That’s how the South used to be won. The Unique Orleans Saints (10-2) clinched their third consecutive NFC South title by beating the rival Atlanta Falcons (3-9), 26-18, in the closing sport of the Thanksgiving tripleheader. Here’s what we learned from Unique Orleans’ victory:
1. We’re no longer even into December, and Unique Orleans has secured a playoff berth. Such used to be the bid of the NFC South this season, as the Panthers (5-6) misplaced Cam Newton, the Falcons misplaced their capacity and the Buccaneers (4-7) remained misplaced at sea. The Saints’ Turkey Day triumph over Atlanta clinched the division for Unique Orleans for the third consecutive season, a feat the franchise has never achieved forward of. Unique Orleans will be assured as a minimum one playoff sport in the Superdome, where they are 6-1 in the Sean Payton period, with the one loss being, well, that loss. Nevertheless the Saints are in the marketplace for higher than goal right one home sport on the predominant weekend of January. At 10-2, Unique Orleans is 1.5 video games forward of the NFC North leader and is barely right a half of-sport befriend of the conference-leading 49ers. The Saints can acquire a leg up on San Francisco next week when they host these Niners in a Bayou matinee. A predominant-spherical bye and home self-discipline wait on is well in the Saints’ sights for the second straight season.
2. Eighteen days after Unique Orleans fell at home to Atlanta in arguably the upset of the season, the Saints exacted revenge by leaning, no longer on their bread-and-butter combo of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, however on their dominant line of defense and their Swiss Army knife in pads. With out left form out Terron Armstead holding his blind facet, Brees (184 yards) used to be efficient if no longer prolific throwing to Thomas (a season-low 48 yards) and Jared Prepare dinner (85 yards on three catches, and as many drops), however when Unique Orleans wanted some voodoo magic on Thursday night, it grew to develop into to Taysom Hill. Hill’s night started with a blocked punt on Atlanta’s first possession. On the Saints’ ensuing 30-yard pressure, Hill, lined up as a receiver, scored the predominant touchdown, a 3-yard receiving receive on a jet pop pass from Brees. Tiresome in the second quarter, with Unique Orleans going thru a brief third down in Atlanta territory, the Saints took their franchise signal-caller in prefer of Hill, who took the shotgun snap and sped thru the offensive line 30 yards to the dwelling, inserting Unique Orleans up 17-6. Hill logged 13 offensive snaps (his most since Week 8) and 35 total (his most since Week 2) in the victory. With the predominant two-touchdown performance of his occupation, Hill reminded us of the risk he can pose on any given play — on offense or particular teams — and why he can be an X-factor for the Saints at some stage in their march into the postseason.
3. Whereas Hill won the sport for Unique Orleans on offense, Cameron Jordan and the front seven secured the victory on the synthetic facet of the ball. With Atlanta lacking starting left guard James Carpenter (concussion), Unique Orleans hurried Matt Ryan (312 yards) all night prolonged, collapsing the pocket swiftly and forcing the old MVP into some wretched selections. Ryan loved arguably his worst sport of what has been an above-average season, losing a fumble on a bolt and throwing two picks over the center, alongside side one to rookie defensive form out Fearful Tuttle, who stiff-armed Ryan into the next county on the following interception return. It used to be never going to be easy for the Falcons, who were with out Julio Jones (shoulder) and Austin Hooper (knee) and were left with the likes of Christian Blake (57 yards) and Jaeden Graham (41 yards, TD) to produce worthy performs. Nevertheless issues were made worse by their offensive line play, which may maybe well maybe maybe no longer preserve Ryan trusty. The signal-caller took 13 QB hits and 9 sacks, which coach Dan Quinn identified were “too many” sacks, in the loss. Four of these QB takedowns got right here courtesy of Jordan who welcomed rookie correct form out Kaleb McGary to the NFL … 12 video games into his first 300 and sixty five days. After the Saints sacked Ryan goal right once in Week 10, the assembly of Unique Orleans’ D-line and Atlanta’s O-line this time around used to be more indicative of an unstoppable pressure assembly a readily movable object.
4. No, you are no longer losing it. The Ballad of Younghoe Koo used to be no longer a tryptophan-induced fever dream concocted by absurdist pigskin puppet-masters for your after-darkish viewing pleasure. It in actuality took place. After lacking an extra level and a self-discipline plot in the second quarter, Koo, Atlanta’s substitute kicker, redeemed himself with a second half of to be mindful. First, Koo obtained off the schneid and knocked in a self-discipline plot correct forward of halftime. Then, after Atlanta scored leisurely to pull within 9 points, Koo executed an onside kick handiest for it to be referred to as befriend on an offsides penalty. Koo responded by executing one more, giving Atlanta one more shot to receive. The Falcons did, on his leg, knocking home a 43-yard self-discipline plot to pull within one receive. Miraculously, on the following onside kick try, Koo succeeded again, giving the Falcons one closing probability to tie the sport. (Narrator: They did no longer.) The unofficial stat line for Koo: one XP leave out, one FG leave out, two FGs made, three* profitable onside kicks, one weird and wonderful viewing expertise.
5. Michael Thomas substitute: The Saints receiver, coming into Thursday night on tempo to interrupt Marvin Harrison’s receptions file (143), hauled in six catches against Atlanta, one higher than his season-low. With 110 receptions thru 12 video games, Thomas is on tempo to enact with 147 catches, quiet breaking Harrison’s impress, however goal right barely.