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Falcons vs. Saints: What could have been if Julio Jones stayed in the game

Julio Jones left the game yesterday, and took the Falcons' big-play offense.

Otto Greule Jr

It was likely the Atlanta Falcons undefeated streak was going to end, but it seemed a little implausible that it would be against the New Orleans Saints-- even though they're a dangerous (now) three-win team. For fans it's easy to shrug off a single loss, but what could have been will always be pondered, especially with Julio Jones on the sideline.

Early in Sunday's game Julio Jones left for the locker room with a knee injury. At that point the Falcons' receiver had just two receptions for 14 yards. Matt Ryan hadn't integrated him into the offense fully, and while he wasn't getting yards in bunches, it did keep the Saints defense honest and stop stacking the box.

When Jones left the field the offense became wholly routed through Tony Gonzalez, and while he didn't disappoint, the big play potential of Dirk Koetter's offense went to the locker room with Julio. The offense was held scoreless through the entire third quarter, and when Jones returned late in the game he made an immediate impact.

Ultimately, Julio Jones finished with four receptions for 75 yards. He stretched the field, and the Falcons scored ten points in the forth quarter. In the grand scheme of things a single loss is nothing, but if Atlanta can win out, we may all be wondering 'what if'?

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.