The 1-7 Atlanta Falcons salvaged at least one part of their dismal 2019 season with a victory over the rival New Orleans Saints, earning a 26-9 win on the road in the Big Easy.
The Falcons, who have been abysmal on defense during their 2019 campaign, stepped up against one of the best offenses in the NFL, holding New Orleans to just 310 total yards from scrimmage, according to ESPN.
While Atlanta only managed 317 yards themselves, the team earned 24 first downs and performed when it counted on offense, converting 2-5 red zone opportunities compared to the Saints’ 0 for 3 mark when inside the 20-yard line.
The Saints failed to score a touchdown over the course of the entire game despite averaging 2.5 touchdowns per game this season according to TeamRankings.
Atlanta has had a dismal year thus far, notching just one win prior to Sunday’s road victory. That lone win came in a thriller against Philadelphia in Week 2, but since then the Falcons have steadily looked worse and worse.
The main issue is the team’s defense, which head coach Dan Quinn has struggled to adjust against the high-octane offenses rampant in the NFL this year.
Against New Orleans, however, those fears were alleviated — at least temporarily. The Falcons sacked Saints star quarterback Drew Brees six times over the course of the game, and fan confidence raised from 4% to 26% following the win according to SB Nation and FanPulse.
“We’ve got to build off of this performance, definitely,” Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett told Associated Press. “It felt really good and encouraging and motivating.”
Jarrett, a star defensive player drafted out of Clemson in 2015, woke up in New Orleans, downing Drew Brees multiple times and acquiring 2.5 sacks on the day, leading the Falcons in the stat category. The Falcons only had 7 sacks coming into the game against New Orleans but adjusted for the rivalry matchup.
The Falcons defense looks to capitalize on the momentum of the upset win against the Saints headed into a Week 11 matchup with another division rival in the Carolina Panthers.