Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/29/12
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons raced to a 17-0 lead and the defense made it stand up, picking off five of Drew Brees' passes and ending his NFL-record touchdown streak with a 23-13 victory Thursday night. The Falcons moved to the brink of clinching the NFC South and dealt a big blow to the Saints (5-7) and their fading playoff hopes. William Moore had two of the five interceptions, which were the most of Brees' career and came four days after he had two passes picked off and returned for touchdowns in a loss to San Francisco. Brees had thrown a touchdown pass in 54 consecutive games. He had an apparent scoring pass to Darren Sproles late in the first half, but it was nullified by a penalty. Michael Turner scored on Atlanta's opening possession, Tony Gonzalez hauled in a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan, and Matt Bryant booted three field goals, including a 55-yarder. The Falcons defense did the rest. Thomas DeCoud, Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux also had interceptions for Atlanta, which will clinch the NFC South with a month to go in the regular season if Tampa Bay loses to Denver on Sunday. Brees had a couple of games with four picks, but nothing like this. He finished 28 of 50 for 341 yards. The defending NFC South champion Saints lost their second in a row and will likely have to win out to have even a faint hope of making the postseason during a tumultuous year that was marred by a bounty scandal and a season-long suspension for coach Sean Payton. After winning so many close games, the Falcons started this one as if they were intent on a rout. Ryan completed a pass on the first play from scrimmage, then turned it over to a running game that has struggled most of the season. Turner burst around right end for a 35-yard gain. Jacquizz Rodgers broke off two straight 14-yard gains. Finally, it was Turner going in standing from 3 yards out, giving Atlanta a quick 7-0 lead. That was Turner's 58th touchdown in five seasons with the Falcons, breaking the team record he had shared with Terance Mathis. Atlanta struck again in the opening minute of the second period. Julio Jones hauled in an 18-yard throw from Ryan, setting up a 17-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez in the back of the end zone. He beat former teammate Curtis Lofton, then just flipped the ball over the goalposts instead of his customary basketball dunk. Brees' second interception, this one a sloppy pass behind running Chris Ivory that deflected into the arms of Sean Weatherspoon, set up Bryant's 45-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead. Then, suddenly, the game completely changed. For the rest of the second quarter and most of the third, the Saints totally dominated. Mark Ingram scored on a 1-yard run, capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive, and New Orleans should have tacked on more points at the end of the half. But Brees made a rookie-like mistake with 12 seconds remaining, dumping a pass over the middle to Sproles with no timeouts. He was wrapped up at the Atlanta 3 and the clock ran out before the Saints could spike the ball. But New Orleans got the ball to start the second half, and Brees went back to work. This time, he made a couple of nifty moves to avoid sacks, completing six passes on an 83-yard drive consuming 15 plays and more than 6 1-2 minutes. But the Falcons defense held again, forcing Garrett Hartley to boot a 21-yard field goal that cut it to 17-10. Hartley connected again from much farther out on the Saints' next possession, a 52-yarder that brought New Orleans even closer. The Falcons, meanwhile, couldn't do anything offensively. They failed to pick up a first down on five straight possessions, a stretch in which the Saints had a 289-30 lead in total yards and a staggering 18 first downs. Finally, it was the Atlanta defense that turned things around late in the third. Brees rolled to his right and threw over the middle, but Moore picked off the pass and returned it to the New Orleans 16. Ryan connected on first-down throws to Gonzalez and Roddy White to set up Bryant's field goal.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Alabama kicker commit drills 77-yard field goal

WATCH: Texas guard destroys opponent with huge dunk

Reports: Red Sox were in on Greinke if Price fell through

Chris Webber advises Lakers to swipe Kobe's memorabilia

Five-star CB excited about Kirby Smart hire by Georgia

San Diego Padres unveil awesome new uniforms


Report: Mark Richt being recruited to run for Georgia governor

Cowboys won’t put Tony Romo on IR because of playoff hopes

What the Selection Committee taught us: Week 13

Majority of FIFA sponsors demanding independent review on reforms

Zack Greinke expected to choose between Dodgers, Giants by end of week

Reports: David Price, Red Sox agree to seven-year, $217 million contract

Mike Tomlin settles for field goal, then says you can’t settle for one

Kobe: 76ers thought I would score 81 points after hot start

Claude Julien: No animosity between Bruins, Chirelli

Report: Louisville QB Will Gardner will transfer

Report: Yasiel Puig and Don Mattingly didn’t talk at all toward end

WATCH: Roy Hibbert pushes referee during scrum

Orioles set to acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners

Seven storylines for Week 14 of the college football season

Colin Kaepernick jerseys on sale at 49ers’ team store

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz named Big Ten Coach Of The Year

Mid-American Conference Championship preview

Lakers trying to decide which Kobe Bryant jersey number to retire

Matthew Dellavedova is becoming a better passer

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Seven storylines for Week 14 of the college football season

MAC Championship preview

Tiger Woods’ career inches closer to an end after gloomy injury update

QUIZ: Name every NCAA football national champion since 1950

Browns lose to Ravens as only the Browns know how

NCAA figures out how to invite 5-7 teams to bowls

Ranking top Heisman Trophy candidates

Have the New Orleans Saints given up?

This weekend in NFL stupid, ft. Rex Ryan

Missouri won’t accept a bowl bid at 5-7

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker