New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davissaid the defense had a feeling Atlanta would run the football, and a good inclination of the exact play the Falcons would employ.
He'd seen it earlier in New Orleans' 21-16 victory over Atlanta on Sunday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and because it had been moderately successful, there was reason to believe the Falcons again would dip into the well in the fourth quarter.
This time, though, Davis and his teammates made sure that the Falcons (4-8) came up empty, while the Saints (10-2) moved along to win their ninth straight game.
Atlanta somewhat had seized momentum and, more than taking over momentum, was threatening to take the lead with less than two minutes remaining. After taking possession at their own 15-yard line with 5:09 left, the Falcons drove 72 yards in nine plays and were facing third-and-2 from the Saints' 13-yard line with 1:49 remaining.
That's when the recall of Davis and the defense was applied.
Atlanta opted to run wide left with Todd Gurley as the carrier, but the play was doomed from the beginning. The defensive line's push didn't give Gurley a crease to attack and as he ran parallel, Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson sliced upfield to hit Gurley behind the line of scrimmage.
The running back escaped CJGJ's tackle attempt, but he couldn't get away from Davis. Davis pursued and wrapped up Gurley and when the play was done, he'd taken down Gurley for a 7-yard loss, back at the 20.
On the next play, fourth down, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw incomplete in the end zone for Julio Jones (defensive backs P.J. Williams and Marcus Williams collaborated on the coverage and denial), and that ended Atlanta's best late scoring threat as it turned over the ball on downs.
True, the Falcons still managed to throw another pass into the end zone, a 39-yard touchdown attempt with nine seconds left. But it was a Hail Mary, with a horde of New Orleans defenders in the end zone to bat around the ball before it fell to the turf as time expired.
The Saints left Atlanta having secured a playoff berth and still first in the division (NFC South) and conference standings, and Davis' tackle was a big reason those goals were accomplished.