Suddenly flawed Falcons part of an imperfection convection

Atlanta was two yards from a 9-0 record when a fourth-down pass was batted down by New Orleans. There was plenty of imperfect play elsewhere, especially in San Francisco, where the 49ers and Rams bumbled to the first NFL tie since 2008.

What's the sound when perfection goes poof?

Sunday, it was a thud, as New Orleans cornerback Jabari Greer batted away a fourth-down pass by the Atlanta Falcons, who were two yards away from a touchdown that would have kept them undefeated.

From 8-0 to 9 and ... oh, no!

So nobody's perfect in the NFL — but, on the opening weekend of the season's second half, there was ample imperfection to go around.

It was a comedy of errors on both sides when St. Louis went to overtime at San Francisco.

On the Rams' opening possession of the extra period, an 80-yard pass play to Danny Amendola was wiped out by an illegal formation.

When the 49ers got the ball back, they blew a chance to win when the typically accurate David Akers missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt.

St. Louis got the ball back, drove into position to win with a long field goal, and rookie sensation Greg Zuerlein drilled a 53-yarder … but the field goal was negated by a delay-of-game penalty. The Rams were pushed back five yards, and Zuerlein missed wide.

The game ultimately ended at 24-24, the league's first deadlock since Philadelphia played to a tie in Cincinnati four years ago.

Sunday in Cincinnati, there was no such balance.

The New York Giants, who a few weeks ago looked like the cream of the NFL, got, well, creamed. The Giants lost at Cincinnati, 31-13, and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes to four receivers.

The defending Super Bowl champions stagger into the bye with consecutive losses and a star quarterback who has lost his luster. Eli Manning had two interceptions that led to touchdowns and was sacked a season-high four times. That, after a sputtering performance against Pittsburgh a week earlier.

"No, I'm not worried," Manning said. "Over the years, we've gone through stretches where we haven't played our best football and we've been able to bounce out of that, and that's what's going on right now."

A familiar feeling? Atlanta Coach Mike Smith can relate. His Falcons teams are 2-7 against the Saints, counting Sunday's 31-27 loss.

"It's not like they came out and won a game today," frustrated Falcons receiver Roddy White said. "I think we kind of gave it to them."

Moot point. The Saints are relevant again. The Falcons are good but not perfect. And the teams meet again in Atlanta at the end of the month.

Oh, and Greer kept his job. He confessed afterward that he was worried about his future with the team after giving up two long passes earlier in the game.

"I was kind of depressed before that play," he said of his game-clinching knockdown. "I saw my name on the waiver wire.... Being able to go out there and make a play for our team and be able to celebrate after everything that happened and just to win that way, it's a gift."

For the Saints, a perfect one.

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