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Saints vs. Falcons: Mike Smith 'can't say enough' about defensive performance

The Atlanta Falcons' defense showed Drew Brees no mercy, grabbing a career-high five interceptions from the quarterback.

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

While much of the attention for the Atlanta Falcons' 2012 success has gone to Matt Ryan, it was the defensive effort that stood out on Thursday night. Head coach Mike Smith had nothing but praise for the squad in his post-game comments. The game saw Atlanta grab five interceptions, a career-high for Drew Brees and as many as the quarterback had thrown in the previous six games combined.

After saying the defense played a "tremendous game," Smith continued:

"I can't say enough about it. They made plays when the ball was in the air. I felt like we had some opportunities believe it or not to make a couple of other plays. That's a very good quarterback that is normally a very efficient player and we are fortunate to take the ball away. I thought we did a nice job with our pressure in the ballgame and did a real good job of making them one dimensional. We did not give them the run game like we did the last time that we played them."

The head coach had specific praise for Chris Owens, who found himself on full-time duty after Asante Samuel reaggravated a shoulder injury. Highlighting a play where Owens broke up a key Brees pass in the fourth quarter, Smith said, "This is a team that when the next guy has to come up they step up."

The Falcons snapped Brees' consecutive games with a touchdown pass record, something Smith said he did not realize had happened until he was off the field. William Moore had two of the team's five interceptions, and Smith poiinted out that Moore made another key play, knocking a ball out of Darren Sproles' hands that would have given the Saints a first down inside the red zone.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.