ATLANTA -- Three touchdown drives in the second half and another one in overtime helped the Saints come back and beat the Falcons, 43-37, in another classic showing between these two teams on Sunday afternoon in Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Calvin Ridley puts on a show
Calvin Ridley had a strong Mercedes-Benz Stadium debut against the Panthers in Week 2, but he put that debut to shame against the Saints.
Ridley caught both touchdowns for the Falcons in the first half against the Saints, including a 75-yard bomb from Matt Ryan in the second quarter that gave Atlanta a 14-13 lead. In the third quarter, Ridley caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Ryan, becoming the first rookie in Falcons history with three touchdown catches in a single game.
"I though Calvin played really well," Ryan said after the game. "He stepped up when he got an opportunity to. It was clear that, from the start, the game plan was going to be have two guys to account for Julio [Jones] and a safety coming down from the opposite side to account for where Mohamed [Sanu] was at. And that leaves Calvin singled up in one-on-one coverage. I thought [Steve Sarkisian] did a great job of taking advantage of that, calling plays to get him shots down the field."
Ryan becomes leader in TD passes vs. Saints
Ridley wasn’t the only Falcons player setting records on Sunday. On his 75-yard touchdown pass to Ridley, Ryan passed Joe Montana as the all-time leader in touchdown passes against the Saints. Ryan finished Sunday's game with 374 passing yards and tied a franchise record with five touchdown passes.
"It's about wins and losses," Ryan said of his five-touchdown performance. "I guess as I get older I realize that, too. It's not about you, it's about us. What we do as a team. Obviously, it's nice to throw touchdown passes and do all those things, but it's all about winning football games. So we're disappointed we didn't get it done today."
Injuries continue to mount for Falcons
The Falcons entered Sunday's game with several key injuries to deal with, and things didn't get any better against the Saints. As they move forward, the team will have to evaluate every option they have.
“Thomas and I just discussed that, and we’ll continue to discuss that afterwards,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after the game. “We have some other guys with some versatility that we’ll try to plug around. We’ll see what the length of the injuries are. That would certainly make a difference if we went outside to consider looking at anybody else. If it’s shorter term, then likely we would stay inside.”
Saints gain over 500 yards against Falcons defense
The Falcons' defense was without a few key players on Sunday, and they lost a couple more as Foye Oluokun and Ricardo Allen left with injuries late in the game. Defending the Saints' high-powered offense is a tall task for a fully healthy defense, let alone one with several starters missing.
For much of the first three quarters, Atlanta's defense prevented New Orleans from converting yards into points, but that changed in the fourth quarter and in overtime. The Saints scored touchdowns on their final four possessions of the game, discounting their kneel down at the end of regulation, and gained 534 yards of offense against the Falcons.
"Tackling," Quinn said of the main issue on defense Sunday. "I thought coming into the half that was one of the things that we talked about that's got to improve for us. Certainly had some errors and technique things that I know are correctable, but that doesn't take the sting away from it."
Falcons offense puts on a show
Sunday was full of offensive fireworks, and the Falcons continued their improvement on that side of the ball. Atlanta was very efficient moving the ball through the air. Ryan completed 74 percent of his pass attempts and averaged 9.4 yards per pass, and he connected with three different players for touchdowns.
With the level of success they had throwing the ball the Falcons didn't have to lean on their run game too often, but the Saints allowed just 2.2 yards per carry. Atlanta's perfection in the red zone from last week carried over to this week, as the Falcons were again 4 for 4 inside of the 20-yard line.
Below, you can find out live blog from today's game with more insights and analysis of the action.