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Falcons Defense Ends Saints, Brees Streaks

Atlanta Falcons defenders celebrate Jonathan Babineaux's interception of Drew Brees.

The notion that all streaks come to an end is as true as death and income taxes. For Saints fans, April 15, is far more welcomed than having their four game winning streak over the Atlanta Falcons end. By the look on some of the faces of New Orleans fans in the stands, the 23-13 loss Thursday night in the Georgia Dome was about as close to death anyone breathing wants to get.

On the other side of that coin, the win was a hair shy of nirvana for Atlanta Falcons fans. “Tonight that was a really good win for our football team,” said Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith.

Along with ending the Saints win streak, the Falcons ended Drew Brees’ streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Brees attempted 50 passes completing 33 of them, 5 of them to Falcons defenders. “Five interceptions against one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, that’s an amazing feeling,” said Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. “We knew if we could get up in these receivers’ faces that we had a chance to dominate the football game.”

The domination started on the Falcons first drive. Atlanta put together a 6 play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown on their first possession. Michael Turner carried three times for 43 yards and the score.

Matt Ryan added a 17 yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez in the opening minute of the second quarter to cap a 5 play 49 yard drive. Gonzalez went up over former Falcons and current Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton. Ryan passed for just 165 yards on 18 completions out of 33 attempts.

New Orleans gave up three more points on a 45 yard Matt Bryant field goal before finally getting on the board. Brees and company put together an 80 yard drive built largely around a tremendous 32 yard catch by Lance Moore between two defenders. Mixing up the pass and run kept the Falcons defense off balance. Pierre Thomas nearly scored on a 10 yard run until an official review ruled the Saints running back’s knee was down prior to the ball crossing the goal line. Backfield-mate Mark Ingram carried it in from the half yard line.

The Saints mounted another potential scoring drive before the end of the first half but ran out of time inside the Atlanta 10 yard line. It was a mistake breeze would later regret. “Honestly I thought we had more time than we did,” said Brees. “Last time I looked at the clock I saw 17 seconds and next thing you know I thought we had time to throw one underneath and clock it but then the clock was down to 7 when I looked back up and that wasn’t enough time to get the strike. That’s my mistake.

Every good rivalry has its ebbs and flows in momentum. The second half of the game proved just that. New Orleans tightened up the distance scoring on their first two drives of the third quarter.

As the momentum swung over to the black and gold visitors so did the volume of the Saints fan base in attendance. In his pre-game charge, Brees shouted to his team, “This is our division. We know it and they know it.” The pep talk may have been alluding to the four game winning streak the Saints were attempting to preserve over the Falcons. Dating back to 2007, New Orleans had won 6 of 7 matchups with Atlanta that were decided by 7 points or less. They had been here before but so had the Falcons. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say thoughts of going that way, and getting a loss again even though we jumped out to that lead; it crept up in our minds,” said Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. Well, at least my mind on the sideline. I still had faith.”

Faith in his teammate’s ability to make plays perhaps? With two interceptions already under their belt, Gonzalez had every reason to have faith in the Atlanta defense.

Falcons’ safety William Moore proved him right stepping inside of Devery Henderson to pick off Brees for the third time in the game and setup the first score of the second half. Atlanta got as far as the 11 yard line before settling for Bryant’s second field goal of the game to push the lead to seven. Bryant came back a series later to nail a herculean 55 yarder and extend the lead to 10.

Down two scores and less than 5 minutes to play, the Saints Brees went to the air. Only this time the Falcons defense was up to the challenge. Defensive lineman Kroy Biermann grabbed Brees from behind forcing an awkward throw that landed in the hands of Jonathan Babineaux.

Game over, right? Not by a long shot. After one of his most productive games in a long time, Michael Turner fumbled the ball back to the Saints. The Saints were given yet another chance to go for a miracle. One Corey Peters nearly snuffed out snatching a short pass intended for Darren Sproles. A penalty on Jon Abraham for leaving to early nullified the interception.

The penalty only postponed the inevitable. On the very next play, Moore picked off Brees for his second time, the fifth overall, closing out the game and any hopes of a Saints miracle comeback.






Atlanta Falcons 23 vs New Orleans Saints 13
SLIDESHOW




  • The Saints amass in the tunnel prior to introductions.

  • Saints TE Jimmy Graham gets focused away from his teammates in the tunnel before introductions.

  • The Saints receiving corps enters the field after a brief huddle.

  • Michael Turner busts loose over the right side for a 35 yard gain on the second play of the game.

  • Michael Turner dashes through a hole in the left for a 5 yard gain.

  • Jaquizz Rodgers runs through a huge hole over the left side for a 14 yard gain.

  • Jaquizz Rodgers goes airborn to the 3 yard line after a consecutive 14 yard run.

  • Saints receiver Lance Moore holds on to a 32 yard pass from Drew Brees.

  • Thomas DeCoud intercepts the pass from Drew Brees to Marques Colston in the endzone.

  • Saints CB Patrick Robinson holds on to Falcons WR Roddy White's left arm while the receiver reaches out for the pass from Matt Ryan with his right.

  • Falcons DB Robert McClain dives in to get a hold of Chris Ivory's leg.

  • Saints RB Pierre Thomas weaves through traffic looking for rushing yards.

  • Falcons WR Harry Douglas turns into a defensive back to knock the ball away from Saints DB malcom Jenkins.

  • Kroy Biermann and Stephen Nicholas sandwich Drew Brees in the backfield.

  • Saints DB Patrick Robinson wraps up Falcons WR Julio Jones.

  • Tony Gonzalez makes a leaping touchdown grab over former Falcons and current Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.

  • Atlanta defenders swarm in to tackle New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas.

  • Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon tries to free himself from a tackler after intercepting Drew Brees.

  • Falcons DB Robert McClain reacts after a teammate's interception.

  • Lance Moore holds onto a pass as Sean Weatherspoon comes over to help make the stop.

  • Falcons DB Chris Owens knocks the deep ball way from Saints WR Joseph Morgan.

  • Falcons DB Chris Owens goes up to shield the ball from a Saints receiver.

  • Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud flies in to make the tackle on Saints receiver Marques Colston.

  • Falcons safety William Moore tackles Saints RB Pierre Thomas short of the goal line and gets flagged for a facemask penalty.

  • Saints RB Mark Ingram goes over the top of the line for a touchdown.

  • Saints DL Cameron Jordan takes Falcons QB Matt Ryan to the ground.

  • Falcons safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore sandwich Saints WR Marques Colston.

  • Saints RB Darren Sproles turns the corner pursued by several Falcons defenders.

  • Falcons safety William Moore delivers a huge hit to jar the ball away from Saints RB Darren Sproles.

  • Falcons QB Matt Ryan avoids the reach of Saints defensive lineman Akiem Hicks.

  • Saints RB Darren Sproles pops loose on a kick off return. Falcons LB Akeem Dent makes a touchdown saving tackle.

  • Falcons safety William Moore spins off a potential tackle after intercepting Drew Brees pass intended for Devery Henderson.

  • Falcons WR Roddy White looks in the pass from Matt Ryan.

  • Falcons DE John Abraham chases and tackles Saints TE Jimmy Graham.

  • Falcons WR Julio Jones sends Saints DL Will Smith to the turf with a stiff arm and continues looking for yards after the catch.

  • Falcons RB Jason Snelling runs upfield after making the catch.

  • Falcons DE Kroy Biermann grabs Saints QB Drew Brees from behind, altering the pass that DT Jonathan Babineaux was able to intercept.




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