Falcons Vs. Saints: Birds Lose Shot At NFC South Title, 45-16

The Falcons needed a Monday night win over the Saints to keep their hopes of the No. 3 seed alive. They came nowhere close, and now have to hope for No. 5. Also, Drew Brees broke some record.

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Falcons Vs. Saints Final Score: Falcons Get Stomped On The Road 45-16

If the game didn't look that ugly in person, then the sight of that final box score sure made up for it. All night long, the Falcons defense simply did not have any sort of answer for the Saints for most of the night, and when the Falcons often were beating themselves with penalties.

At one point the Falcons, only down 31-16 with the ball in their hands at the start of the fourth, looked at least poised to narrow the point deficit. But on first down Julio Jones was stripped of the football, and corner Malcolm Jenkins took it back 31 yards for the score, effectively closing the door on Atlanta.

While Brees certainly got his yards and touchdowns (and two interceptions) throughout the course of the game, it was perhaps a surprisingly effective Saints running game that became the difference. On offense, some of the same inconsistencies at the beginning of the season (penalties, dropped passes, lapses in pass protection) also reared their ugly heads again.

And Michael Turner? He was nowhere to be found, managing only 39 yards on 11 carries all game. Matt Ryan was impressive, completing 34-of-52 for 373 yards and a touchdown, but too many other issues (read: defense) and drives stalling in the red zone (read: no running game) kept the point total down.

Any way you look at it, the Saints were the better team tonight, and have now wrapped up the NFC South crown and are guaranteed at least the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. The Falcons will now need a win and a Lions loss next week to grab the more favorable No. 5 seed in the postseason as they drop to 9-6 on the year.

Oh yeah, Drew Brees broke some sort of record tonight. Maybe you heard that mentioned once or twice.

For more, check out The Falcoholic for everything Falcons and Canal Street Chronicles for everything Saints.

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Falcons Vs. Saints Halftime Score: Atlanta Trailing 10-21, Defense Searching For An Answer

As this game has progressed, you could say the Atlanta defense has remained inconsistent all game long. You could also say that Drew Brees has been doing almost whatever he wants, and that would be equally as true.

This game would perhaps be out of hand for the Falcons were not for one miraculous, spectacular play. With a first down inside the Atlanta red zone, Brees fired at Jimmy Graham in the end zone, but the ball was juggled, tipped up in the air by an alert William Moore, and ultimately intercepted in the end zone by Dominique Franks for a touchback.

That put the ball back in Matt Ryan's hands, but the drive would ultimately produce no points. Though Ryan hit Harry Douglas on a beautiful third-down completion, it was called back because of a holding penalty against Jacquizz Rodgers.

Then the Saints would do exactly what Mike Smith and Falcons fans alike had feared: Brees marched his offense all the way down the field yet again and hit tight end Jimmy Graham on a nine-yard touchdown pass, extending their lead to 21-10.

That is the current state of affairs at halftime. Unless the Falcons defense can find some sort of halftime answer a la week 14 against the Panthers, the Saints have this game well in hand.

For more, check out SB Nation's Falcons blog The Falcoholic and Saints blog Canal Street Chronicles.

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Falcons Vs. Saints Update: Matt Ryan To Julio Jones Puts Falcons Up, But Saints Now Lead 14-10

With an NFC South title and pride on the line, the Falcons have traveled into Saints territory and gotten off to a good start in this big-time Monday Night matchup, one that we could see again in the playoffs.

On the first drive of the game, Matt Ryan and the offense were their usual efficient, methodical selves. The Falcons displayed a good mix of run and pass, but it was a quick-reaction shovel pass to Jason Snelling- good for a 16 yard gain- that would get the Falcons going in Saints territory.

A great play action pass to Roddy White for 20 more yards would put the Falcons into field goal range, where the drive would stall. Matt Bryant would hit his field goal and put Atlanta up 3-0.

On defense, the Falcons looked pretty shell-shocked on their first out on the field, and were surprisingly ineffective against the Saints ground game. Though Drew Brees hit Lance Moore on a big-time 38-yard passing play, it was Pierre Thomas who would punch it in for the touchdown, giving New Orleans a 7-3 edge. All in all, the Saints rushed for 50 yards on the opening drive.

But Ryan and the offense would bounce right back. The passing game would really pick it up, and Ryan would find rookie Julio Jones twice for 46 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard TD strike that now has Atlanta back in front 10-7. Brees and the Saints would respond right back with a touchdown of their own, finding Marques Colston in the end zone after driving down the field in hasty fashion.

If the Falcons can manage to win tonight, they'll still have a shot at the NFC South crown or at worst the No. 5 seed in the playoffs.

For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic. For the Saints, head over to Canal Street Chronicles.

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