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Saints vs. Falcons: Mike Smith says secondary had 'best game' of season

The Falcons are 11-1 and riding high after defeating New Orleans.

Kevin C. Cox

Head coach Mike Smith is feeling good about his team moving forward. Currently, the Atlanta Falcons have the best record in football at 11-1 and are moving closer with every game to home-field throughout the NFC playoffs.

Of course, the team is coming off a 23-13 win over the arch-rival New Orleans Saints on Thursday night, in which Drew Brees incredibly threw five interceptions. Smith, predictably, was thrilled with his defense:

"I can’t recall us having that many passes defensed and that many interceptions against a Pro Bowler or a Hall of Fame quarterback. We were very fortunate to make those plays. We had tight coverage. We had a pretty good understanding. I thought our guys having played them three weeks apart, we had a pretty good idea. The recall was very good on the short week in terms of how they were trying to attack us. I thought we changed some things up.

"The staff did a great job in terms of what we wanted to do schematically and the guys went out and executed it. I thought our secondary, if you had to say which group had the best game, would’ve been our secondary group. Our defensive line put a lot of pressure on him even though we only had one sack. You’ve heard me say many times sacks are overrated. I think this is a prime example of sack numbers being overrated. It’s about making the quarterback uncomfortable. Three of those interceptions were directly from the pressure we had up front."

Much of Atlanta's success on Thursday and over the course of the season has to be attributed to the fans, as Smith pointed out in his Friday press conference. Not shockingly, the team is undefeated in the confines of the Georgia Dome:

"I want to start by talking about the fans last night. They were unbelievable. Delay of game penalty, two procedural penalties. It was an electric atmosphere. I still believe we have the best fans in all of football."

With New Orleans fully in the rear-view mirror, the Falcons can sit back and watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on Sunday. If they should lose to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Atlanta will have an NFC South title. However, don't count Smith among likely viewers. "I will not be watching that game. I’m going to spend some time with the family and get focused on Carolina," Smith said.

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