That noise you heard in South Florida? It's the 1972 Miami Dolphins performing an annual ritual they claim they don't perform, cracking champagne in celebration of the last unbeaten team falling in the NFL.
No, we will not forget them. And neither should you.
The Saints helped out the '72 crew this season, as they squeaked out a 31-27 victory over the Falcons in the Superdome, a win that puts New Orleans squarely back in the playoff race and raises questions about Atlanta.
Don't get me wrong: The Falcons are fine and still one of the best teams in the NFL. But they did a poor job running the ball Sunday and an equally poor job stopping the run. Giving up points to Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham and the Saints passing game is one thing. But getting run on by Chris Ivory and Mark Ingram is another.
The bigger concern should be the way they're using Michael Turner. The Saints were giving up 176.5 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry to opposing rushing attacks this season before Sunday. Turner managed to run 13 times for 15 yards.
Atlanta's going to make its money and win games on the back of the passing attack, but it still needs to be able to run the ball, particularly when it gets near the goal line. The Falcons couldn't do it on Sunday against the Saints, and that's a concern.
On the actual topic of going undefeated, this might be the best thing for Atlanta. Though I definitely thought it was possible for the falcons to run the table, it certainly wasn't likely. Even against teams without a winning record, they had a stacked number of divisional games. Besides, is this a good thing for them?
Perhaps. They aren't a team who's going to run roughshod over the league en route to a Super Bowl, although they are one of the better teams in the league. They don't have a playoff win under this regime, and an undefeated regular season -- a technically meaningless feat without a Lombardi Trophy -- would have only added more pressure to Mike Smith and Matt Ryan when their first-round matchup in the postseason arrived.
Instead, the Falcons now have a few weeks to work the kinks out and make a push to keep the NFC South lead at a comfortable level. And they get to do it without the added pressure of people wondering each week if -- or in this case, when -- they'd lose their first game.
|Colts 27, Jaguars 10|
|B||Andrew Luck made a few mistakes against Jacksonville, but the Colts were by and large dominant in an easy victory. Reggie Wayne leads the NFL in receptions (for now), and this was an impressive effort for a defense that only had four cornerbacks active when the game began. A lead of 17-3 at halftime essentially put this game out of reach early.|
|F||The Jaguars basically no-showed their prime-time game on Thursday, scoring all of three points before a garbage-time Cecil Shorts touchdown. They got some bad calls against them, but it's hard to fathom a scenario that doesn't involve blowing up this team and trying to start over in 2013, especially if they keep playing this uninspired.|
|Ravens 55, Raiders 20|
|D-||Oakland scored some points, but its defense is a total disaster over the last two games. The Raiders were Douginated last week, and Joe Flacco shredded them on Sunday.|
|B+||For as bad as Baltimore's defense can be, its offense is incredibly explosive, particularly at home. Flacco had a monster game against the Raiders, throwing three touchdown passes and running one in. Baltimore posted a franchise-record 55 points and kept pouring it on the entire game, almost like it was making a statement.|
|Vikings 34, Lions 24|
|D||Just when you think this team is going to start making a push for the playoffs, Detroit's offense pulls a total no-show in the first half of this game. The defense couldn't stop Christian Ponder even though he was missing Percy Harvin, and Adrian Peterson flat-out plowed through that high-priced defensive line. Calvin Johnson was huge with 207 yards, but he and Matthew Stafford generated most of their numbers in garbage time.|
|B+||Minnesota needed a bounceback to slow its losing streak, and got it in a big way. Great debut for Jarius Wright, who helped Ponder calm the critics with his 221-yard, two-touchdown day. Peterson lived up to the All Day nickname on Sunday, rumbling for 171 yards and a score on 27 carries. Strong effort by the defense to limit the Lions to three first-half points.|
|Buccaneers 34, Chargers 24|
|C-||Philip Rivers looked spectacular early and played well for much of this game, but he threw a pair of absolutely back-breaking interceptions late, including an inexplicable pick six. The defense did very little against Tampa, and a blocked kick for a touchdown plus Leonard Johnson's TD off a pick were the difference. Silly mistakes can cost teams and people their jobs in situations like this.|
|B||The Chargers came into Tampa Bay firing, and the Buccaneers hung right with them. Doug Martin ran pretty well again this week against a tough San Diego front. Josh Freeman was efficient and didn't make any major mistakes. The secondary stinks, but that's not breaking news. Tampa Bay just keeps winning and hanging in the playoff race.|
|Titans 37, Dolphins 3|
|B+||Maybe Bud Adams should threaten to fire everyone every week of the season: The Titans got up on the Fins early and never let up. Chris Johnson flashed some of his old CJ2K form in this game, Jake Locker had some athletic plays and nice throws despite sub-par stats. The biggest surprise was a bad defense finally showing up for a week and doing it on the road, no less.|
|F||Reggie Bush got benched after a bad fumble, Ryan Tannehill threw three picks, and the Dolphins were barely in this game at halftime. It was surprising to see them gashed by Chris Johnson but even more surprising that they couldn't muster more than three points against a horrible defense.|
|Broncos 36, Panthers 14|
|A-||John Fox can say he didn't care about this game all he wants, but his team was throwing late with a big lead in an absolute waxing of the Panthers in Charlotte. Willis McGahee's fumbling is a concern, but Peyton Manning was good again and DeMaryius Thomas didn't suffer a major knee injury. But the real story should probably be Von Miller: The second-year linebacker was a dominant force defensively and helped harass Cam Newton all day long.|
|D||The Panthers scripted a fantastic early drive that resulted in a 7-0 lead ... and then fell apart. Newton made a number of bad mistakes, and the offense simply couldn't turn some of the big-time plays by the defense into points. Luke Kuechly is a very nice bright spot at this point, however.|
|Bengals 31, Giants 13|
|F||Mercifully, the Giants are coming off a Super Bowl, so we don't have to sweat Tom Coughlin's job security. But Eli Manning has been baaaaad for a few weeks in a row now, and it has to be concerning. The defense was carved up by Andy Dalton all day long and didn't manage a single sack. The offensive line was absolutely dominated.|
|B+||Big-time performance from their defensive line as they picked up 3 1/2 sacks on Manning. Dalton made some very nice throws and picked up four touchdowns. Having guys like Mohamed Sanu and Andrew Hawkins keep stepping up will be critical for the Bengals down the stretch.|
|Patriots 37, Bills 31|
|C||Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are so good and just not used as much as they should be -- I know the Bills were down, but only 25 carries combined for them? This was nearly an impressive comeback for a Bills team that refused to die. But Ryan Fitzpatrick can't throw the ball down the field, and this defense is one of the more underwhelming units in all of football.|
|B-||The Patriots' London trip quieted the "they can't close teams out" chatter, and New England still won on Sunday. But it would've been nice to see the Patriots finish off a drive or two and refuse to give the Bills a shot to win this game. The secondary wasn't impressive yet again.|
|Saints 31, Falcons 27|
|C+||Matt Ryan had a chance at another improbable comeback, but they couldn't get it done. Ryan had a huge game through the air, but Atlanta never got it going on the ground and couldn't stop New Orleans' rushing attack. Maybe not the worst first loss of the season.|
|B+||Big win for a team that was buried and is now suddenly back in the playoff hunt. They ran the ball particularly well,Jimmy Graham is 100 percent healthy at this point, and Drew Brees had another big game. Surprisingly effective rushing defense for the Saints.|
|Seahawks 28, Jets 7|
|D||No rushing attack from the Jets and no passing attack either. Their defense did as much as they could but the offense provided nothing -- the only points were on a Muhammad Wilkerson fumble return -- and this is a team that looks absolutely lost at the moment.|
|A||Dominant performance all around for Seattle as they pounded the Jets in every facet. Marshawn Lynch is criminally underrated, Russell Wilson is spectacular at home (11 TDs, no picks this year) and Golden Tate's starting to become a viable weapon. He's got a better arm than Tim Tebow too.|
|Cowboys 38, Eagles 23|
|B||Things got weird when Michael Vick was knocked out -- Morris Claiborne got torched and made a number of crucial mistakes. But the defense and special teams ended up scoring three times and ultimately it was the difference. Nice game from Tony Romo and good effort from Felix Jones. The Cowboys are suddenly back in the playoff hunt.|
|D+||Nick Foles had to throw 32 times and that's not good. He had some good moments but is quite clearly a rookie. The defense continues to struggle and let Felix Jones and Dez Bryant perform well. The quarterback controversy shouldn't be one if Michael Vick's healthy, but that's not necessarily the case. It could only get uglier for Philly from here.|
|Rams 24, 49ers 24|
|C+||The Rams played extremely well for most of the game, pulled off a pair of fake punts, were shockingly effective in the running game, and got to see the offense blossom with the return of Danny Amendola. But they couldn't close and coughed up 17 fourth-quarter points.|
|C-||Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick were a combined 18-for-25, Frank Gore ran for 97 yards but the 49ers are lucky to get out with a tie. The defense's performance is terrifying though, considering how bad the Rams offensive line is; they've now let a lot of guys run the ball well against them and they couldn't stop Amendola.|
|Texas 13, Bears 6|
|B-||The windy and wet conditions were supposed to favor the Bears and their turnover-producing defense. Instead, QB Jay Cutler threw two first-half interceptions before heading to the locker room with a concussion. His replacement, Jason Campbell, didn't have a turnover but he completed just 11 of 19 passes for 94 yards. And it was the offense's inability to get into the end zone that sealed their fate.|
|B+||The Texans are dangerous in Houston but there were questions on if they could compete on the road in a hostile environment in tough playing conditions. They can. It wasn't pretty -- QB Matt Schaub had two bad interceptions but his defense bailed him out by creating three turnovers of their own. The wet field made it tough to get after the quarterback (something the Texans are very good at) but it didn't hinder their ability to cover downfield.|
|Steelers 16, Chiefs 13|
|B||We got a more entertaining game from Kansas City than we had any right to expect, and for as bad as these Chiefs are, they fought hard against Pittsburgh on the road and probably should have come out with the victory. Not surprisingly, Kansas City was overwhelmed by its own bad penalties and an awful overtime interception by Matt Cassel. But the fact the Chiefs finally took a lead bumps up their grade considerably.|
|C-||This game should have been an easy one for Pittsburgh, but the Chiefs obviously had more emotion in the first quarter and absolutely dominated the Steelers through the first 15 minutes. Pittsburgh eventually tied the game before halftime, but the Steelers offense was mostly non-existent (even before Ben Roethlisberger had to leave the game). Luckily for Pittsburgh, the defense was as good as normal.|