The New Orleans Saints pummeled the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday 48-17 — and while neither team will be competing in the NFL playoffs — the final moments of the divisional game made headlines despite most fans focused on the various postseason scenarios.
Surprisingly, the Saints didn’t dominate the stat sheet in a game that ended up with such a lopsided final score. New Orleans finished with 400 yards of total offense while Atlanta was just slightly behind, with 389.
The Falcons finished the day with more passing yards (311) than the Saints (246).
But the two deciding factors were clear.
The New Orleans Saints kept their defense off the field with long possessions, dominating time of possession (34 minutes) by finding success in their running game. On the other side, the Atalanta Falcons struggled to put together successful possessions holding the ball for just over 26 minutes.
Ultimately, more than anything else, the divisional clash was determined by turnovers. The Falcons threw two critical interceptions and lost a fumble, setting up great field position for staring QB Derek Carr.
Carr played one of the best games of the season, finishing 22-of-28 for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
New Orleans Saints Add Another Touchdown In Final Minute Up 41-17, Atlanta Falcons Coach Loses His Mind After The Game
With just over a minute remaining, the Saints had just forced a turnover and found themselves on the Falcons one-yard-line.
They took the field as if they were going to line up in a typical victory formation, take a knee and walk out with a dominating 41-17 victory.
But instead, backup QB Jameis Winston, who entered the game to close out the final play, faked the victory formation play and handed the ball off to running back Jamaal Williams to add another touchdown and make the final score 48-17.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 7, 2024
It’s rare to see a NFL team fake a victory formation setup, especially when leading by such a large margin.
So when it came time for the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints to shake hands following the game, Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith was visibly furious as he approached Saints head coach Dennis Allen. Anyone with the ability to read lips could clearly make out what Smith was saying in the profanity-laced altercation with Allen over that final play, which he clearly considered a disrespectful low blow considering the situation.
Here’s the video of the Falcons head coach losing his mind on Allen following the game:
Arthur Smith and Dennis Allen have a postgame chat 😳 pic.twitter.com/s469d2OcWq
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 7, 2024
New Orleans Coach Dennis Allen Says Players Changed Play Call On Their Own, Jameis Winston Confirms With Hilarious Response
After the game, Allen made it clear his players called their own audible out of the kneel-down as called and into a run for Jamaal Williams, The play scored the veteran running back’s first touchdown of the year.
“That’s not who we are,” Allen said, disapproving of the situation. “That’s not how we operate. We should’ve taken a knee. I want to apologize to (Smith and the Falcons). We’ve got a good rivalry, and it’s a heated rivalry, but there’s a way we going about doing our business, and I wasn’t happy about that.”
Jameis Winston didn’t deny it was a team decision in order to get Williams a touchdown this season and apologized to Allen. But in typical Winston fashion, the exchange and explanation from the outspoken NFL QB was absolute gold.
Watch for yourself:
This was insane and hilarious from Jameis Winston.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 8, 2024
To summarize, Winston told reporters it was a “team decision” based solely on getting Williams his first touchdown of the year. He apologized to his coach a few times and then took a few clear jabs at the Atlanta Falcons.
“Man we got an interception to the one yard line, so if we would have scored, would it still have been disrespectful?” Jameis Winston said in his animated response.
When asked if this is the kind of thing that should be forgotten quickly, Winston continued to fuel the fire between the two teams.
“I think it should be forgotten, especially when the score is already 41-17, I don’t know how much worse it can get,” he said with a huge grin.
Although he apologized to his own head coach multiple times, the New Orleans Saints backup QB never formally apologized to Arthur Smith, but noted he respected the Atlanta Falcons coach and reiterated the decision wasn’t meant to disrespect his team, but instead they made a collective decision as a team to give a player who has worked hard all year a touchdown.
Winston followed that portion up with, “I’m going to feel good about that”
He then said he doesn’t regret the controversial decision, before getting into a wild back-and-forth with a reporter who continued to ask Jameis Winston if he thought it was the right call. The two exchanged questions and responses for a bit and Winston eventually asked the journalist his feelings on the situation. a
He told the QB “I thought it was wrong.”
The entire premise, backstory and Winston’s response to the questions were vintage Jameis Winston. He may not be a NFL starter anymore, but he’s always finds a way to remain entertaining.