You'd see a 17 point output and think the Saints' offense played miserably, but the Falcons controlled the clock with possession offense and kept the Saints off the field. While the Saints did a good job overall both running and passing, little things here and there would stunt some of their drives. Some of it was a mental mistake, some of it was poor play calls, and some of it was good timely defense by the Falcons. This game flew by and the Saints just didn't get the opportunities they normally do. Still, this wasn't a great showing and they did just the bare minimum necessary to win. On to the grades…
Drew Brees: B+ for the game (3.21 for the season) It wasn't his best game, despite his 115.5 QB rating. He was fortunate not to get intercepted on a pass in the end zone to Colston, and the threw a deep ball in traffic to Meachem that was dangerous. He also barely missed a couple throws that would have been first downs if the location had been a bit better. He finished 23 of 33 for 278 yards, 2 touchdowns and no turnovers. Hard to believe he could put up numbers like that and it still feel like he "didn't play his best". He did make plays, though, and did enough to help the Saints win.
Pierre Thomas: A+ (3.09) He carried the entire offense on his back in this game. He had 73 yards on 10 carries and another 57 yards on 5 receptions. He was quick, decisive with his cuts, and extremely hard to bring down. Every time the Saints gave him the ball the chains kept moving. They would've scored a lot more in my opinion if they had given him the ball more. The Falcons could do nothing to stop him.
Mark Ingram: C+ (2.17) He had 9 carries for 32 yards which isn't a horrible stat line by any means, but in particular there was one run he bounced outside where he had a huge lane if he had just cut upfield. Classic Saints eraReggie Bush stuff right there. He did have an amazing blitz pickup, though, where he pancaked a linebacker and then picked up another rusher on the same play. Sick!
Khiry Robinson: C+ (2.53) He just got one carry but I figured I'd give him a little + for getting a 4 yard run. I felt like he could've gotten more out of that run, though.
Jed Collins: C+ (2.76) He was a bit up and down. One a goal line carry he was stuffed by his own man. There were a couple runs by Pierre Thomas were he laid devastating blocks to spring them free, but he also didn't pass protect great and whiffed on a couple run blocks too.
Marques Colston: B- (2.77) He hurt the Falcons often early but then disappeared as the game developed. In the second half he was really quiet. He finished with 4 catches for 40 yards but couldn't come up with a couple contested balls. On one pass he came up with a seemingly circus catch, backhanding a ball with one hand but the ball popped out as he tried to secure it.
Lance Moore: B- (2.17) Another quiet day for Moore who just hasn't really had that breakout killer game this season. Just 2 catches for 22 yards. He did do a fantastic job of blocking on the edge on one play in particular that helped PT get a first down on a long distance to go, despite the fact that blocking isn't really his strong suit.
Robert Meachem: B- (2.27) He finished with 1 catch for 18 yards but that was a huge first down on the Saints' final drive to help kill the game. Like Moore he also blocked very well on running plays. He did a good job breaking up a deep ball into double coverage and he semi dropped a 3rd down pass on a ball that was thrown slightly behind him. If the location had been better he likely makes that catch but the ball being behind him allowed the defender to contest it.
Kenny Stills: C+ (2.55) He had 2 receptions for 22 yards. Nothing major, but a nice grab on a low ball.
Jimmy Graham: A (3.21) He's back to tied with Brees for the team lead in GPA for offensive players. In fact he's slightly ahead by decimals. He had 5 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. His double move and touchdown was sick, and after his catch he carried Thomas DeCoud about 7-8 yards with him into the end zone. Then he broke the goalpost celebrating. Beast.
Ben Watson: B (2.53) He was targeted twice. His first was a sick catch in the back of the end zone for a touchdown where he did a great job going up to get the ball and getting two feet down. The second was a contested low ball broken up by Desmond Trufant. He was otherwise flagged for a false start and the Saints seemed to prefer Hill in blocking situations to him. Still, he made a huge play for the team.
Josh Hill: C (2.27) He had 2 catches for 16 yards that were useful receptions, but he also dropped a gimme 3rd and short pass that forced the Saints to punt. There was a holding penalty on that play anyway, but his drop allowed the Falcons to decline it. His blocking was ok, not great.
Charles Brown: B+ (2.30) He gave up some edge pressure from time to time and as usual Brees was able to re-direct into the pocket to help him out. But Brown had a pretty solid showing and continues to hold his own. He seems to be improving with each passing week.
Ben Grubbs: B+ (2.43) Early in the game he seemed out of sorts. I know he is hurt so perhaps it took him a while to get warmed up as he totally whiffed on run block assignments. As the game progressed he got a lot better, though, and he was outright dominant in the second half.
Brian de la Puente: B- (2.43) He played ok but had some lapses against the run. On one 3rd and short play, though, he sprung Thomas free with a devastating block. He did get pushed into Jed Collins on a goal line carry and missed a couple backside run blitzes. His pulling on screens were awesome, though, and his pass protection was very clean as he kept a nice pocket for Brees.
Tim Lelito: C+ (2.00) He did give up a sack, the Falcons only one of the game, and he was flagged for holding on 3rd and 1 which is a back breaking penalty. Other than that he totally held his own, though. This was a big improvement from the Cardinals game. And considering what he went through this week with the death of his grandmother that was great to see. The Saints have to have more confidence in his capabilities as a reserve after this one.
Zach Strief: B- (2.80) He made no mistakes but I just never felt like he got the push some of the other linemen did and his pass blocking made Brees feel occassional pressure from the edge.
Bryce Harris: C- (2.33) He filled in late and got a holding penalty in the last 2 minutes of the game for holding which is just inexcusable. Otherwise he was another body that helped the run game.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Pierre Thomas