The New Orleans Saints (5-7) fell to the Atlanta Falcons (11-1) 23-13 at the Georgia Dome Thursday night.
The Saints will play another game on the road next weekend as they will face the New York Giants on December 9th.
“I take full responsibility for this loss,” Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt said after the game. “I didn’t do a good job of preparing our football team to come in here and get the job done. We will go back to work tomorrow. The future as far as the playoffs go looks bleak right now but we are still going to work to get better every day. That is our responsibilities as coaches and that’s what we will do.”
QB Drew Brees’ NFL-record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass came to an end at 54 Thursday night. Brees completed 28 of 50 attempts for 341 yards and a career-high five interceptions.
RB Pierre Thomas carried the football 14 times for 84 yards (6.0 avg.) and RB Mark Ingram was able to carry the ball into the endzone in the second quarter.
WR Lance Moore hauled in seven passes for 123 yards (17.6 avg.) while WR Marques Colston added 71 yards on six catches.
LB Curtis Lofton led the team in tackles with eight (four solo) and DE Cameron Jordan added five stops (four solo) and a sack for a loss of six yards.
The Saints outgained the Falcons 436-283 and picked up nine more first downs than Atlanta. The black and gold defense was able to hold to the Falcons to just 1-11 on third down but the Falcons won the turnover battle 5-1.
Atlanta began the contest between NFC South opponents with the football and was able to move down the field for a touchdown on the game’s opening possession.
RB Michael Turner was able to break away on a run for 35 yards while RB Jacquizz Rodgers was able to pick up 28 yards on two carries. Turner capped off the 80-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run and K Matt Bryant added the extra point to give the Falcons an early 7-0 lead.
After a touchback, Brees and the Saints offense took the field for the first time of the day. Brees was able to move the ball into Atlanta territory but a second down strike intended for Colston was intercepted in the endzone by S Thomas DeCoud.
At the end of the first quarter, Atlanta took possession of the ball inside New Orleans territory after a solid punt return. QB Matt Ryan was able to connect on all four of his attempts and hit TE Tony Gonzalez in the back of the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Bryant added on the PAT to increase Atlanta’s lead to 14-0 at the start of the second quarter.
After the Saints defense forced a three-and-out, Brees dropped back to attempt a play action pass on first down. The ball, intended for RB Chris Ivory, was tipped and intercepted by LB Sean Weatherspoon. The Falcons offense couldn’t move the chains and Bryant made a 45-yard field goal to give Atlanta a 17-0 advantage.
The Saints were able to pick up some offensive rhythm on their next possession as Brees connected on three first downs through the air including a 32-yard completion to Moore who made a great catch in the middle of the field. Ingram capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run and K Garrett Hartley made the extra point to bring the score to 17-7 with less than four minutes remaining in the first half.
After forcing an Atlanta three-and-out, aided by a sack of Ryan by Jordan for a loss of six yards, the Saints received the ball with less than three minutes on the clock. Brees completed five of six passes for 78 yards but time expired in the first half to stop the Saints drive at the Atlanta three-yard line.
The Saints received the football to start the second half. The black and gold picked up six first downs on a 15-play drive that set up a 21-yard field goal by Hartley that brought the game within one touchdown.
After forcing another Falcons three-and-out, Thomas was able to gain 24 yards on the ground to set up Hartley’s second field goal attempt of the game. Hartley made the 52-yard try and brought the score to 17-13.
Brees then threw his third interception of the game toward the end of the third quarter as S William Moore was able to pick off a pass intended for WR Devery Henderson and returned it 16 yards the other way.
Ryan then connected on two deep passes to Gonzalez and WR Roddy White for first downs before the Saints defense tightened up in the red zone. The Falcons were held to a field goal and Bryant made a 29-yard attempt to increase the Atlanta lead to 20-13.
Late in the fourth quarter, Bryant added a 55-yard field goal with 4:25 remaining to increase the Falcons lead to 10 points.
With one last chance, Brees was pressured by DE Kroy Biermann and his throw was intercepted by DT Jonathan Babineaux with 3:39 remaining in the game.
Then, on the next play, Turner carried for six yards but was stripped. The fumble was recovered by S Rafael Bush.
Inside the two-minute warning, Brees was intercepted by Moore on a deep pass intended for Colston. Atlanta was able to run out clock to give the Falcons a 23-13 win.
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