QB Drew Brees is 18-of-26 passing for 230 yards and three touchdowns through the first three quarters and TE Jimmy Graham has brought in two touchdown grabs as the Saints hold a 28-17 lead over the Falcons.
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.
CB Corey White came up with an interception on the Falcon’s first possession of the second half that led to long scoring drive for the black and gold. Brees gained three first downs through the air while Ingram added 20 yards on the ground. Brees finally found WR Marques Colston for a seven-yard touchdown, the 55th touchdown of Colston’s career. The score put Colston tied with RB Deuce McAllister for first on the club’s all-time touchdown list. Hartley made the extra point to give the Saints a 28-17 third quarter lead.
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