The New Orleans Saints played without running back Alvin Kamara for most of their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Atlanta Falcons. His absence proved costly as the Falcons (8-5) rallied for a 20-17 victory to move within one game of the Saints (9-4), who lead the NFC South.
Kamara had to leave the field during the opening drive after suffering a blow to his head on a run. He was sent to the medical tent, then went to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. The Saints announced that he does have a concussion and would not return to the game.
His performance since the Saints traded running back Adrian Peterson has him in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Going into Thursday night, Kamara has rushed for 606 yards and 7 touchdowns while averaging 7 yards a carry, along with 59 receptions for 614 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Saints also lost guard Senio Kelemete for the rest of the game with a concussion. Linebacker A.J. Klein, defensive end Trey Hendrickson and safety Kenny Vaccaro are questionable to return with injury.
Kamara and an improved defense are the main reasons for the Saints becoming one of the best teams in the NFL after three consecutive 7-9 seasons. Going into their Thursday night matchup against the Falcons, they were 9-3 this season. They were leading the Falcons 17-10 midway through the third quarter but Atlanta stormed back for 10 points in the fourth quarter behind quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Saints’ final three games are against the New York Jets and Falcons at home followed by a season finale on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They should be able to hold onto a playoff berth, but it will be hard to overtake the Minnesota Vikings for the No. 2 seed without Kamara.