Saints' Sean Payton: Falcons 'played better than us'

Saints suffer second loss of the season

Amos Morale III
November 10, 2019 - 5:16 pm

Saints coach Sean Payton was blunt about his team’s performance Sunday.

“We didn’t play well enough to win today, really against anybody,” he said.  

The New Orleans Saints (7-2) suffered just their second loss of the season Sunday as the Atlanta Falcons (2-7) took advantage of 12 Saints’ penalties among other mistakes en route to a 26-9 win.

“They played better than us,” Sean Payton said. “Pick a situation and there’s a good chance they won that situation. Third down, they were better both sides of the ball. Penalties, they were better. Collectively, we’ve got to do a better job and it starts with me.” 

Payton specifically referred to the third down situations as important. The Falcons were only 6-of-15 on third down but saw several drives extended, courtesy of Saints penalties. The Falcons had six first downs in the game as a result of Saints’ violations.

“The drives for them extended and the drives for us didn’t,” Payton said adding that he thought the officials made good calls on those plays.

“I thought the officiating was pretty good in this game,” he said.

A few of those flags helped Atlanta turn the Saints errors into scoring opportunities. 

In the second quarter, an illegal hands to face call on Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport negated a third down stop and gave the Falcons a first down. 

Later on that same drive Marshon Lattimore was flagged for defensive holding on a third down incompletion that would’ve forced Atlanta to attempt a field goal. The Falcons instead scored two plays later when Matt Ryan found Austin Hooper in the end zone with an 8-yard touchdown pass.

In that same quarter, the Saints offense was the victim of another penalty. With under two minutes to play in the first half, Drew Brees and the Saints were driving and had gotten the ball down to the Atlanta 23 after New Orleans’ quarterback completed three passes to Jared Cook and another to Michael Thomas. But Thomas was penalized for grasping the facemark of a Falcons defender, negating the gain and forcing the Saints to ultimately settle for a Wil Lutz field goal.

“A penalty here and there all of a sudden makes it 3rd-and-15 as opposed to 3rd-and-5 or 7 or 8 and your percentage of converting on it goes way down,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. 

Brees said the penalties were just a part of the Saints issues Sunday. The NFL’s all-time leading passer said the Saints just failed to execute well.

He pointed to one play, an incompletion intended for receiver Tre’Quan Smith as an example. 

Smith was unable to corral a pass from Brees on 2nd-and-9 in the second quarter Sunday. Brees said that if would’ve thrown the ball a few inches shorter, Smith wouldn’t have had to leap for the pass and likely would have had a big gain.

Instead the Saints faced a 3rd-and-9 and were flagged for a false start and the drives stalled.

“All the little things, they played a big factor in this game,” he said. “Making some of those plays. Extra split second or game of inches, playing the percentages or running the ball better, avoiding the sack, avoiding the negative play. Not committing the unforced errors. So lop em all together and that’s what happened today.”   

The Saints will look to bounce back next Sunday in Tampa Bay when they face the Buccaneers.

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