Breakdown of the Saints’ Monday Night loss

Atlanta Falcons tackle Ryan Schraeder (73) reacts to the official on a score by Tevin Coleman, not seen, duirng the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

(The Daily Advertiser)

WHAT HAPPENED

The Saints came out fired up, driving 75 yards with 11 plays in 6:35, to try to get the crowd into the game. Then the defense forced a punt, only for Greg McMahon’s punt return team to fumble and give Atlanta a gift touchdown. The short-handed Saints’ defense didn’t need that extra burden, having no answer for Matt Ryan’s offense, which finished the first half with four straight TD drives to take a 28-14 lead.

The Saints seemed determined to run the ball and ran it effectively, but the big early deficit reduced those options.

THE GOOD

There wasn’t much good. The running game looked good when they weren’t so far behind that the offense had to be in hurry-up mode. One week after struggling on offense in New York, the passing game was fairly productive, despite playing without left tackle Terron Armstead and top possession receiver Willie Snead.

THE BAD

The defense was beat up and looked completely overmatched and played with no passion whatsoever. The special teams remain a total disaster, giving Atlanta the gift touchdown in a game where stops were going to be so difficult to get.

TURNING POINT(S)

The first one was the punt return debacle that gave Atlanta a gift touchdown. The second one was a pass interference call on a deep pass on third-and-two from the 14. If incomplete, the Falcons would have been punting to the Saints only leading 21-14 with about two minutes left. Instead, Atlanta went 94 yards in 1:23 to take a 14-point lead.

Amazingly, the Saints were still in it the game. First down at the Falcons 11 with a potential TD drawing New Orleans within six points, Brees threw his first interception of the season and Deion Jones returned it 90 yards for a touchdown to put the game away. It ended the longest stretch without an interception in Brees’ career.

LAGNIAPPE

It was the Falcons’ first win on Monday Night Football in 12 games … It also broke the a six-game losing streak against New Orleans on Monday Night … The Saints offense continues to struggle on third down after leading the NFL in third-down conversions a year ago at 5-for-11 in Monday’s loss. The Saints were 2-of-2 on fourth down,however … In perhaps the most surprising statistic of the event the Falcons amazingly failed on six third-down tries as well … The Saints averaged five yards a carry, while the Falcons averaged seven yards a carry.

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