ATLANTA, GA (WVUE) - Injuries. Penalties. Sloppy Football.
Everything critics have grown to despise about Thursday night Football was on full display inside Mercedes Benz Stadium.
Let's start with the injuries. Alvin Kamara, AJ Klein, Trey Hendrickson, Kenny Vaccaro, Senio Kelemete, Michael Thomas, Josh Hill and Ted Ginn, Jr. all exited the game Thursday. Only Thomas, Hill and Ginn returned.
It got so bad when Kelemete was sent to the injury tent, he had to wait because it was occupied by Vaccaro.
When eight guys go down in one game, it's more than just bad luck. There's clearly something deeper at play. Drew Brees had no problem pointing out what that was.
"It's 100 percent a product of Thursday night football. You understand what guys' bodies go through in a game? And to have to turn around four days later and play? Look at the injury studies, they're off the charts. So, is this smart as it pertains to guys health and safety? No, absolutely not. "
After what we witnessed, it's hard to disagree. With that many guys banged up, it's now unknown if the extra time between now and the Jets game next week will be enough time for enough guys to truly recover. I certainly have my doubts.
Then, there were the penalties. 11 were called on the Saints. An awfully questionable roughing the passer call against Sheldon Rankins extended the Falcons first touchdown drive. Another penalty wiped three crucial points off the board at the end of the first half. The last one put the proverbial nail in the coffin when Sean Payton was flagged for coming out too far on the field while trying to call a timeout after the Saints forced a third down after a Brees interception. I'd have to go back and really search hard to find another instance where a head coach was flagged for that penalty in that point in a game. It just doesn't happen.
Add it all up and the Falcons gained nine first downs by penalty. The extra first downs led to extra plays. The extra plays led to the Falcons owning a nine-minute edge in time of possession. That extra time allowed the Falcons to overcome Matt Ryan's three disastrous interceptions which should have buried Atlanta but didn't. Meanwhile, Brees played great most of the night but his one mistake in the fourth quarter was too much to overcome because of the other setbacks during the game.
All in all, it was just a weird night. Something that's becoming all too familiar when football is played on Thursday nights.