Aaaaah. There's not a whole lot more satisfying than strutting into the Georgia Dome, bending Roddy White over, and shoving something unpleasant right up his ass. Am I right, Ray Edwards? High five!

So why is it that I'm still having a hell of a difficult time mustering up the usual levels of #wegotthis, even as the Saints enter the bye week 7-3 with a "game and a half" lead in the NFC South, and riding a 2-game win streak, both against divisional opponents? Is it because the better team lost? Nope. It's because the better team probably should have lost.

Let's be real here, you'd need both hands to tally up the number of times Atlanta shit the bed Sunday. And Mike Smith's decision to go for it on 4th down at his own 30 in overtime was possibly the least egregious of the bunch.

An onside kick with 4:13 remaining and only down 3? Really? Eric Weems fair-catching a punt at his own 6 with 1:55 remaining? #RodneyWhite dropping a pass right into the arms of Scott Shanle(!!!) at his own 38? (This after having been flagged for offensive pass interference on the previous play. Nice. Good stuff there, #Rodney. You're a fuckin' beast.)

Missing a 41-yard field goal (at home, indoors) on the last play of the first half. 10 penalties for 85 yards, including 3 on punts, one of which was out of bounds and another which was a fair catch. (3 penalties for 30 yards on Roddy all by himself, by the way.) Crappy clock management. And that's not even counting two fumbles that both bounced out of bounds, and an interception in the end zone on the Falcons' last drive that would have ended the game in regulation if Roman Harper weren't such a no-catching motherfucker. (Sigh.)

In fact, the second half of the fourth quarter and overtime seemed a lot like a battle of which team was more determined to piss away the win. The Saints gave it their best shot, but Atlanta dug deep and found a way. High five! Or something.

Hey, don't get me wrong, I'll take a gift-wrapped win every single week as long as the opponent is willing to oblige. And I'll especially take a gift-wrapped win on the road against a divisional opponent. And in the Georgia Dome against Matty, Roddy, Ray-Ray and that merry band of queers? What's not to love?

I'm just saying, I'm not about to delude myself into thinking that was some kind of particularly strong performance from our heroes. They got lucky. And that's great, nothing wrong with that. But that's what it was.

Hell, I'll even give the Saints credit for whatever truth there might be to the notion that they're in the Falcons' (and specifically, Mike Smith's) heads at this point, after having won 9 of the last 11 against them and 5 of the last 6 in the Georgia Dome. There's probably something to that, and to whatever extent it was a factor in the Saints stealing (or being handed) this win, then good on 'em for having laid the groundwork for it over the last half-decade. Sure did come in handy.

"Damn you've been grumpy lately, Wang. Did you not see the Saints defense dominate the Falcons for 53 minutes of regulation and all of overtime? They held Michael Turner, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez under 100 yards. They sacked Matty Ice once and intercepted him once. The Falcons were 5 for 16 on 3rd down, 0 for 3 in the red zone and 0 for 1 on goal-to-go. They forced the Falcons to settle for short field goals 3 times and a kinda-sorta long one which they missed. The Saints led most of the game, and had a 2-score lead with less than 5 minutes left. Then they held the Falcons twice in overtime, including stuffing them on 4th & inches to pretty much seal the deal."

Yeah. How do I know the Falcons offense kinda blows? That's how.

Well, that and their 12th ranked total offense, 12th ranked passing offense, 12th ranked rushing offense and 15th ranked scoring offense. Matty Ice's 15th ranked passer rating of 83.0, his 10 INTs to 14 TDs, his 21st ranked 60.1 completion percentage, and on and on like that.

Still, you'd have to be some kind of idiot to not realize that the defense kicked a bunch of ass Sunday, right? I mean, they only allowed the Falcons' offense to put up 481 yards of offense, a mere 119 yards above the Falcons' season average after Sunday. (And only 17 of those were in overtime, so it wasn't because of the extra football.)

I mean, it's not like the defense allowed more rushing yards, more passing yards and more points than their own already-crappy defensive season-long averages even after Sunday. While pissing away a 2-score 4th quarter lead in 7 minutes. To a middling offense. Who repeatedly shit the bed.

Did I mention that they pissed away a 2-score lead with 7 minutes remaining in the 4th? Because, yeah, that happened.

"Yeah, but if it weren't for all the ass the defense was kicking for the first 53 minutes of the game, the Saints never would have had the chance to win the game in the first place! They'd have gotten blown out in regulation."

Yeah, and boy does that give me the warm & fuzzies. Or something. Urge to kill, fading. Preciate the pep talk there.

Say, just one more question… what the fuck difference does that make if they just turn around and piss away a 2-score lead with 7 minutes left? Is it supposed to make me feel better that the defense wasn't quite able to completely snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and "gave the Saints a chance" in overtime by allowing only 10 points in the final 7 minutes? Really? Urge to kill, rising.

But hey, all's well that ends well, right? After all, as the defense never tires of telling us after a win, they "made the plays when they needed to." Am I right, Roman Harper?

I mean, if Roman hadn't dropped that gimme interception, the Saints never would have had the chance to win it in overtime. (Thank goodness though for Scott Shanle, who is clearly the catchingest motherfucker on this here defense.)

One of these days, somebody on this defense is gonna slip up while beating his chest and inadvertently tell the truth: "We made the plays when the middling-to-shitty opponent's incompetence was at its peak."

And then there was the 4th & 1 in overtime, in which the defense decided to "Rise Up" and stuff Michael Turner on a play that ordinarily goes for about 30 or so yards. Almost as shocking as the play going for -1 rather than 30+ was the absence of some kind of bullshit (or, almost as likely, a well-deserved) flag on the play, giving the Falcons the first down anyway.

My real-time reaction? "How much weirder can this game get?" Same applies to the season as a whole at this point. It's all just so fuckin' bizarre, and it just gets crazier with each passing game.

I said it Sunday afternoon, but since you weren't there I guess I'll just have to settle for echoing the comments of other smart folks who went public with it before I did: I'm gonna have to go ahead and refrain from second-guessing Mike Smith on the call to go for it. It was the right thing to do.

Not because of the fear of giving the ball back to Drew and the Saints' offense. (Though that was correctly a factor.) Not because advanced stats show that the odds are on your side going for it on 4th & inches in pretty much any game situation, and coaches leaguewide would be wise to sack up and quit being pussies and go for it on 4th & 1 pretty much all the time.

Certainly not because the reward outweighed the risk in that specific situation, on your own 30 in overtime. Because clearly the opposite was true, the risk outweighed the reward by a shitload. It's not like the game was over if they had converted, but the game was pretty much certainly over if they failed. I get it.

The reason it was the right call is because the "risk" was overblown in the first place. Saints homers were the only people on the planet who thought there was any chance in hell that the Falcons wouldn't convert there, and only about 1% of Saints homers at that. And if you're part of that 1%, then feel free to go ahead and call me an asshole or a "fake fan" or whatever does it for ya. I probably deserve it, because I'm gonna go ahead and pre-emptively assert that if you claim to have called #wegotthis at the time, there's about a 99% chance that you're lying. Either that, or that play was the first Saints football you've seen this year.

"It was a one in a million shot, Doc. One in a million."

Smith's mistake was voluntarily moving the ball backwards from the line of scrimmage in that situation. That and that alone. On 4th & 2 you do that, if only out of necessity. But on 4th & inches? Voluntarily moving the ball backwards, in my opinion, is the foolish part.

But hey, I'll take it. A win is a win. #Rodney's got something unpleasant lodged in his colon, which may or may not have been made out of fusilli pasta. Ray Edwards is still an Assman. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) And as glorious as all that is, what's really important is that the Saints escaped with a win that, gift-wrapped though it might have been, counts every bit as much as that 62-7 win over the Colts. Even moreso, given that it was a division win on the road.

And they're damn sure gonna need it. Because, this just in: that was the Falcons' last loss until Christmas.

Their next 5 games are Jake Locker and the Titans at home, Christian Ponder and the 2-7 Vikings at home, the Fightin' Matt Leinarts, 2-7 Camrolina, and Blaine Gabbert and the 3-6 Jagwires at home.

Guh.

That's 4 rookie quarterbacks and Matt Leinart. Three opponents with 6 or more losses already. The Falcons are pretty crappy, but not nearly crappy enough to drop any of those games.

Unless they forget to Bring The Wood, that is. Or something. I have it on good authority though that Ray-Ray never forgets to bring his wood. Hell, my friend at the TSA tells me that Ray-Ray usually has at least 3 or 4 *ahem* "backups" in his luggage, just in case. NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT!

Meantime, it's nice that the Saints are sitting at 7-3 and have a "one and a half game lead" (it annoys the hell out of me to apply that phrasing to football.) And a TWO-GAME LEAD(!!!) if you're one of those people who's inclined to count one win over a team you're scheduled to play again later as some sort of fait accompli "we own the tiebreaker!!!" type of situation. (Which I'm not, because that's pretty stupid. The Saints will "own the tiebreaker" when they get the sweep. Until then, all the first win means is that it's impossible for the Falcons to get the head-to-head tiebreaker.) Good stuff.

But don't get too comfortable though. By Monday, that lead is gonna be back to only one game.

And while the admittedly shitty Falcons are posting 2-point wins over the 2-7 Vikings and the Fightin' Matt Leinarts the two weeks following that, the Saints are gonna have to go 2-0 over the 6-3 Giants and the 6-3 Lions.

Because if they don't? We're right back at square one.

With two games left in the regular season.

With this defense.

Are you not frightened?

You should be.

The good news? In the end, surely #Rodney and Mike Smith will figure out a way to fuck it all up. High five?

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