For most of the Saints-Falcons matchup in primetime on Thanksgiving, the game was decidedly all Saints. Four Wil Lutz field goals had the road team up 26-9 with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter, and stuffed NFL fans watching around the nation were ready to go to bed. Even after the Falcons marched down the field to score a touchdown with about 3:30 left in the game, most people likely believed the game was finished.
Then, madness ensued.
The Falcons lined up for an onside kick, and the Saints watched as Falcons special teamer Foyesade Oluokun recovered the ball just after it dribbled 10 yards. However, the officials threw a penalty flag, calling Atlanta offsides despite the replay indicating no one left early on the play.
It turns out ball kicked onsides don’t lie.
That’s Oluokun once again grabbing the onside kick recovery in what basically looked like a replay of the previously waved-off play. The Falcons marched down the field and chose to kick a field goal on first down to get within eight points with 2 minutes left in the game. That meant they’d need another onsides kick recovery to have a shot at getting the win, but they couldn’t possibly recover a third straight try, could they?
Once again, the Saints player stood back and let the ball come to him, and once again a Falcons special teamer had other ideas. This time it was Kemal Ishmael coming up with the recovery, leaving New Orleans coach Sean Payton livid on the sidelines at the failure of the his special teams unit to figure out how to recover an onsides kick, which happens without drama virtually every time under the current rules. In fact, onside kick attempts were converted on 8.1 percent of tries (3 of 37) entering Week 13.
Now, the Saints defense stepped up and took care of business, snuffing out the Atlanta rally with two sacks in the final four plays to close out a 26-18 win. You can read more about all the action from the primetime showdown here.