New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons: Live Grades and Analysis for New Orleans

James Ermilio@jimmyermilioCorrespondent IIINovember 22, 2013

Will Brees and the Saints be victorious again?
Will Brees and the Saints be victorious again?John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It's over in New Orleans following a scoreless fourth quarter.  New Orleans moves to 9-2 with a win over the Falcons.

Final Score:

New Orleans Saints - 17

Atlanta Falcons - 13

Check below for halftime and postgame grades and analysis!

New Orleans Saints Game Grades
Positional UnitHalftime GradesPostgame Grades
Pass OffenseA-B
Run OffenseBB+
Pass DefenseB-B
Run DefenseB-B
Special TeamsCB
Bleacher Report

Postgame Analysis for the New Orleans Saints

Pass Offense: Drew Brees completed nine of 14 passes in a quiet second half during which three points were scored by both teams combined.  Jimmy Graham led the way with 100 yards even on five catches as the Saints did just enough to beat the Falcons.  Brees was sacked just once and stayed interception-free.

Run Offense:  This was a nice game from a Saints rushing offense that is emerging as a viable contributor to a well-rounded team. Pierre Thomas led the way with 73 yards on 10 impressive carries, while Mark Ingram chipped in with 32 yards of his own to help put the Saints over the century mark in rushing yards and wind down the clock on the Saints' final drive.

Pass Defense:  The numbers don't speak to an elite pass defense: New Orleans allowed a 74 percent completion rate and 297 yards to Matt Ryan's depleted offense.  But a ferocious pass rush (five sacks) had Ryan on the run all night.  He never really looked comfortable in the pocket and was sacked a few times during drives on which the Falcons appeared to be gaining momentum. Akeem Hicks and Cameron Jordan combined for four sacks.  

Run Defense: The Saints contained Steven Jackson (63 yards on 3.9 YPC, 1 TD) and held the Falcons to just 91 rushing yards on 4.1 YPC.  The Saints are starting to run the ball and stop the run effectively, which, coupled with their passing attack, makes them a dangerous team.

Special Teams:  The most notable special teams play came when Sean Payton iced Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant, who had made a 52-yard FG that was discounted by the timeout.  When he missed his second attempt, the Saints merely had to eat clock, which they did with ease on their final drive.

Coaching: Payton's ice-the-kicker timeout worked to perfection, Rob Ryan's defense swarmed Matt Ryan and disrupted the Falcons' timing and the offense played turnover-free football. The Falcons' record be darned, New Orleans has cemented itself among the league's best teams with a tough road win on Thursday Night Football.

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 21: Tight end Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates a touchdown in the second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Georgia Dome on November 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Ge
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images


Halftime Analysis for the New Orleans Saints

Pass Offense: It's a testament to Drew Brees' talent level that this felt like a relatively pedestrian first half for him.  After all, he completed 74 percent of his passes for two touchdowns at an 8.2 YPA clip, numbers that any QB in the league would love.  Brees missed a few targets in the half and was nearly picked off in the end zone, but overall, the Saints passing offense was efficient and protected the ball (and their QB—zero sacks) well.

Run Offense: Surprisingly, the Saints have come up with a strong half of running the football for the second week in a row.  Pierre Thomas led the way with 32 yards thanks in large part to an 18-yard burst on the Saints' final drive. Mark Ingram also had a few nice runs as the Saints finished the half with a 5.3 YPC clip on the ground.

Pass Defense:  The Saints defense bent but didn't break in the half, allowing a 74 percent completion rate and 156 yards to Matt Ryan but limiting the Falcons to a pair of field goals and one rushing TD.  Darius Johnson (65 yards) has come from nowhere to pose a problem for the Saints.

Run Defense: Not a bad performance by the Saints' front seven. Though they yielded a 3rd-and-1 TD to Steven Jackson, the Saints have allowed just a 4.2 YPC clip to a talented RB corps for Atlanta.  The rush defense has trended upward for Atlanta in recent weeks.

Special Teams: Thomas Morstead (54.5 YPP average) is booming punts, but there isn't much of note on special teams so far.

Coaching:  The need to burn a timeout early in the half wound up costing the Saints a field goal on their final drive, but the Saints have played turnover-free football and have committed just two penalties in the half.  


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