NFL Game Summary - New Orleans at Atlanta|
(Thursday, November 29th)
Final Score: Atlanta 23, New Orleans 13
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - The Atlanta Falcons made a statement Thursday
night, picking off New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees a career-high five times
and ending his remarkable consecutive games streak with a touchdown pass in a
23-13 victory over the Saints at the Georgia Dome.
Matt Ryan completed 18-of-33 passes for 165 yards with a touchdown for the
Falcons (11-1), who avenged their lone defeat of the season and snapped a
four-game losing streak to the Saints.
"That was a really good win for our football team. I felt our defense played a
tremendous game," said Atlanta coach Mike Smith.
Atlanta can clinch the NFC South Division title with a Tampa Bay loss or tie
at Denver on Sunday. A loss or tie by Seattle at Chicago on Sunday will secure
a playoff spot for the Falcons.
New Orleans (5-7), meanwhile, saw its playoff hopes become even slimmer with
its second straight loss.
Brees, who had 341 passing yards, failed to throw a touchdown pass for the
first time since Week 4 of the 2009 campaign, snapping a his NFL-record streak
at 54 games.
Garrett Hartley connected on field goals of 21 and 52 yards to draw the Saints
within 17-13 in the third quarter.
Brees was intercepted on the next New Orleans drive and safety William
Moore's return placed the ball at the Saints' 41-yard line.
Ryan moved the chains with an 18-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons had
gone the previous five possessions without registering a first down.
The drive stalled in the red zone and Matt Bryant nailed a 29-yard field goal
12 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Brees then led the team down the field, from the Saints' 20 to the Falcons'
32, but Pierre Thomas was wrapped up for a 4-yard loss on 2nd-and-1 before
defensive end John Abraham sacked Brees to knock New Orleans out of field goal
Bryant drilled a 55-yarder on the ensuing drive with 4:25 remaining.
Two Brees interceptions were sandwiched around a fumble by Atlanta running
back Michael Turner, who had the ball stripped on a second-effort drive
forward. Rafael Bush recovered and scored on a 71-yard touchdown. The play was
reversed, however, with Bush being ruled down by contact.
On the first play after the 2-minute warning, Moore picked off a deep pass
along the left sideline, sealing the win.
"It's extremely disappointing," Brees said about the turnovers. "I pride
myself on being a great decision maker and a guy that's going to help us win
the game and not be a detriment by turning the ball over like that."
The Falcons' first drive of the game looked effortless as they never even
faced third down.
Following a near-interception on the first play of the game, Turner, who had
been held to 15 yards on 13 carries in a 31-27 loss at New Orleans on Nov. 11,
blazed for 35 yards over right tackle on second down.
Four plays later, all via the ground, Turner powered his way into the end zone
from three yards out to become the Falcons' all-time touchdown leader with 58.
He had been tied with wideout Terance Mathis for the most overall touchdowns
in team history.
Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel, who was listed as questionable because of a
shoulder injury, re-injured his shoulder on the Saints' opening possession
after Brees completed a downfield strike to Joe Morgan on third down. The play
covered 38 yards, but safety Thomas DeCoud picked off Brees' next pass in the
The Falcons extended their lead 52 seconds into the second quarter. Ryan
completed all four of his passes on a drive that started at midfield, the last
one being caught over the middle by Gonzalez for a 17-yard score.
Unlike earlier in the game, Atlanta was able to cash in a second Brees
interception. Brees threw a screen pass that caromed off Chris Ivory and
linebacker Sean Weatherspoon hauled in the deflection. His modest return set
up a first down at the New Orleans 29.
The Saints' defense held, though, and Bryant kicked a 45-yard field goal
to put Atlanta up 17-0 with 8:53 remaining.
New Orleans found some traction on the ensuing drive, but a penalty and
mismanagement of the clock cost the team additional points prior to halftime.
Mark Ingram capped the 11-play march with a 1-yard plunge, and after their
defense forced a three-and-out, the Saints threatened again in the waning
Brees connected with Darren Sproles for a 7-yard touchdown, but Jimmy Graham
was flagged for pass interference. Brees went back to Sproles for a 12-yard
gain on 1st-and-goal.
Well aware that they were out of timeouts, the Saints displayed little urgency
in getting up to the line. And the complacency wound up costing them when
Sproles was tackled at the Atlanta 3-yard line after another short reception.
The half expired before Brees was able to spike the ball.
"That's my mistake, that can't happen...I thought I had more time than we
did," Brees admitted.
The Falcons have won 10 in a row at home ... Brees recorded his 63rd career
300-yard passing game, tying Dan Marino for second place in NFL history ...
Turner had 12 rushes for 83 yards ... Thomas carried 14 times for 84 yards ...
New Orleans' Lance Moore led all receivers with 123 yards on seven grabs.
11/30 01:21:03 ET