It was wild and dramatic. The Falcons evened their record to 4-4, their fourth win in the past six games, with a 27-25 road victory over the Saints in New Orleans Sunday.
Of course, it wasn’t easy. The Falcons held an 18-point lead before allowing the Saints three straight fourth-quarter touchdowns to take a brief lead. Younghoe Koo won it for the Falcons, his third game-winning kick this season, with a 29-yard field goal as time expired. Here are the highlights:
Play of the game: The Saints completed a dramatic comeback with three touchdowns in less than seven minutes. They took a 25-24 lead when Kenny Stills caught an 8-yard touchdown from Trevor Siemian with 1:01 remaining. Cue the Matt Ryan fourth-quarter comeback stats. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Ryan found Cordarrelle Patterson for a 64-yard completion, putting the ball on the 11-yard line with 51 seconds remaining. It was a matter of running out the clock, despite a Mike Davis near fumble, before the game-winning field goal.
Offensive game ball: Ryan. The Falcons quarterback completed his 41st fourth-quarter comeback as the Falcons took back a win of a game they led handily minutes earlier. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 343 yards, none bigger than the 64-yarder to Patterson, and two touchdowns. Ryan also rushed for a score.
Defensive game ball: James Vaughters. The Falcons linebacker had a strip sack of Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian in the fourth quarter. Stephen Means scooped up the ball and took it to the 6-yard line. On the first offensive play, Ryan found Olamide Zaccheaus for a touchdown, his second scoring catch, that put the Falcons up 24-6 with 10:40 remaining. The turnover was the only one for the Falcons defense on the day.
Key stat: The Saints lost by two points. They went for and failed to convert twice on two-point conversions on each of their last two touchdowns. The failed attempts and missed points allowed the Falcons the opportunity for a game-winning field goal.
Biggest takeaway: These are the victories the Falcons need. Yes, the Saints lost Jameis Winston. Yes, the Saints lost Michael Thomas. Yes, they blew an 18-point lead. But in the end, they went into a hostile environment in New Orleans and got the job done - even if it was nerve-wracking, ugly and penalty-filled.
They said it: “I was excited. We needed to make a play. We needed to win that game. I’m proud of the guys for getting the job done.” – Ryan on last-second comeback
Next up: The Falcons travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution