Week 14 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 17, Atlanta Falcons 36
What you need to know
The Saints appeared able to hang with the Falcons through the first half of the game. When the Falcons would score, the Saints would respond. Both the scoreboard and the stat line supported this assumption at halftime. Then the wheels came off. The Saints didnít score again, and were completely shut down in the second half, leading to another lopsided defeat.
Quarterback Aaron Brooks managed the game effectively in the first half, and led his team on two sustained scoring drives. Through an Antowain Smith touchdown after a Michael Vick interception, the Saints definitely were in the game. But as the second half started and Atlanta continued to score, the Saints were forced to abandon the balance offensive attack that worked well in the first half.
Brooks ended up with a so-so game, throwing a score to Az-zahir Hakim, but only managed 219 yards on 27 of 46 passing. Smith was great early on, but was limited to only one rush in the second half. No receiver had more than five catches or 55 yards.
Vick led his team to a crucial victory, despite having another inaccurate passing performance. Vick threw a score to Roddy White on a flea flicker type play, and ran for two other scores. He left late in the game with bruised ribs, but it didnít appear too serious. The rushing attack wasnít quite as potent as usual, although Warrick Dunn finished with over 70 yards and T.J. Duckett got a goal line score. Tight end Alge Crumpler had three big catches, gaining over 90 yards total.
The defense was impressive, particularly in shutting down the Saints in the second half. The pass rush sacked Brooks three times. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall had a great game, forcing and recovering a fumble (actually stripping the ball from Joe Horn) and intercepting a Brooksí pass that was overruled by penalty.
The real difference in the game came at halftime, as the Falcons decided to keep scoring in the second half, while the Saints couldnít sniff the end zone. Michael Vick and the Falcons defense combined for a much needed victory
What you ought to know
|QB Aaron Brooks, Pass: 27 - 46 - 219 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 24 - 0|
Brooks continued his recent trend of below average play. He looked solid enough in the first half, leading his team on two sustained scoring drives. The second half was a different story. The Saints' offense was completely shut down, and the focus of their attack became the passing game with Atlanta consistently increasing its lead. Brooks threw the ball 46 times, but no one receiver caught more than five passes. His only touchdown toss came in the second quarter, and went to third receiver Az-zahir Hakim. Though the stat line says otherwise, Brooks was picked off in the first half by DeAngelo Hall, but the play was reversed on a roughing the passer penalty.
Smith was the primary ball carrier for the Saints. Trailing big late in the game hurt his totals, but he did well with the chances he got. His six yard score came on the first play after a Michael Vick interception. His big play came on a 22 yard scamper in the first half. He only had one rushing attempt in the second half, although he was targeted a few times in the passing game.
Stecker was an adequate companion to Smith in the running game, averaging five yards per carry over his seven rushes. He was interspersed with Antowain Smith in the first half, and also suffered a loss of touches in the second half. He was used in the return game as well.
Thomas only got a few touches in the game. His most successful, a 16 yard dash, was called back on an offensive holding penalty.
Karney got one rush in a short yardage situation. He plunged up the middle and picked up a first down.
|WR Joe Horn, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (10 targets)|
Horn was the second most targeted receiver in the game, and led the team in receiving yards. His first play was an inauspicious one, as defender DeAngelo Hall literally ripped the ball out of his hands for a turnover.
Stallworth was Aaron Brooksí favorite target. He converted five of those targets into catches, for short gains.
Hakim caught all four balls thrown his way, including a second quarter nine yard touchdown.
Hendersonís only reception came late in the game.
Hilton was the primary tight end receiving option in the game.
Hall caught both of his targets, making his best receiving performance of the season.
Carney made good on his 47 yard field goal attempt and his both of his PATs.
The Saintsí rush defense wasnít particularly good or bad. They didnít allow the vaunted Falconsí rushing attack to explode for a huge game, but they also didnít shut them down. They allowed three rushing scores, two to scrambling quarterback Michael Vick, and the other to T.J. Duckett in a goal line situation. No Falconsí rusher gained over 75 yards, but altogether the Saints allowed over 100 yards on the great.
The pass defense only allowed Atlanta quarterbacks Michael Vick and Matt Schaub to barely complete more than half their passing attempts. The touchdown came on a trick play where Warrick Dunn lined up in the shotgun as the quarterback, then handed off to Vick, who then tossed up a deep ball to Roddy White. Despite having two defenders surrounding him, the Saints managed to let him both catch it and run it in for a score. It was a sad play where the defenders knocked each other down, giving White a touchdown. The pass rush did not sack Vick a single time. They did manage to tip a ball that was intercepted. It set up Antowain Smithís score on the next play.
|QB Michael Vick, Pass: 12 - 23 - 231 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 38 - 2|
Vick had a very standard, Vick-type game: He was highly inaccurate passing, but he scrambled for several yards (including two scores), and the Falcons won the game. He touchdown toss came on a trick play where he lined up in the slot and Dunn tossed him the ball. He threw up a pray that was answered by Roddy White and run in for a score. Vick was pummeled throughout the game, often getting up slowly after a hit. After a particularly brutal hit in the fourth quarter, he was replaced by backup Matt Schaub. He went to the locker room to get checked out, but it was just some bruised ribs, and he should be good to go for Week 15.
|QB Matt Schaub, Pass: 1 - 2 - 48 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0|
Schaub handled field goal holding duties, and then was summoned into the game after Vick went down hard in the fourth quarter. Schaub mostly handed the ball off, as the game was winding down and the Falcons had already sealed their victory. He did have one pass completion, a 48 yard hook up with tight end Alge Crumpler. He also showed scrambled for a ten yard gain.
|RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 14 - 73 - 0, Rec: 2 - 39 - 0 (3 targets)|
Dunn once again showed his versatility, leading the team in rushing and finishing third in receiving yards. He had long runs of 26 and 14 yards, and long receptions of 24 and 15. He has several rushes late in the game, as the Falcons successfully killed the clock.
Duckett was truly the short yardage back, averaging only 1.3 yards a carry over his ten rushes. He scored the first touchdown of the game, from one yard out.
Griffith was only targeted in the passing game, as an option out of the backfield.
|WR Roddy White, Rush: 1 - -7 - 0, Rec: 2 - 65 - 1 (5 targets)|
White made an exceptional catch between two defenders that he ran in for a score. He was used in the running game on an end around, but lost seven yards.
All of Jenkins' looks came on a short stretch in the second quarter.
Finneran made a fantastic 36 yard grab along the sideline. He was also targeted in the end zone, but the ball was knocked out of his hands.
Crumpler was again a favored target in the passing game. He finished with three receptions that averaged over 30 yards apiece. He was the only receiver to catch a ball from both Vick and Schaub.
Peterson made both of his late field goals, of 43 and 20 yards each. He was also perfect on all four of his PATs.
The rush defense was soft in the first half, giving up over 100 yards in just 30 minutes. They tightened up considerably in the second half, thanks in large part to the Saints abandoning the run in hopes of making a comeback. The only score surrendered was a direct result of a Michael Vick interception.
The pass defense was great; especially considering Brooks threw 46 balls but only ended up with 219 yards. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was particularly impressive. He stripped Joe Horn of the ball early in the game, had an interception overturned by a roughing the passer penalty, and made several big hits. The pass rush sacked Brooks three times. The only score allowed was a nine yard pass to Az-zahir Hakim in the first half.