Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/11/13
When the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons clashed heads inside the Mercedez-Benz Superdome on Sunday, an incredible game was highly anticipated.  The heart pounding nail-biter came down to the last possession and the Black and Gold stopped the Dirty Birds from scoring to win the intense rivalry matchup.  These two teams hate each other with a passion and when one is able to go home with a W, the feeling compares to that of winning a championship, but I forgot that Atlanta does not know what that feels like.Anyway, it was a special victory for the New Orleans Saints, especially after coming off such an upsetting 2012 season.  Last year was disastrous for the defense, so you can bet it was all nerves leading up to the encounter with such a talented Atlanta offense.The rivalry between these two powerhouse teams is always a close game and a high-scoring one at that.  However, on Sunday it was quite the opposite (not the close game part, because that it was).  It was the was the lack of points scored and the defense that made this battle on the bayou such an unbelievable contest.As a Saints fan, I am not going to sit here and dwell on the Falcons' angle of the game, but I will say when pressured, Matt Ryan has been known to choke.  Pressured?  Did I say pessured?  I did say pressured, and the New Orleans Saints brought the pressure!  If you were to look up the word "pressure" in the dictionary, it might read "something the New Orleans Saints did not do to opposing quarterbacks in 2012."  Rob Ryan's aggressive play calling helped the defense get to Matt Ryan three times on Sunday.  In addition to those sacks, he was hit six times, called for an intentional grounding penalty and forced to throw the ball away on a 3rd and goal.New Orleans also won the turnover battle that day.  Defensive turnovers have been rare in the Big Easy as of late, and with such a high-powered offense, those can easily turn into scores.  If the Black and Gold can consistenly produce these takeaways as they once did during their Super Bowl run, it could make it much more challenging for opposing teams to keep up.One last thing I'd like to point out is the way the defense handled the rushing attack.  If the Saints had not allowed that one 50-yard run by Steven Jackson, he would have been reduced to just above 2 yards per carry.  However, giving up big plays is still unacceptable, but that can be fixed.  Anything is better than 147 rushing yards, which is what that historically bad New Orleans defense gave up on average last year.It seems like some of the holes have been filled on defense, but all the preseason injuries are still a major concern for Sean Payton's team.  The younger guys will need to step it up in 2013, and Sunday was a great start.If the Saints keep up the current pace, big things will happen this year.  The talent on offense with Drew Brees and Sean Payton leading the charge is undeniable.  If the pressure remanins consistent and turnovers keep being produced, I expect New Orleans to be at the top of the NFC South when the regular seaon comes to an end.  It is go time in NOLA.
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