quarter. They got it down to a 3rd-and-3 from the Falcons' 28-yard line to close out the third quarter. It would pay off, as Hill got his second rushing touchdown of the game from 10 yards out, extending the Saints lead to 24-9 after the 6-play, 53-yard drive.
Atlanta would again be shut down on their next offensive possession, while New Orleans was looking to increase their lead. The only thing that stopped them was a Taysom Hill fumble after a 20-yard rush. The Falcons were faced with a 4th-and-13 in their own territory, but kept things alive after Ryan would find Julio Jones for a 22-yard pickup. The play before that, David Onyemata got the team's 8th sack of the game. However, the Saints defense shut the door again after Janrois Jenkins got an interception with 5:03 left in the game.
New Orleans would run things down to 1:09 on their final offensive possession, and the clock would run out for Atlanta, as the Saints won 24-9. The Saints now go on the road for three straight weeks, as they have a date in Denver next Sunday in an afternoon kickoff.