What it means: The Falcons are no longer undefeated. They are 8-1 and had some flaws exposed. They also still might have some sort of mental block about the Saints, who have won 11 of the teams' past 13 meetings. It's only one loss, but this should give the Falcons a dose of reality -- they're good, but they have some work to do if they seriously hope to get to the Super Bowl. The Saints are 4-5, and this game showed they still can play with anyone on any given day. It's still not going to be easy for the Saints to make the playoffs, but winning beats the alternative. If they had lost, just about any playoff hope would have been gone.
What I liked about the Saints: They ran the ball exceptionally well with Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory taking turns. The Saints also came up with some defensive stops early on. More importantly, they got the big stop when it mattered most. The New Orleans defense stopped the Falcons on their final two drives.
What I liked about the Falcons: That they were able to rally back after trailing by 11 and make it a very tight game. But that still wasn't good enough.
What I didn’t like about the Falcons: The defense, particularly the run defense, was dismal most of the day. I know the Falcons were without injured linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, but he’s not their whole run defense. I also thought Atlanta’s running game was horrible. A week after Michael Turner rushed for 100 yards, he was limited to 15 yards on 13 carries by what had been one of the worst statistical defenses in history. Turner also lost a yard on a carry from the New Orleans 1-yard line late in the game. I know Turner has lost a step, but he still has enough power to gain a yard. I'm thinking the fact he couldn't is as much of an indictment of the Atlanta offensive line as it is of Turner.
What’s next: The Falcons host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday. The Saints play at Oakland next Sunday.