First half notes - Saints lead Falcons 20-10

Bill Shanks has thoughts from the Georgia Dome on the game between the Falcons and the Saints.


First half notes:

The Saints had a lot of wide open receivers in the first half. And Drew Brees was not under a lot of pressure. While the Falcons deserve credit for keeping the Saints to two first half field goals, Brees really went after the Atlanta secondary. A penalty by the Saints on their first drive contributed to the hold to only a field goal.

The Falcons should lead this game.. The fumble by Julio Jones as he was inside the five-yard line was a crucial mistake. The Falcons were driving and looked better on offense, but the turnover killed the chance for any points.

Who can cover the tight end? Well, to be fair, everyone has trouble covering Jimmy Graham, but he was wide open several times in the first half.

Joseph Morgan had a sure touchdown but Robert Alford made an outstanding play to knock out the pass from Brees that saved six points. Atlanta held New Orleans to another field goal to be down by six.

After Jones' fumble, the Saints turned around and scored a touchdown on the next possession to make it 13-0. Atlanta would have instead been up 7-6 if Jones had not fumbled.

But when the Falcons got the ball back they had a long 7:40 drive that resulted in a touchdown to cut the score to 13-7. Devonta Freeman had a big catch and turned it into a 13-yard reception that set up the touchdown.

New Orleans turned around and had a quick 3:46 drive that got them back to a 13-yard advantage. But Matt Ryan set the Falcons up for some points before the half with a 39-yard pass to Roddy White. Matt Bryant then knocked it through for three more points to make it 20-10 at intermission.

Roddy White (knee) and Jake Matthews (ankle) both hurt on that last drive of the half. They were listed as questionable to return in the second half. Gabe Carimi is in at left tackle to start the second half, with Lamar Holmes (who had been out and replaced by Carimi at times in the first half) was at right tackle.

White, however, caught three passes early in the first drive of the second half, so he’s obviously okay.

Atlanta’s defense is going to have to make some big stops in the second half. They gave up 260 total yards in the first half, while the offense finally got on track and had 234 yards. Ryan was 13-16 for 185 yards and one touchdown. That touchdown was Ryan’s 154th career touchdown as Atlanta’s quarterback, which breaks Steve Bartkowski’s record for most touchdown passes in Falcons history. Steven Jackson had 30 yards rushing on five carries.

Follow me on twitter for second half analysis - @billshanks.

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