With a minute left to go in the Falcons week nine contest against the Saints, the Falcons were in a familiar position – down late in the fourth quarter and in need of a game-winning drive from Matt Ryan.
But this game was different.
Not only because it was against the Falcons' biggest rival in the Saints, but another divisional loss would make the Falcons 0-3 in the NFC South and push their playoff hopes further away. And this time, the Falcons lost an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter and were down 25-24 with just over a minute remaining.
As Matt Ryan dropped back at the Falcons 20-yard-line, he quickly looked to his right to find the player who has been the Falcons' most consistent threat all season, Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson planted his left foot faking out Saints defensive back Paulson Adebo, used his track speed to sprint by Adebo, and caught a perfectly placed ball from Ryan. Patterson tip-toed down the sidelines and moved upfield, gaining 64-yards before being forced out of bounds.
"It was a great play by CP," Ryan said. "You know the call we had on had multiple options across the board, but it's always gonna be man-to-man coverage with an opportunity for him on the sideline. He ran a great route, made a really good catch, and so as he's done the whole year, you know at different times he stepped up and made a huge play for us."
The catch set up a 29-yard field goal for Younghoe Koo, which silenced the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans and gave the Falcons a 27-25 win over the Saints.
Just three quarters before, the Falcons ran the same play to Patterson, and it worked. The routes placed side by side are almost identical. It was a third and nine; Patterson planted his left foot in the ground, blew by linebacker Kwon Alexander and reeled in a pass for 34 yards.
Arthur Smith often asks Matt Ryan if he likes the play call he gives him, so when Ryan heard this call, he was all for it.
"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Ryan said. "Just keep going back to the same thing."
And when Patterson found out they were calling the play; his mindset was simple – get open.
"I think I had 29, a rookie on me, just don't let him get a hand on me so I can get open just get where Matt can see me," Patterson said of his thought process during the play. "We ran that play, and coach said we gone come right back to it, so we did."
Patterson finished the game with six catches for 126 yards and 10 yards on the ground. Patterson's 126 yards were the second-most by a Falcons player this season, only to Kyle Pitts' 163 yards against the New York Jets. This game was also Patterson's most receiving yards in a game since his rookie season in Minnesota when he had 141 yards.
With 136 yards from scrimmage in the win, Patterson's total is at 737 this season, the most he has had in his career, and the Falcons still have nine games left to play. As Patterson continues his career year, his focus is on the team, and he knows they have to do a better job finishing games.
"We just gotta stop giving people heart attacks, man," Patterson said with a laugh. "We gotta go out and just finish it, you know? We was up 18. There's no way we shouldn't go out there and just finish it. Stuff happens; it's the NFL. We just gotta do better next week."
Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast
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Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.