For the New Orleans Saints, Monday night's home contest with the Atlanta Falcons was meant to be a commemoration of perhaps the most famous special-teams play in franchise history. Ten years ago, on this very week, against this very team, Steve Gleason blocked a Falcons punt, and then Curtis Deloatch scooped it up and ran back for the touchdown in the Saints' triumphant win in their first game in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. The play meant so much to New Orleans that it is now depicted in a statue outside the Superdome.
The setting may have been familiar, but the Saints' punt coverage was juuuuust a bit worse this time around. Not only did they fail to block the punt—no big deal, as punt blocks are an extremely rare commodity—they coughed up the football in the most ridiculous manner possible.
Punt returner Tommy Lee Lewis got trucked by teammate De'Vante Harris just before the ball arrived—an embarrassing but not fatal error. Unfortunately, Harris mistakenly believed that the ball had touched either himself or Lewis on their way down. He tried to grab the ball as he stood up but lost it when he got hit, allowing Falcons linebacker LaRoy Reynolds to pounce on the ball at the Saints 11-yard line.
The Falcons, who trailed 7-0 at the time, scored soon after and never trailed again, taking home a 45-32 road win.
The symmetry of the 2006 punt and the 2016 punt was not lost on Atlanta's Jonathan Babineaux, the only Falcon to play in both games:
''The only thing I can remember is that punt that was blocked pretty much electrified the whole dome. They had the momentum the rest of the game, and it was all for them. This time, we got it, and we kept it.''