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Early Bird Report: What we learned from Falcons' loss to Saints

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The Falcons were building momentum with three wins in four games under interim head coach Raheem Morris, but that came to an end on Sunday with a 24-9 loss to the Saints.

It was a game in which Matt Ryan was sacked eight times and the defense, after holding strong in the first half, gave up two second-half touchdowns that proved to be the difference. The Falcons had their worst offensive performance of the season against New Orleans, which was a standout point for writer Kevin Patra in his recap of the game.

"Life without a healthy Julio Jones is difficult," Patra writes. "The star receiver was in and out of the game Sunday while dealing with a hamstring injury. Jones played only 21 snaps, per Next Gen Stats, just five in the second half. Missing Julio was part of the reason the Falcons offense struggled. Without the field-tilting receiver, New Orleans was able to toss coverage at Calvin Ridley and make Ryan hold the ball longer. Unable to score a TD or hold down Hill, there wasn't much good for Atlanta to take from Sunday's game, particularly in the second half. Losing to a backup QB in his first NFL start at the position is a tough one to swallow for a division rival."

Falcons' hope for late-season surge buried by Saints

Without Julio Jones in the lineup, the Falcons had difficulty moving the ball against an aggressive Saints defense. They managed just 248 yards, their fewest of the season, and couldn't find the end zone in an important division game. Following a 3-1 start under Morris, there had been some slight hope building that the Falcons could make something of the 2020 season after all. In a piece for ESPN, Nick Wagoner asserts that any chance of that happening has been put to rest.

"On Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, that hope was buried under an avalanche of sacks as the Falcons surrendered 21 unanswered points on the way to a 24-9 loss," Wagoner writes. "The defeat drops the Falcons to 3-7 on the season and for all intents and purposes puts any pie-in-the-sky dreams of a postseason run under interim coach Raheem Morris to rest."

5 things we learned from Falcons' 24-9 loss to Saints

Every game in the NFL provides some lessons about the two teams on the field. Sunday's loss to the Saints was an important reminder for the Falcons about the importance of getting open downfield and providing Matt Ryan with time to find those receivers. The Saints' eight sacks on Sunday were the most Atlanta allowed against an opposing team since the last time it played New Orleans, when the Falcons allowed nine sacks on Thanksgiving Day in 2019. D. Orlando Ledbetter mentioned the pass protection in his five things piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"We didn't play well," left tackle Jake Matthews said after the game. "That's completely out there. We have to regroup and watch the film. We felt like we had a solid plan going in. Obviously, we didn't execute. The numbers speak for themselves."

NFL Week 11 grades

With the type of performance they had on Sunday, the Falcons weren't exactly in line to receive high marks. In John Breech's post-weekend grades piece for, they didn't. Breech gave the Falcons a "D" for their loss against the Saints, who were given an "A-" in their win.

"Coming off a bye, the Falcons had an extra week to prepare for this game, but apparently they didn't take advantage of that," Breech writes. "With Drew Brees out, Taysom Hill gave the Falcons defense fits as he rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Offensively, although the Falcons moved the ball well in the first half, they couldn't punch the ball in the end zone. In the second half, Matt Ryan and the offense went ice cold as the Falcons weren't able to cross into Saints territory a single time until there was under six minutes left in the game. Ryan got sacked eight times and rarely had time to throw, and that showed, as he threw two interceptions while completing just 51.4% of his passes."

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