Lattimore’s football life or a ball-dislodging hit by Tyeler Davison near the goal line Jawaan Taylor Jersey
, the Saints’ defense poetically tipped the scales in a long-awaited playoff-clinching victory.Shoddy defense was widely seen as the reason the Saints missed the playoffs the last three seasons. Those days are over.Lattimore corralled a momentum turning interception off his backside, New Orleans made two defensive stands from inside its 2-yard line, and the Saints clinched their first postseason berth since 2013 with a 23-13 victory over the rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.“We want the team to win because of the defense, not in spite of the defense, and I feel like we’ve all kind of hung our hat on that,” Davison said. “We saw it in our mind and we turned it into real life, man, and it feels amazing. It feels just as you thought it would when you pictured it 100 times.”Ted Ginn caught a 54-yard pass for a touchdown, which came a few plays after Lattimore’s interception and shortly before halftime. Mark Ingram used a sharp cutback to break loose for a 26-yard touchdown for New Orleans ( 11-4), which kept its tenuous hold on first place in the NFC South heading into the final week of the season.While the loss eliminated the Falcons (9-6) from the NFC South race, Atlanta can clinch a wild-card berth by beating Carolina in the final regular-season game.The Falcons entered the game with a second straight division crown within reach, but they needed to beat the Saints. They squandered chances spectacularly, much to the delight of a deafening Superdome crowd — and certainly to the chagrin of scattered fans wearing Falcons red. The Falcons were taunted on their way to the game by a plane towing a banner that read “28-3 Merry Xmas,” a reference to Atlanta’s Super Bowl collapse.Atlanta trailed 6-0 when Lattimore’s interception of Matt Ryan set the Saints up to double their lead.Early in the third quarter, Atlanta linebacker Deion Jones intercepted a pass that deflected off Ginn’s hands and returned it 41 yards to the New Orleans 2. But Devonta Freeman fumbled on a hit by Davison two plays later and linebacker Manti Teo recovered.“That was my fault Josh Oliver Jersey
,” Freeman said. “No matter what play is called, you’ve got to get in the end zone and score, and I’ve got to protect the ball. I’ve got to do better at that. I’m going to do whatever it takes to fix it.”Early in the fourth quarter, Freeman was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1, preserving a 20-3 Saints lead. One play earlier, Julio Jones caught a third-down pass with his feet in the end zone, but he was unable to pull the ball across the goal line after reaching back to make the catch. Atlanta challenged the spot, but the call on the field was upheld.“That’s kind of the tale of the day,” Ryan said. “We can’t do that in these type of games and we missed too many opportunities.”FORTUITOUS PICKLattimore, drafted 11th overall last spring out of Ohio State, said he’d never had a more unusual interception at any level of football. Lattimore had been beaten on the play and launched into a desperate dive as Ryan’s high pass deflected off the hands of receiver Marvin Hall and fell on Lattimore as he lay face down.He curled his leg up on the ball to try to prevent it from touching the ground, reached back with his right hand to swipe it from players from both teams who grasped at it.“I felt the ball on the back of my leg. I knew it didn’t touch the ground because everybody was trying to fight for it,” Lattimore said . “I just went back and reached for it and got it.”FINAL NUMBERSDrew Brees completed 21 of 28 passes for 239 yards. Ginn finished with 76 yards receiving and Michael Thomas — who’d been listed as questionable with a hamstring injury — caught four passes for 66 yards. Brees became the third quarterback in NFL history to eclipse 70,000 career yards passing, joining Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.Ryan was 22 of 36 for 288 yards. He was sacked five times Deandre Baker Jersey
, twice by Cameron Jordan.Jones had seven catches for 149 yards, but the Falcons’ running game struggled.Freeman was held to 36 yards on 11 carries.INJURY REPORTFalcons: Tight end Levine Toilolo was sidelined by a knee injury in the second half.Saints: Left tackle Terron Armstead left the game in the second half with a thigh injury.UP NEXTFalcons: Finish regular season at home against the Panthers.Saints: Try to wrap up the division title at Tampa Bay on New Year’s Eve. The head-spinning offenses NFL fans are enamored of and will watch in the Super Bowl in Atlanta share their explosiveness with the previous team to win the big game in the ATL.The Greatest Show On Turf.Yes, at the turn of the century, there was a group that shared so many light-em-up traits with these Rams and Patriots. The St. Louis Rams under of all people, Dick Vermeil — for decades a defense-minded coach —employed a quick-strike scheme with a resourceful quarterback, game-breaking receivers, a Hall of Fame running back and an offensive line that could dominate while blocking in the ground game or protecting the passer.Most of all, that team starring Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and a group of lesser knowns embraced the attitude of attacking a defense from the first snap until the last.They weren’t as workmanlike as the Patriots can be, and they didn’t have a rising star overseeing it such as Sean McVay with the current Rams. What the 1999 Rams brought to the Super Bowl in early 2000 was a killer instinct when they had the ball that both of the teams who will meet on Feb. 3 also possess — though not as spectacularly.“That team and that era, football kind of saw everyone with a mindset of 3 yards and a cloud of dust in December and January, and you had to be able to run the football to win was kind of the mantra,” says Warner http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/oshane-ximines-jersey
, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017. “We were one of the first to show you can win throwing first. I guess that is all relative with such an extremely talented team because Marshall ran for almost 1,400 yards.“But if you think about it, we sort of started to usher in the new age, and fantasy football, and the fan bases of not just die-hards. I think it became a new era of what the NFL would be about and what people would be seeing. That led to where we are at: people love offense and love to see scoring. Even a lot of the rules are kind of catered to allowing a little more freedom to do that.”The freedom is so, well, free that this year, the NFL set records for touchdowns with 1,371, beating the previous mark in 2013 by 33; and was second to 2013 in points with 11,952.Three teams — the Chiefs (35.3, the Rams (32.9) and the Saints (31.5) — averaged at least 30 points per game. Kansas City scored 565 points, third most in NFL history.When the St. Louis Rams were partying like it was 1999, they scored 526 points; ranked first in yards, yards passing Julian Love Jersey
, and TD passes; and were second in yards rushing per attempt. Faulk rushed for 1,381 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 87 balls for 1,087 yards, with five more TDs, and was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year for the first of three straight seasons.All Warner did was win the first of his two league MVP honors. Previously an obscure backup whose best work had come in Arena Football, Warner stepped in when starter Trent Green tore up his knee in the preseason. His rise to prominence wasn’t exactly projected at that point.“In college at Northern Iowa, we played a wide-open offense a lot, which played into my skillset,” Warner says. “When I played Arena Football, we scored 60 to 70 points a game. So my mindset in the NFL was not we are going to score 25 or 30 points, but every time we touch the ball we are supposed to score. Why do we have to punt? If we punt, what are we doing wrong?”That philosophy certainly contradicted Vermeil’s previous approach. To his everlasting credit, though, Vermeil recognized what he had on offense. And he also went 5-11 http://www.newyorkgiantsteamonline.com/darius-slayton-jersey
, then 4-12 in his previous two years in charge in St. Louis. So winning immediately was a priority for the veteran coach to keep his job.So he turned loose coordinator Mike Martz and the rest of the offense.“The talent might have been a bit unrefined, but it was there,” Vermeil has said. “It was our belief we could be productive on offense, but does anyone really expect to be that productive? I am not sure of that.”Well, Warner did.“I never really saw the game a whole lot differently,” he says. “I was so used to going on offense and throw the ball and score and throw some more and score. It kind of led right into what we did with the Rams and what we accomplished.”What they accomplished was the forerunner of what we see now week in and week out in the NFL. You know, 5,000-yard passers, 50-TD QBs, and the kind of numbers that thrill fantasy players everywhere.“We had success early, and any time you want to change something …what do you do if you do not have success right away? That success allows you that ability to keep going, to say, ‘Let’s see how sustainable this can be.'”It’s lasted nearly two decades, with no signs of abating.