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Grade: C (Special Teams)
Atlanta's special teams coverage units didn't allow the Saints to get much of anything going in the return game, and that helped to make sure the Saints had to drive down a long field for their points.
Falcons punter Matt Bosher averaged 45.3 yards on three punts. Normally it'd be tough to criticize kicker Matt Bryant for missing a 52-yard field goal, but the fact that the Saints were able to "ice" in his own building after he'd made his practice attempt is troubling.
Grade: C+ (Coaching)
Kudos to Mike Smith for having his team ready to play after a short week, but they didn't play well enough to get the job done. Smith just hasn't been able to get the mojo on his team's side this season.
Whether it was William Moore breaking up Desmond Trufant's interception in the end zone, Darius Johnson's fumble or the Falcons inability to protect Matt Ryan, Atlanta showed a national television audience why this team is 2-9 on the season now.
There may be some debate over Smith's decision to attempt a 52-yard field goal with Bryant instead of going for a first down when Atlanta was facing a 4th-and-15 in Saints territory late in the fourth quarter.
Smith addressed his decision to kick a field goal in his postgame press conference (via AtlantaFalcons.com):
“Well, if we would have gotten some yardage on third down, it opens up your playbook. There is not a whole lot of great fourth and fifteen or fourth and fourteen plays. We felt a like field goal and then get an opportunity on the plus side of the two minute with three timeouts, get an opportunity to get the football back and field goal wins the game."
Based on what we saw from Atlanta's offensive line throughout the game, do you think the Falcons had a better shot at converting 4th-and-15 than they did at getting the ball back with time to drive for a field goal?
Other than that decision, Smith will be questioned as to why his offensive stayed with veteran Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle when he was clearly struggling throughout the game. Should Smith have benched Trueblood in favor of Ryan Schraeder or newly acquired Sean Locklear?