Chris Graythen

Saints vs. Falcons: Atlanta knocks off New Orleans 23-13

The Falcons and Saints are set for a showdown on Thursday Night Football.

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6 Total Updates since November 29, 2012
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Asante Samuel aggravates shoulder injury vs. NO

Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel aggravated a shoulder injury on the New Orleans Saints' opening drive of Thursday night's game and is questionable for Week 14.

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Falcons earn win no. 11 over Brees, rival Saints

In what has become a running theme all season long, the Atlanta Falcons won ugly tonight, but its defense most certainly came to play.

Drew Brees, though he completed 28 passes for 341 yards, also threw five interceptions and was kept out of the end zone for the first time since 2009.

William Moore claimed two of those picks as his own, and despite some spotty coverage, his 11 tackles and two pass deflections make for a very impressive night.

The same goes for the rest of the secondary, who all stepped up in Asante Samuel's absence and forced Brees to accomplish the only five interception game of his entire career. Credit Mike Nolan with some brilliant scheming.

The defensive line, specifically John Abraham and Kroy Biermann, did an admirable job as well. Though Brees only took one sack, he was feeling the pressure all night from Atlanta's two ends.

And though Matt Ryan was very pedestrian, completing 18 of his 33 passes for just 165 yards and a touchdown, he did just enough to keep the Falcons ahead and allow the defense to shine. Matt Bryant, three for three on field goal attempts after a rough game against Tampa last week, also came through in the clutch.

The Falcons won, but still frustrated. This is because the Falcons had the chance to capitalize early and pull far ahead of the Saints. The running game appeared to be working (124 yards rushing still beat the season average by a margin of 36) and the defense was phenomenal.

But Atlanta fans will just have to be content with 11-1, imperfect but eleven wins all the same.

Of course, any win over the Saints - eggs or not - is made so much sweeter by nature of this wonderful rivalry.

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Falcons offense stagnant, Drew Brees just as bad

The Falcons defense picked Drew Brees off for a third time tonight, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense have scored only three points since halftime.

Ryan is just 11-for-25 passing, having accumulated just 127 yards through three quarters of play. Roddy White, who was held catchless for entire first half, now has one catch for 20 yards.

The running success that the Falcons found on their first drive of the football game has disappeared completely, with Atlanta managing a woeful three yards on three carries since the half.

Brees and the Saints offense, however, have not been much better. William Moore intercepted the Saints QB for a third time tonight, and thus far he has been kept out of the end zone.

Pierre Thomas, however, has begun carving up Atlanta's defense. He now has 83 yards on 12 carries, and is in large part why the Saints have put up six points since halftime.

Still, the Falcons have done what they'd needed to keep this game competitive. Ryan finally found a semblance of rhythm late in the third quarter and drove the offense to within Matt Bryant field goal range, whom gave Atlanta its current 20-13 lead.

But the way the Falcons exploded onto the scene tonight, with so much promise, its a mystery how they've been utterly shut down since that strong opening drive.

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Atlanta up by 10 off impressive defensive effort

After finding much success on the ground on the game's opening drive, the Falcons offense inexplicably abandoned the run and subsequently watched their point production stall.

Matt Ryan did find Tony Gonzalez on a 17-yard touchdown pass, but after eight rushes for 98 yards in the first quarter, Dirk Koetter called only three running plays to little success.

Atlanta's defense, meanwhile, allowed their first points of the day to the Saints when Mark Ingram scored from one yard out. Ingram, however, has been limited to 13 yards on six carries, and Pierre Thomas has only 21 yards on four rushes.

But while Drew Brees threw his second interception of the day, this one made by Sean Weatherspoon, his ability to move the ball against Atlanta has improved as this game progresses, especially via the deep ball (the Saints have four passes of 20 yards or more).

Lance Moore has two catches for 61 yards, and Marques Colston has four for 59 yards. Jimmy Graham has stayed quiet, however, catching only one pass for 13 yards.

As the second half begins, Atlanta will look to extend its ten-point advantage and finally earn a convincing win for once.

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Falcons up 14-0 off early running success

The Falcons came into tonight's game against the Saints with serious questions about their ability to run the football.

But so far, Atlanta has erased any doubts as to whether it could keep the ball on the ground against New Orleans' last-ranked rushing defense.

Averaging 88.3 rushing yards per game this season, the Falcons carried the ball five times for 71 yards on the first drive alone, and have 98 yards on eight carries in just one quarter of play.

Michael Turner got things started with a big 35-yard run to the right on the team's second offensive play of the game, and punched it across the goal line four plays later to give Atlanta an early 7-0 lead.

Early in the second quarter, Matt Ryan would make it a 14-0 advantage by hooking up with Tony Gonzalez on a 17-yard touchdown pass. Ryan was a perfect four-of-four passing for 50 yards on that scoring drive.

And though the offense has stalled at times, Atlanta's shutout of Drew Brees and the Saints offense has remained strong.

After Thomas DeCoud intercepted Brees in the end zone on New Orleans' first offensive possession, he has managed to complete just three passes for 55 yards.

Quality coverage despite missing Asante Samuel, who left early after re-injuring his shoulder, has been another huge factor in Atlanta's current 14-point advantage.

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