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Saints vs. Falcons meeting 1: Observations

Drew Brees and Ted Ginn led the charge. Saints.com

Wow! These two teams routinely put on exciting games that often go down to the wire. Today’s 43-37 win by the Saints was no exception. Let’s take a look at some observations from this barn burner:

The Good

-Drew Brees is now the NFL’s career pass completions leader. He did it in typical Brees fashion on a short curl route to Michael Thomas. He ate the Falcons up on the short and intermediate routes as he’s very adept with throwing the ball into pinhole-sized openings for completions. His best play of the game was his game-tying touchdown run with just over a minute left in regulation.

-Saints took advantage of a blocked punt mid way through the third quarter to go ahead 23-21 on a Brees to Cameron Meredith touchdown pass. Creating turnovers and scoring off them has been a recipe for success for the Saints whenever they’ve been contenders. Basic football math: more possessions= more chances= more points.

-The Saints racked up 534 total yards of offense. Sure the Falcons were missing several key defenders, but to take advantage of it with that many yards and 43 points in a back and forth affair was amazing.

The Bad

-With the ball inside the 10 yard line up 10-7, the Saints had to settle for a field goal because of compound penalties. A holding call, followed by a false start pushed them out of the red zone. Seeing tons of teams this year shoot themselves with compound penalties. *(I’m going to poor-man copyright that phrase. No Stealing!)

-The defense continues to give up points and yards at an alarming rate. In fact, 407 yards and 37 points is enough to get you blown out of most games. What happens when this team runs up against the teams with an equally good defense? Shootouts aren’t a recipe for playoff success, much less making the playoffs.

-Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas accounted for 317 of the 534 yards the Saints had. Relying on these two young studs so heavily so early in the season will get them banged up. Mark Ingram can’t come back soon enough. Sure the records are nice, but if this team wants to keep these guys around long term, they’re going to have to spread the ball around more.

The Ugly

-PJ Williams gave up a 75-yard touchdown to Falcons rookie Calvin Ridley a few minutes before the half. He was badly beaten in man coverage deep, the same reason he started in place of Ken Crawley. Ridley burned the Saints for three touchdowns and 147 yards on seven catches.

-Speaking of Williams and Crawley, they’ve both been picked on this season, but so has defending defensive rookie of the year Marshon Lattimore. The Saints secondary was a strength last year and has been their biggest weakness thus far.

-11 penalties for 120 yards showed this team played with poor discipline. Perhaps none was more damming than David Onyemata’s penalty on the Falcons’ field goal attempt that gave them a first down. The Falcons flipped that into a touchdown and two-point conversion giving them a 37-30 lead.

Division rivalry games are always tough. Sometimes, they get a little personal. This rivalry gets very personal. The opposing fan bases get downright nasty with each other (shot out to the Facebook sports group “NFC SOUTH – FYT Trash Talk Petty 24/7”). I’m sure this win by the Saints will do absolutely nothing to change that. Although the Saints are 2-1, they have lots of issues to work out moving forward. They need to count their lucky stars they aren’t 0-3 right now.

 

Plenty of bad but recently some great on the short week game for Texans

Throwback Thursdays: Texans history is so so in Thursday games

Tim Warner/Getty Images

This is a list and a few thoughts from the five Thursday Night Football games where Bill O'Brien has been the head coach for the Texans.

2014: The almost comeback for the ages - Texans lose 33-28

This game sucked early, but then almost sucked a lot less. It still sucked in the end but it had one of J.J. Watt's best plays of his career.

The Colts jumped out to an early lead thanks to a Pat McAfee onside kick and a huge T.Y. Hilton play from Andrew Luck. It was one of the signature Hilton games in his time against the Texans. The Colts would lead 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Arian Foster along with some stellar defense would get the Texans back in the game but it wasn't enough.

This was the first Thursday game under Bill O'Brien and would be right in the middle of a three game losing streak coming off a bad overtime loss to the Cowboys and ahead of a Monday disaster against the Steelers.

2015: Sick Hasselbeck makes Texans fans sicker - Texans lose 27-20

I always describe this game as the one where Matt Hasselbeck was crapping his pants on the sidelines and still beat the Texans. I am not too wrong about this. He was so sick he didn't practice and yet still had enough for the Colts to beat the Texans. He was also 40 years old too by the way.

This one hurt as it was Andre Johnson's return to Houston but he was wearing a Colts uniform. He scored the opening touchdown and it was pretty much the only good game he had for the Colts that season. He also scored what would be the deciding touchdown in this one.

It also marked one of the quarterback indecision moments of Bill O'Brien's tenure. Ryan Mallett took a big hit and asked out of the game and Brian Hoyer returned to the game and played pretty well. He completed a long pass as time expired to Jaelen Strong (remember that name!?) to get the Texans their first touchdown. Trialing by seven Hoyer threw an interception in Colts territory ending the Texans comeback attempt.

2016: Brissett blows out Brock - Texans lose 27-0

This is one of the worst losses of the Bill O'Brien era. The Patriots were down to their third-string quarterback in the midst of a Tom Brady suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo's injury. Enter Jacoby Brissett and the best coach of all-time to torture Brock Osweiler and the Texans. Oh, by the way, Gronk was hurt too I think.

A field goal by New England put the first points on the board and the Texans fumbled the ensuing kickoff which then moments later saw Brissett take a rush 27 yards to the house. The Texans wouldn't get on the Patriots side of the field until there was a couple of minutes left in the third quarter and they were down 20-0.

We should have all known Osweiler stunk when he couldn't score in this game, but it took me a few more weeks before I really jumped off the Brock train.

2017: The first one for the chosen one - Texans win 13-9

Tom Savage was benched and Deshaun Watson's era began. A short week after sitting behind Savage in training camp and then getting thrown to the Jaguars defense in the second half of week one didn't matter to Watson. It was the start of his coming out party.

The defense kicked ass in this game helping Watson get the first win. The big run above was the moment many of us will never forget when it comes to this Thursday night affair.

2018: Welcome Back Brock - Texans win 42-23

Ah yes, the Brock Osweiler revenge game! The Texans had won four straight after a dreadful start to the season and were coming off a physical game with Jacksonville. This was Brock Osweiler's chance for revenge on the team that jettisoned him after the 2016 season.

There would be little revenge. Credit the Dolphins, they kept the game fairly close until Deshaun Watson started cooking in the second half. Four touchdowns in the second half was quite the efficient showing on just 10 pass attempts.

It was a fun Thursday night contest especially given the Texans history on the short week under O'Brien.

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