Falcons focused on rebounding against streaking Saints

The Saints have the Falcons full attention.

After suffering a devastating loss to the Dallas Cowboys as time expired on Sunday, the Falcons were back at practice to get ready for the streaking New Orleans Saints, who have won nine games in a row.

“We’ll be ready,” defensive end Vic Beasley said, while heading to the parking lot late Monday evening.

The Falcons (4-6) play the Saints (9-1) at 8:20 p.m. Thursday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Falcons are 1-1 all-time in games on Thanksgiving. 

Because of the short week, there was no time for the Falcons to wallow in misery over the loss to Dallas.

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“I mean your work week is obviously condensed,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “For me, I got back to work like it was a Wednesday and jumped ahead. Having done this so many times throughout my career I’m comfortable in it, I think the biggest thing is getting our young guys to understand what it takes to get themselves prepared and ready to play on the short week.”

Ryan believes the team will not have a hangover from the tough loss to Dallas, which reduced the Falcons’ playoff chance to between 6 to 9 percent.

“We’ll be prepared and ready to go,” Ryan said. 

The Saints beat the Falcons 43-37 in overtime on Sept. 23. After dropping the season opener, the Saints have been unstoppable.

The Saints plastered the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles 48-7 on Sunday and have scored 40 points of more in 6 of 10 games.

The running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has been potent. Against the Eagles, Ingram and Kamara combined for 211 yards and three touchdowns.

In the first game against the Falcons, Kamara rushed 16 times for 66 yards. He was targeted 20 times and caught 15 passes for 124 yards. 

“He gives them balance and the ability to run between the tackles,” defensive coordinator Marquand Maneul said of Ingram. “Not that Kamara doesn’t, but he gives them balance and the ability to pound the defense. Kamara is an elusive guy.”

Falcons rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley had three touchdowns against the Saints, but has just one touchdown reception over the past six games. 

“Our offense is built that we have so many weapons that the ball is going to find different guys depending on the week,” Ryan said. “They all understand that, that the matchups are going to dictate where we go. I think he’s done a great job.

Ridley had a bad bobbled pass against the Cowboys that led to an interception. He was a little rattled after the game while talking to the media.

“I think mentally he’s at a great place,” Ryan said. “There’s ups and downs through every season for all of us, and I think he’s handled that really well. I expect him to play well and he’s going to continue to play well as we move through the remainder of the year.”

The Saints defense has improved over this massive winning streak.

“Their front-seven is doing a nice job creating good push both in the run game and in the pass game,” Ryan said. “Then obviously they’ve been very explosive on the other side of the ball, so teams have been playing behind and have gotten into more passing situations. They just look like they’re playing with confidence and playing well. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

Left defensive end Cameron Jordan had two sacks as the Saints harassed Ryan in the previous meeting. The Saints had three sacks and six quarterback hits. 

The Falcons were held to four field goals and a touchdown against the Cowboys. The Saints lead the league in scoring at 37.8 points per game.

The Falcons can’t beat the Saints by kicking another bushel of field goals. 

“The job for us is to score every time we get into the red zone that’s no different than any other week in terms of our mindset as an offense,” Ryan said. “When we get our chances, we have to convert and we’ve been doing a good job of that for most of the year.”

Ryan said the offense will stay aggressive against the Saints. 

“We missed one opportunity of that this weekend and I thought that we could have used, but it’s the same mindset every week, we have to be aggressive and make our plays when we get our chances,” Ryan said. 

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