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John DeShazier's Turning Point from Saints loss to Falcons

Posted Dec 8, 2017

Great play by Atlanta linebacker ended Saints chance at victory

The first 34 pass attempts, there probably isn’t much Drew Brees would change.

But the 35th was one in which he admitted was ill-advised, a risk that could and should have been avoided, a mistake that likely took points off the board when the New Orleans Saints had positioned themselves to win a tough road game against Atlanta or, perhaps, force it into overtime.

The Saints’ offense didn’t smoothly operate for much of New Orleans’ Thursday night, nationally televised game against the Falcons in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But for its final drive, with New Orleans trailing by three points and beginning a drive at its own 20 with 3:44 left, it found a rhythm that had been absent for much of the evening.

The Saints reached Atlanta’s 24-yard line in four plays and remained there for two snaps, before Brees converted a fourth-and-1 with a 2-yard dive off right guard.

An 11-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr. put the Saints at first-and-10 from the 11, and a completion for no gain to Willie Snead IV had New Orleans facing second-and-10 with 90 seconds remaining.

But there, Brees made the attempt he would wish he hadn’t. He tried to find tight end Josh Hill down the middle in the end zone, but the height of the pass didn’t clear Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. Jones leapt high, plucked the pass with both hands and landed flat on his back, right in front of Hill, to end the Saints’ drive and their final scoring threat.

From there, and with the assistance of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed to the Saints’ sideline – Coach Sean Payton said afterward that he should have done a better job maintaining his calm – Atlanta was able to run out the clock and post its 20-17 victory.