Jim Henderson's Black & Gold Breakdown: Saints vs. Falcons II
Written by: Jim Henderson, FOX 8 Saints Analyst - email
The Saints come into a Georgia Dome where the Falcons have not lost this season. But it's also a Georgia Dome where the Saints have only lost once in the last six years.
As they face each other for the second time in four games, the immediate goals of these old foes are vastly different. The Falcons can clinch the NFC South title with a win and a Tampa Bay loss to Denver. They have the top seed in the NFC in the playoffs on their minds.
The Saints' goal is far less lofty -- just a seed in the play-offs as a wild card, which a loss to the Falcons would almost certainly make unattainable.
The Saints will see some changes in the team they beat 31-27 back on November 11. Diminutive speedster Jaquizz Rodgers saw more action at running back in last Sunday's win over the Bucs than plodding veteran Michael Turner, who carried 13 times for just 17 yards two weeks after a 13-carry, 15-yard performance against the Saints.
Wide receiver Julio Jones, who missed significant time in the first meeting with an injury, had six catches against the Bucs, all for first downs -- among them an 80-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan.
Chris Ivory's 56-yard touchdown sparked a 148-yard rushing outburst for the Saints in the first meeting. But the Saints' ground attack could only generate 59 yards Sunday against the 49ers while the Falcons' defense -- with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon back at full health after missing the Saints game and two others -- held the Bucs' rookie sensation Doug martin to 2.4 yards per carry. That was his lowest output of the season for a Tampa team whose longest run of the day was 10 yards -- that was three yards longer than the Saints' longest against the Niners.
The Falcons seek revenge on Sunday. The Saints seek survival.
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