The NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints went on the road to take on the division rival Atlanta Falcons on this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football.
Thursday Night Football to get Week 14 of the NFL season kicked off saw the New Orleans Saints, leaders of the NFC South, hit the road to take on the defending division champion Atlanta Falcons who are pushing to stay alive in the playoff race. Thursday night marked the first of the two meetings between the two heated rivals, with the Falcons making a trip to New Orleans on Christmas Eve to finish up the season series.
But, Thursday night, it was all about the first bout between these two, and Round 1 would somehow end up going to the Falcons at home.
With reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan playing one of the worst games you’ll see from him all season (15-of-27 with three interceptions on the evening), the rest of this Atlanta team was able to do just enough, especially on the defensive side of the ball, to stay in the race for the division with a 20-17 win.
The game was tied at 17 in the fourth quarter but the Falcons drove 38 yards in eight plays and capped it all off with a 52-yard Matt Bryant field go. The Saints had more than enough time to drive down the field for a win, but those hopes were dashed when Drew Brees — who had been playing stellar to that point — committed his first turnover of the game, an interception in the end zone to linebacker Deion Jones of the Falcons. That pick would seal the deal for Atlanta and give them the leg up this season in the rivalry.
One big injury note to pass along from this one, Saints rookie sensation Alvin Kamara left the game in the first half and the rookie running back would not return to the game as he was ruled out with a concussion.
1. Deion Jones, LB, Falcons
Jones was fantastic on the defensive side of the ball in the win for the Falcons. In addition to preserving the win for the Falcons with that late interception in the end zone of Brees, he also recorded 13 total tackles including three that went for losses.
2. Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons
After touching the ball just 13 times last week in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Freeman saw the pigskin a little more on Thursday night in the win, and it showed. Freeman finished the game with 91 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown.
3. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
On the losing end, Michael Thomas had the best receiving game of anyone on the field Thursday night. The talented, second-year player out of Ohio State hauled in 10 of Brees’ passes on Thursday night for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Following the Thursday night primetime showdown, the division-leading Saints will head back home where they will host the New York Jets next Sunday. Meanwhile, the Falcons will hit the road next Monday night for another division game on national television as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.