Saints end Falcons’ unbeaten run
Saints end Falcons’ unbeaten run
The Saints stopped Atlanta twice in the closing minutes to stun their National Conference South division rivals.
Atlanta, who fell to 8-1, trailed by four at 31-27 when quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons to the Saints’ one-yard line with two minutes remaining. The Saints kept them out of the end zone, but Atlanta got the ball back one more time with 37 seconds remaining, and again were unable to score.
“Big win for our football team — we played a heck of a team in Atlanta,” said Saints coach Joe Vitt.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 21-of-32 passes for 298 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in guiding New Orleans to their second straight victory.
“I felt like this was a very hard-fought football game in terms of the effort,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We made way too many mistakes.”
In San Francisco, David Akers and Greg Zuerlein both missed field goals in overtime and the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams played to a 24-24 tie, the first tie in the NFL since November of 2008.
The 49ers’ Akers had sent the game into overtime with a 33-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation. His overtime effort was wide left.
Zuerlein initially nailed a 53-yard attempt on St. Louis’ ensuing series, but a delay of game penalty was called. The rookie kicker then missed from 58 yards.
San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith ended the game on the sidelines, throwing for 72 yards and a touchdown before departing with a concussion late in the first quarter.
Chicago and Philadelphia also saw their signal-callers exit early with concussions.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler took a hard hit to the head in the second quarter and didn’t come back after halftime in a 13-6 loss to Houston — who improved to 8-1 with the victory.
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick departed with a concussion in the second quarter of a 38-23 loss to NFC East rivals Dallas.
Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant made a spectacular touchdown catch on the final play of the third quarter.
Dwayne Harris then returned a punt 78 yards for a go-ahead score 1:25 into the fourth, and Brandon Carr picked off a pass by back-up Falcons quarterback Nick Foles and returned it for a touchdown.
The victory allowed the Cowboys to gain on division leaders the New York Giants, who were stunned 31-13 by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In Minneapolis, Adrian Peterson ran for 171 yards and a touchdown as the Minnesota Vikings posted a 34-24 victory over NFC North division rivals Detroit.
The Baltimore Ravens set a new club record for points scored in a game with a 55-20 triumph over Oakland.
New England continued their home dominance of Buffalo with a 37-31 victory.
Tom Brady threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots, who won their third straight game and their 11th straight against the Bills at Gillette Stadium.
In other games, Tennessee thumped Miami 37-3, Denver downed Carolina 36-14, Tampa Bay beat San Diego 34-24 and Seattle beat the New York Jets 28-7.
Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal
- The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
- After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.
Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #WengerOut believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.