The New Orleans Saints did their part in Atlanta – thrashing the Falcons 30-20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 9. http://neworleanssaints.com
But when the Los Angeles Rams blew a 17-point lead and lost to the San Francisco 49ers 27-24 in overtime, it kept the Saints out of the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season.
“Obviously, the other game didn’t go the way we wanted,” Coach Sean Payton said. “I’m proud of this group. Fought hard all season.”
The Saints end the 2021 season with a 9-8 record and winners of four of their final five games. Sunday’s game was another example of what the team had to fight through all season – losing a star player to injury.
Starting quarterback Taysom Hill was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a left foot injury and Trevor Siemian replaced him. Siemian started strong by throwing two touchdown passes in the second quarter and then was off and on in the second half but did enough to lead the Saints to victory. The Saints started four players at quarterback in 2021, a necessity after starter Jameis Winston suffered a torn ACL in a home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They also played the entire season without star receiver Michael Thomas and kicker Wil Lutz.
Siemian was nine for 15 for 71 yards with two touchdown passes against the Falcons while Hill was seven of nine for 107 yards with one touchdown in his limited action.
With right tackle Ryan Ramczyk back in the lineup, the Saints running game was strong. Alvin Kamara had his third 100-yard game of the season, carrying 30 times for 146 yards. Receiver Tre’Quan Smith had his best game of the season, catching five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
The New Orleans defense continued its outstanding play, forcing two first half turnovers (a Paulson Adebo interception, and Malcolm Jenkins forced a fumble) that led to 10 points. Linebacker Kwon Alexander forced a fumble in the fourth quarter that was recovered by defensive lineman Shy Tuttle. Defensive end Cameron Jordan had a sack, his 23rd sack of Matt Ryan and 12.5 for the season. Linemate Marcus Davenport had 1.5 sacks.
The Falcons finished the season 7-10.