Here are two things most people did not expect when the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints squared off on Sunday.
New Orleans would win because of its defense.
Atlanta would lose because of Steven Jackson.
Jackson dropped three passes during the Falcons' 23-17 loss to the Saints, but the biggest miscue occurred at the most inopportune moment. Atlanta took over on its 20-yard line with 3:12 remaining, but marched down the field and was on the 3-yard line with 54 seconds remaining. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan attempted a pass to Jackson, but the running back dropped the potential game-winning reception.
On the next play, Ryan’s pass to Tony Gonzalez was intercepted, and the Saints took over with 43 seconds remaining.
New Orleans’ defense – or lack thereof – was the team’s biggest question mark entering this year, but the Saints recorded three sacks, forced two fumbles and one interception during Sean Payton’s return to coaching after serving a one-year suspension in 2012.