Saints hand Falcons first loss of season
The New Orleans Saints (4-5) defeated the Atlanta Falcons (8-1), 31-27, Sunday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to hand their NFC South Division rival its first loss of the season.
After starting the regular season 0-4, the Saints (4-5) have now won four of their last five games after earning a victory over the NFL's last undefeated team.
The Saints also have won four straight games against the Falcons (8-1) and 11 of the last 13.
"Big win for our football team - we played a heck of a team in Atlanta," Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said. "I can't say enough about our assistant coaches and the game plan they put in this week."
Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns while completing 21-of-32 attempts.
"I feel like our best football is yet to come," Brees said. "We've played some really good games, we've beaten some very good opponents in some big-time situations, but I truly believe like our best is yet to come."
Running back Chris Ivory carried the football seven times for 72 yards (10.3 avg.) and a touchdown while also catching one pass for 13 yards. Running back Mark Ingram recorded 16 carries for 67 yards.
Tight end Jimmy Graham caught seven passes for a career-best 146 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Lance Moore added 91 receiving yards on seven catches.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins led the team in tackles with 10 (five solo) while also registering three pass defenses.
Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan orchestrated the game's first drive leading Atlanta 80 yards on seven plays and completing all five of his passes capped off by a touchdown to Mike Johnson.
Asante Samuel intercepted Brees on the Saints first possession but New Orleans held the Falcons to a field goal.
Ivory broke off a 56-yard touchdown run, the longest rush of his career and the longest by a Saint since 2006 on the next possession.
Brees completed all six of his attempts on the Saints next 11-play, 90-yard drive including a 29-yard touchdown strike to Graham. The touchdown pass pushed Brees' streak of consecutive games with a scoring pass to 52 and the reception moved Graham to second on club's all-time touchdown list by a tight end ahead of Hoby Brenner.
Ryan and Atlanta answered with a two-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez but Brees found Graham again before the half for another touchdown to Graham into a tie for eighth on the club's all-time receiving touchdown list with Robert Meachem and Donte Stallworth.
Corey White had an interception on the first drive of the second half for the Saints and Brees' 7-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston, his 55th career score tying Deuce McAllister for first on the club's all-time touchdown list, capped the ensuing possession.
"He's obviously a mainstay around here," Brees said. "He's already become the all-time touchdown leader for receiving touchdowns in Saints history, and I'm sure by the time it's all said and done, he'll be the most decorated Saints receiver of all time."
Ryan's 6-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez cut it to 28-24 before a field goal cut the deficit to one after a 52-yard reception by Julio Jones.
A 46-yard reception by Graham set up a 31-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley that reflected the final tally with 5:54 remaining.