Saints defense dominates in 24-9 win over Falcons

Saints defense dominates in 24-9 win over Falcons
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) and defensive end Marcus Davenport, musing the Flacons out of field goal range, in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) (Source: Butch Dill)

NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - The New Orleans Saints hosted division rival, the Atlanta Falcons, in the Superdome on Sunday, Nov. 22, and came away with their seventh straight win of the season.

The Saints (8-2) dominated on defense in a 24-9 win over the Falcons (3-7). The defense sacked Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan eight times and intercepted him twice. It did not surrender a touchdown.

Taysom Hill started in place of injured quarterback Drew Brees. In his first NFL start at quarterback, Hill was 18-of-23 for 233 passing yards. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 10 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Hill joined Daunte Culpepper as the only players in the Super Bowl era with 40 or more rushing yards and two or more rushing touchdowns in their first quarterback start. Culpepper did it with the Vikings in a win against the Bears in Week 1 of the 2000 season.

Saints now have won seven in a row. Derick E. Hingle/New Orleans Saints Pool Photo
Saints now have won seven in a row. Derick E. Hingle/New Orleans Saints Pool Photo (Source: Derick E. Hingle)

RELATED STORIES:

Hill’s main target to throw to was Michael Thomas, who finished with nine catches for 104 yards. He broke the record held by former LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry for most career catches by an NFL player in his first five seasons. Landry’s record was 481 catches in 80 games. Thomas set the new record on his second catch of the day and now has 489 receptions in just 67 games.

Alvin Kamara had 13 carries for 45 yards and one touchdown. It was career touchdown No. 50 for Kamara and team-high No. 12 for the season. Kamara is the first player in NFL history to begin his career with four straight seasons of at least 500 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards. Latavius Murray had 12 carries for 49 yards.

Defensively, linebacker Demario Davis had seven tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one pass defended, and two hits on the quarterback. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins had five tackles, five passes defended, and an interception.

Defensive end Cam Jordan had four tackles, three sacks, three tackles for loss, and three hits on the quarterback. He now has seven sacks in his last two meetings against Atlanta and has sacked Ryan 21 times for his career. He also has four career games with at least three sacks and three of those have been against the Falcons.

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson and defensive tackle David Onyemata each had a pair of sacks. Hendrickson leads the team with 9.5 sacks so far this season. Safety Marcus Williams had the other interception. The Falcons were only 2-of-14 on third down and gained only 248 total yards, including just 52 on the ground.

The Falcons got on the board first on a 28-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo to give Atlanta the 3-0 lead. New Orleans later tied the game, 3-3, late in the first quarter on a 22-yard field goal by Wil Lutz. Two more field goals by Koo, a 51-yarder and 52-yarder, gave the Falcons the 9-3 lead with 4:31 remaining in the second quarter.

Then, Hill found Emmanuel Sanders for a big 44-yard gain. The play set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Kamara to give the Saints their first lead, 10-9, with 1:46 left in the first half. They would never trail again.

In the third quarter, Hill led the Saints on a nice drive that included a checkdown to Murray that gained 25 yards. Then, Murray took a handoff right up the middle for another huge gain that gave the Saints the ball at the Atlanta 10-yard line. On fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, it was “Taysom Time.” Hill kept it on a design quarterback run for the touchdown to extend the lead to 17-9 with 9:11 remaining in the quarter. On the drive, Hill was 4-of-5 passing for 54 yards.

Later, Hill would have had his first passing touchdown of the game but a holding call negated a 57-yard scoring toss to Sanders. Instead, the drive ended and the Saints had to punt. However, in the fourth quarter, Hill scored on another run and showed off his speed to do it. He beat former LSU linebacker Deion Jones to the pylon on a 10-yard touchdown run that put the Saints up 24-9. Jones finished with six tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and two hits on the quarterback.

Former LSU wide receiver Russell Gage was Atlanta’s second-leading receiver on the day. He hauled in seven catches for 58 yards.

The Saints next travel to Denver to face the Broncos on Sunday, Nov. 29. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. The game will air on FOX.

Click here to report a typo.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.