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Saints hold off Falcons for 21-18 win

With Desmond Ridder at the helm in Atlanta, Mike Florio and Chris Simms explain why they're leaning towards the Saints pulling out a win in their Week 15 matchup.

The Saints never trailed during Sunday’s game against the Falcons, but it was still a tight one for the home team.

The Falcons closed within three points with seven minutes left to play and they moved the ball into Saints territory with less than three minutes to play, but Saints safety Justin Evans came up with a big play. Evans knocked the ball out of Falcons wide receiver Drake London’s hands and cornerback Bradley Roby recovered the ball.

Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill ran for first downs that chewed up clock and the Falcons’ timeouts before the Saints faced a fourth-and-one from the Falcons’ 27 with 12 seconds left in the game. Hill couldn’t handle the snap and the Saints turned the ball over with nine seconds left on the clock. Desmond Ridder hit London for six yards, but the clock ran out when the rookie quarterback scrambled on the next play.

Ridder was 13-of-26 for 97 yards in his NFL debut and the Falcons will need more out of him as a passer if he’s going to have a future with the team. Tyler Allgeier ran 17 times for 139 yards and a touchdown while Cordarrelle Patterson ran for 52 yards and another score to provide most of the offensive oomph for Atlanta.

The loss drops the Falcons to 5-9 with a trip to Baltimore on tap next week. The Saints have the same record ahead of next week’s road game in Cleveland. The NFC South has been bad enough that both teams could still wind up in first place.

If the Saints are going to get there, it will take more of the offense they showed in the first three quarters of the game. Andy Dalton and tight end Juwan Johnson hooked up for a pair of touchdowns and Taysom Hill hit Rashid Shaheed for a 68-yard score to account for all their scoring. Hill ran seven times for 30 yards and Kamara chipped in with 21 carries for 91 yards.