Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/14/11
With a 26-23 victory over the Falcons, the New Orleans Saints took control of the NFC South Division on Sunday. Over the last two seasons, the winner of the first matchup has gone on to post a 13-3 record and win the division. In 2009, the Saints parlayed a victory in the rivalry to a division title on their way to the Super Bowl. Last season, the Falcons won the first game against the Saints and went on to win the division. The Saints (7-3), who have a bye next week, have a 112 game lead on the Falcons (5-4). "We would have loved to have moved to 6-3," Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "I think those guys have one loss in the division. Which was to Tampa earlier in the year, but they came back and fixed that last week. We are behind and we have some ground to make up. We can't lose any more divisional games. I think that's what it all boils down to." The Falcons are 1-2 in the division with losses to the Saints and Tampa Bay. The Falcons have home games against Tennessee and Minnesota before traveling to Houston on Dec. 4. During the final quarter of the season, they play at Carolina on Dec. 11, at home against Jacksonville on Thursday, Dec. 15, at New Orleans on Monday Night Football on Dec. 26 and at home against Tampa Bay. "We definitely want to be a team that's relevant in December," Robinson said. "We can't lose any more divisional games. We really don't want to lose any more games period." The Falcons will have to shake their penalty problem against Tennessee. The Falcons picked up 10 penalties for 85 yards. "It was very disturbing in terms of the personal foul penalties," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I believe that there were five in the first half. You can't have that." Veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez cited the penalties as a major issue that will be addressed. Several were not the effort variety. "We made some silly mistakes out there," Gonzalez said. "Silly, silly penalties that we do not need. Last season, the Falcons were the least penalized team in the league with 58. With seven games to play, the Falcons have 58 penalties for 493 yards this year. NOTES, QUOTES LINEUP WATCH: Falcons rookie wide receiver Julio Jones left the game late in the second quarter and did not return. He finished with two catches for nine yards. Jones was coming off his best game in the pros. He had three catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-7 win over the Colts. Jones suffered a right hamstring injury last week. He missed two games earlier with a left hamstring injury. With Jones slowed, wide receiver Harry Douglas caught eight passes for 133 yards. TRENDING: Running back Jason Snelling scored on a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on a scintillating run. "Jason just made a great play," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. "He broke a number of tackles and wouldn't be denied and got into the end zone." Snelling had two catches for 25 yards. However, rookie Jacquizz Rodgers, who rushed seven times for 30 yards, is getting the carries that used to go to Snelling. "That's something that we've come to expect from Snell though," Ryan said. "He does a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield." STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL P Matt Bosher had good hang-time on his punts all game. His first punt of 51 yards was up in the air for 4.66 seconds. He averaged 45.4 yards on five punts. TE Tony Gonzalez now has six touchdowns on the season and 94 in his career. He has caught a touchdown in back-to-back games three times this season, including scores in five of the last eight games. LB Curtis Lofton led the Falcons with nine tackles, including one tackle for loss. Lofton has 99 tackles this season, including six games with 10 or more stops. RB Michael Turner had 22 rushes for 96 yards. He needs four more yards to tie running back Gerald Riggs for the most 100-yard rushing games in franchise history with 24.
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