Seafood gumbo and sweet peaches rumbled in the Nawlins with Fox behind the camera. The first quarter began with the Falcons on offense. Two minutes in and there’s already a challenge on an incomplete pass call. Mike Smith didn’t win the challenge. Saints wide receiver Lance Moore demonstrated field-slicing swiftness by returning the ball seventy-two yards from a Michael Koenen punt. A few plays later, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jeremy Shockey connected for a touchdown catch in the end zone. New Orleans 7 and Atlanta 0. The Falcons responded with a steady momentum on offense courtesy of tight end Tony Gonzalez. Nine plays into the Falcon’s second go and quarterback Matt Ryan threw a TD pass to Gonzalez. New Orleans 7 and Atlanta 7.
The Falcons defense displayed their shining colors when cornerback Brent Grimes intercepted a throw meant for Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson. Drew Brees “righted” that passing “wrong” when Lance Moore made a TD when the Saints got the ball back. New Orleans 14 and Atlanta 7.
The second quarter started off with Drew Brees and posse performing solidly on offense…until four minutes in when Brees managed to wiggle out of a sack but was off-balance when he chucked the ball in the direction of another Saint. Golden fleece carpet ride! Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud was there to make that catch (he then jogged along the sidelines a handful of yards, arms outspread and the ball in one hand). Tony Gonzalez proved his abilities again when he out-maneuvered the Saints defensive player trailing him to become an open receiver for Matt Ryan and then later when he held onto the ball in the red zone. It took a number of attempts, but the Falcons eventually got into the end zone via running back Michael Turner. New Orleans 14 and Atlanta 14.
Halfway through the third quarter the ball got loose from one of the Saints players and one of the Falcons recovered it from under a pile of bodies. Oh, but what a change of luck in the bottom of the third as Falcons running back Jason Snelling lost the ball as he was brought down to the ground and a Saints player scooped it up. The Falcons have challenged the ruling of recovered fumble and won the challenge. Snelling’s left elbow hit the turf before he lost the ball. The Saints defense kept the running game from going anywhere. The Falcons would go for a twenty-three yard field goal. Atlanta 17 and New Orleans 14.
The Saints got luckier when an incidental ball-touch on Falcons DeCoud’s left foot resulted in a ricochet that enabled New Orleans to stay on offense. How would the Falcons defense respond? Not too well since Lance Moore eventually ran the ball into the end zone. He then proceeded to do a celebratory dance involving foot kicks and arm waves a la clogging meets breakdancing. New Orleans 21 and Atlanta 17.
The Falcons fought to close the score gap in the fourth quarter when they were on offense again. Wide receiver Roddy White put his team on top of the board with a TD catch. Atlanta 24 and New Orleans 21. The score remained the same through to the two-minute warning. The Saints were on offense with under a minute left to on the clock. Would they go for a field goal to tie the game? Would they try to go for the end zone? Saints kicker Garrett Hartley ended up tying the game with a thirty-two yard field goal.
Atlanta won the coin toss in overtime. The first three plays didn’t help the Falcons on offense. Would their defense fare better? Not much better. Thanks to a complete pass to Lance Moore, the Saints got down the field far enough so that even if they don’t get into the end zone, they’d still have a FG try. And field goal they went. Garrett Hartley missed the twenty-nine yard field goal! It went wide left. Would the Falcons make their fans proud? Specifically, would kicker Matt Bryant put the forty-six yard FG through the uprights? YES!!! SWEET GRANNY SMITH APPLES!!!! Atlanta 27 and New Orleans 24. Final score.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. Brian Billick and Thom Brennaman provided commentary.
2. The Saints wore white jerseys, the Falcons red.
3. After Matt Bryant put the extra point on the board following the Falcons’ first TD in the first quarter, Matt Ryan (sans helmet) got a medium close-up screaming “lets go” and “yeah!”. It was in slow-motion. He might have fist-pumped the left side of his chest.
4. Thomas Decoud’s intercepting of Drew Brees resulted in a Falcons TD. Atlanta had the ball for eleven game-play minutes.
5. Awww, a few nuns attended the game in support of the Saints.
6. The Falcons spent their last OT time-out with four minutes left. Matt Ryan got into the faces of his offense teammates. He probably demanded that his guys ‘finish this thing.’
6. Did the Saints use a time-out after running back Pierre Thomas couldn’t get off the field after catching a pass in the bottom of the fourth?
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