Following a 14-yard touchdown pass from QB Drew Brees to TE Jimmy Graham with 34 seconds left at the end of the first half, the Saints lead the Falcons 21-17 at halftime.
Brees has completed 12-of-18 passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns, while Graham has caught five of his passes for 89 yards. RB Chris Ivory has carried three times for 67 yards, including a 56-yard scoring rush. The Saints have held Atlanta to 26 yards on the ground on 12 attempts.
The Falcons won the coin toss and elected to receive to start the contest between NFC South opponents in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
QB Matt Ryan orchestrated the game’s first drive as he led the Falcons 80 yards on seven plays while completing all five of his passes. Ryan completed a play-action pass to T Mike Johnson in the endzone to cap off the drive and K Matt Bryant made the extra point to give Atlanta an early 7-0 lead.
Then, on the Saints first offensive possession, Brees was intercepted by CB Asante Samuel. The Saints defense held Atlanta to a three-and-out and Bryant added three points with a 37-yard field goal.
Then, the Saints took to the ground as RB Mark Ingram rushed for 13 yards, RB Pierre Thomas earned a first down, and then Ivory broke off a 56-yard touchdown run, the longest rush of his career and the longest by a Saint since 2006. K Garrett Hartley made the PAT to close the gap.
After a solid stop by the defense, the Saints offense was able to run down the rest of the first quarter and into the second quarter with an 11-play, 90-yard drive that lasted 5:23. Brees completed all six of his attempts on the drive including a 29-yard touchdown strike to Graham. Hartley made the extra point to give the Saints a 14-10 lead. The touchdown pass pushed Brees’ streak of consecutive games with a TD pass to 52. The reception moved Graham to second on club’s all-time touchdown list by a tight end ahead of Hoby Brenner.
Ryan and the Atlanta offense was able to answer though as Ryan completed his last seven passes while leading a 14 play, 80-yard drive that lasted 7:06 of the second quarter. Ryan was then able to end the drive by completing a two-yard touchdown pass to TE Tony Gonzalez. Bryant added the extra point to give Atlanta a 17-14 second quarter lead.
Brees was able to drive down the field one last time before the end of the half as he led an eight play drive that started just before the two-minute warning. Brees connected with Graham for gains of 18 yards, 15 yards and 14 yards through the air including a touchdown, Graham’s second of the day. The reception moved Graham into a tie for eighth on the club’s all-time receiving touchdown list with Robert Meachem and Donte Stallworth.
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