THREE-PEAT: Saints Beat Falcons For 3rd Straight Division Title

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints won their 3rd straight NFC South Division Championship last night, but not without giving their fans a few heart palpitations along the way first.

New Orleans defeated their hated arch-rivals the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 26-18, but they allowed the Dirty Birds to recover back-to-back onside kicks that made the eventual final score a lot closer than it should have been.

The Black and Gold improved their overall win-loss record to (10-2) overall on the season, and became the first team in the NFL to clinch a Playoff spot; as they won their division with four regular season games still left to play.

With the win, the Saints also guaranteed themselves of hosting at least one home game when the post-season begins in early January.


Jack-of-all-trades and 3rd string QB Taysom Hill was the impetus for the team’s victory early in the 1st quarter, as he deflected a punt, caught a touchdown pass, and also ran 30 yards for another score that gave New Orleans early momentum that they wouldn’t relinquish until the waning final minutes of the 4th quarter.

But it was the Saints’ defense that eventually sealed the victory, as they sacked Falcons QB Matt Ryan a whopping nine times, with four of those sacks coming from defensive end Cam Jordan in what was a sensational individual performance by the 9th year veteran.

2nd year defensive end Marcus Davenport also had his best game with the Saints so far, as he sacked Ryan twice and forced a fumble.

After the game, Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters in his post-game press conference that he was proud of how his team managed to show some resiliency to pull out the win to clinch their third consecutive NFC South Division Championship, but was annoyed by the performance of the special teams’ inability to secure the football on the back-to-back on-side kicks.

“It doesn’t happen much before Thanksgiving. It’s hard to win on the road in this League. I’m proud of our guys,” Payton said. But when asked about the onside kicks, he was less than complimentary. “It’s embarrassing.”

On the sidelines, television cameras showed Payton giving special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi an earful over it.


Clearly the Saints will have to clean up that aspect of their play if they harbor any legitimate hopes of achieving their ultimate goal, which is winning Super Bowl LIV (54) in early February.

New Orleans is currently the #2 seed in the NFC, but will still have an opportunity to earn the #1 overall playoff seed when they will face the San Francisco 49ers at home inside of the Superdome a week from this Sunday, on December 8th.

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

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