Saints Defense Win The Game; Three Interceptions Set Tone In 35-27 Win Over The Atlanta Falcons
By Keith Null
The Saints came away with another hard win over the Atlanta Falcons in what was a nail biter of a game that went right down to the wire.
For the second straight week New Orleans overcame adversity to win even after turning the ball over to the Falcons four times throughout the course of the game (3 fumbles and 1 interception).
Atlanta opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 77 yard drive fueled by running back Micheal Turner who accounted for 38 yards of the drive including the 13 yard touchdown run.
New Orleans countered with any 80 yard drive of their own capped off by a 22 yard touchdown run from running back Pierre Thomas. Thomas ran up the middle, broke a few tackles, and then side stepped into the end zone for the score.
At this point it looked as if the Saints and the Falcons were going to go blow for blow but you can’t jump into the ring with the heavyweight champ and expect not to get knocked out.
New Orleans would force the Falcons to punt, punter Matt Koenen pinned the Saints right outside of their own goal line. On a first and five play, after a defensive offsides call, Brees was sacked on a delayed blitz by safety Thomas DeCoud. The sack caused a fumble that was recovered by Kroy Bierman for the touchdown.
Atlanta got away with a cheap shot on Brees on this play because when DeCoud came throught the middle he lead with his helmet and nearly decapitated Brees during the helmet to helmet collision.
Atlanta would not score again in the first half but the Saints would score three more times before the half time, two from the offense and one from the defense.
Brees engineered two more 80 yard drives, the first was capped off by an 18 yard touchdown pass to receiver Marques Colston and the second ended when running back Reggie Bush walked into the end zone from a yard out to make the sccore 21-14.
Atlanta would get the ball back right before the half and attempt to move down the field for a quick score or field goal, on a second and six play corner Jabari Greer stepped in front of a pass intended for Roddy White and took it back 48 yards for the defensive touchdown and a two possession lead at 28-14.
New Orleans was held scoreless the third quarter after kicker John Carney missed a 37 yard field goal.
Atlanta managed to score a touchdown on a deep pass to Roddy White, Ryan threw for White down field and it appeared Greer was in nice position to defend the pass, but right as the ball arrived White pushed off of Greer and created enough space to make the catch followed by the score.
That would mark the second time the Falcons were given a score as offensive pass interference was not called on White for the push off just as the helmet to helmet hit on Brees was not called on DeCoud in the first half.
The Saints would tighten up in the fourth quarter holding Atlanta to only two field goals while managing to score again when Brees hit Thomas on a short pass in the flat which he ran and vaulted into the end zone for the score.
Perhaps the biggest play in the fourth quarter was made by corner Tracy Porter when in intercepted a pass intended for Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez on the one yards line. The interception preserved the Saints lead and marked the second pick of Matt Ryan in the game.
Porter’s play is what setup the Saints last scoring drive, the pass to Thomas in the flat, the Saints third 80 plus yard drive in the game.
Ultimately the Falcons were unable to muster enough offensive effort to overcome the Saints lead, even with the Saints fumbling twice in the fourth quarter and failing to recover the onside kick.
The Falcons, down by eight, would try once more to push the ball down the field but with time expiring Ryan threw a deep pass down the field in hopes of a reception. It was caught alright by safety Darren Sharper, his seventh pick of the season.
The interception iced the game as Brees would come out with three seconds remaining and take a knee, Saints 35 Atlanta 27.
All in all the Saints would finish with 437 total yards of offense, 308 through the air and 146 on the ground. Brees was 25/33 for 308 yards and two touchdowns to only one interception. Thomas was the leading rusher with 91 yards on 14 carries for one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown.
Defensively the Saints allowed 442 yards to the Falcons and it was clear that defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis was missed as Michael Turner rushed for 151 yards and one touchdown. Previously the Saints has not allowed a one hundred yard rusher and had only been allowing 91 yards a game through the first six games.
However the Saints sacked Matt Ryan three times and also intercepted him three times, including the lead saving pick by Tracy Porter. Their effort late in the third and through the fourth quarter kept them in the game and Atlanta out of the end zone.
If you would like to see the entire breakdown of the Atlanta @ Saints game follow this link to view the game center on NFL.com or this link to view the game book for a detailed breakdown of all the stats.
The Saints 7-0 start matches the most successful start of the franchise dating back to the Mora era and the storied Dome Patrol. New Orleans will once again host an NFC South opponent when they take on the 3-4 Carolina Panthers and the turnover happy Jake Delhomme this Sunday.
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