The Atlanta Falcons were gunning for their sixth win of the year on Thursday, a win that would have matched their total from all of last season. Instead, they fell behind 14-0 to the Saints, had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, and lost three fumbles.
It all amounted to a 31-21 loss at the Superdome.
Was this loss about the Falcons’ flaws being exposed, or was it more about the Saints (2-4) getting it done against a divisional rival at home in prime time?
“Well, it’s a mixture of both,” That Other Pregame Show host Bart Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I think the Saints are comfortable and confident in their approach whenever they go against the Falcons, regardless of whoever the head coach is. But also I think the Falcons have been playing with fire for a while with these fourth-quarter comebacks.”
The Falcons won three of their fives games by six points or fewer.
“Some games, you can’t depend on that,” Scott said. “You got to take care of business, take care of the football, play disciplined, get off to fast starts and you can’t turn the ball over. You sure enough can’t give up special-teams touchdowns. That’s a clear indication that you have a very unlikely chance to win the football game.”
The Falcons moved the ball fairly well throughout the game, out-gaining New Orleans 413-385, but they had countless miscues in Saints territory.
Gregg Giannotti and Brian Jones, it is worth noting, are still buying what the Falcons are selling. Plus, it’s tough to win on the road after just three days of rest, especially when one of those days is a travel day.
“Well, let’s go back to why we even have Thursday Night Football,” Scott said. “The reasons we have Thursday Night Football was because college was really controlling the ratings and the NFL looked and said, ‘Oh, somebody else is getting ratings. Let’s go and take that.’ They wanted to make sure they could try and get more prime-time games on that evening. It’s not so much they care about the preparation or that they care about the players being able to recover. It’s because they want to take are of a spot that was (being dominated) – primarily by West Virginia and those types of schools – playing on Thursday. (Schools from) the MAC conference (were) getting ratings.”
The NFL realized it could, too.
Still, that doesn’t make it any easier for the players – you know, the ones actually playing the games.
“It’s tough,” Scott said. “In most of these match-ups, if the teams are evenly matched, you’re going to see the home team winning because they have to do less travel, which is tough on the body. They get an extra day to really hone in and it’s just difficult. But I understand why they did it. Now that I’m on the other side, I especially understand that it’s all about trying to create more money in the pocket.”