Atlanta avenged their only loss of the season by jumping out to a 17-0 start, with Michael Turner running wild, and forced Drew Brees and the Saints to play catch up the remainder of the game. New Orleans almost did, coming as close as 17-13 midway through the third quarter.
However, the real story of the game was the uncharacteristic play of Brees, who threw a career-high five interceptions. Brees also saw his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown snapped at 54. The Saints QB spread the ball out to his receivers but also did so with the Falcons defense as well. Thomas Decoud, Sean Weatherspoon, Jonathan Babineaux and William Moore all collected interceptions from Brees. Moore probably had the most fun as he collected two interceptions to go along with 11 tackles on the night.
The Falcons offense did not look great as Roddy White and Julio Jones were not huge factors throughout the game. Matt Ryan did not have a typical game either but the fact the Falcons were able to run the ball with Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers help pace Atlanta throughout.
Clinging to a seven point lead midway through the fourth quarter, head coach Mike Smith sent kicker Matt Bryant out to kick a 55 yard field goal, which he converted to push the score to 23-13. That score proved to be just enough to break the Saints four game winning streak against Atlanta.
Nevertheless, this was still interesting nearing the two minute mark in the fourth quarter. Trying to kill some clock, Ryan handed off to Turner who was stood up by the Saints defense. In the process, the Saints stripped the ball, the referees never blew the whistle and Bush took the ball in for the score. The refs would review the call and rule Bush down at the 29 yard line, giving New Orleans a chance to do some damage.
On second down of the drive, Brees’ pass was tipped by Atlanta’s Corey Peters but it was taken away due to John Abraham being offside. In the end, it would not matter because on the following play Brees was picked off by Moore who virtually came out of nowhere. That play would kill any thoughts the Saints had of making a comeback against the Falcons after being egged by Atlanta airport workers earlier that day.
With the win, Atlanta moved to 11-1 and can clinch the division with a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss this weekend. Meanwhile, the Saints drop to 5-7 on the season as they watched their slim chances at the playoffs get even slimmer.