Some weeks, entire units for the New Orleans Saints deserve praise for their outstanding play.
Sunday, in the 26-9 loss to Atlanta in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, there weren't many compliments to let fly.
The Saints had a day to forget in their first home loss of the season, an outcome that snapped their six-game losing streak and began a streak of four consecutive games against NFC South Division opponents. Still, though, we were able to find a couple of noteworthy showings.
OFFENSE: The Saints scored nine points, totaled 310 yards, went a combined 3 of 15 on third- and fourth-down attempts and allowed six sacks. But receiver Michael Thomas continued his assault on the NFL record books. His 13 catches for 152 yards pushed him past 400 career receptions; he caught 400 passes faster (56 games) than anyone else in NFL history. Also, with 86 catches through nine games, he's on pace for 153 this season, which is 10 more than the NFL single-season record. He's as reliable as there is in the NFL.
DEFENSE: New Orleans allowed too many third-down conversions (6 of 15) and committed too many defensive penalties. But linebacker Demario Davis was a wrecking crew all by himself. His one-armed sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, on third-and-2 from the Saints' 10-yard line with 1:42 left in the first half, ensured that the Falcons would have to settle for a field goal. It was successful, and Atlanta led 13-3, but the stop helped keep New Orleans' hopes alive. Davis finished with a game-high 11 tackles (three for loss), two quarterback hits, a pass defensed and the sack. He's an every-down player who produces in most situations.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Deonte Harris keeps showing how much of a threat he is as a returner. He had a 19-yard punt return and a 46-yard kickoff return and every time he fields one, he's a threat to take it all the way. Wil Lutz made all three field goals to leave behind the little funk that had seeped in (he'd missed three of his previous six), but Harris supplied some juice, and good field position, that the Saints didn't fully take advantage of.