Atlanta – There were notable individual performances for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in a 24-15 loss to the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Just not enough of them to keep the Saints (5-6) alone in first place in the NFC South Division.
OFFENSE: It would have been fantastic to see what receiver Chris Olavemight have been able to do if he hadn't been forced to leave the game with a concussion in the third quarter. Even with that, he had game highs in receptions (seven) and receiving yards (114), and caught a 51-yarder in the first half that is his longest catch of the season. The Saints desperately needed his presence in the second half, because once he left the field – shortly after receiver Rashid Shaheed exited with a thigh injury – New Orleans was severely short-handed at receiver. But Olave was outstanding during the time he was on the field, possibly headed for a career day.
DEFENSE: The Saints' defense didn't have much to brag about Sunday, after allowing 228 rushing yards. But safety Tyrann Mathieudid all he could to help lead the team to a win. His first-half interception at the 1-yard line kept the Falcons off the scoreboard and prevented the Saints from falling into a deeper hole at halftime, and his third-quarter interception and 18-yard return to the Saints' 46-yard line also assured that the Falcons wouldn't score on that possession. Mathieu has three interceptions this season, second most on the team, and each has been impactful.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Frankly, Blake Grupe has owned this category too many times this season. But he was five of six on field-goal attempts, including a 52-yarder, and his only unsuccessful try came from 54 yards. The Saints have leaned heavily on the rookie and Sunday, he delivered. But his production and usage Sunday, as it has been most of the season, is a concern because it mainly has signified that the offense hasn't been able to reach the end zone. Three points are nice, but seven always has been preferable.