Saints end Falcons unbeaten run with 31-27 win

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 12, 2012
Roddy White and the Atlanta Falcons came up just short in their bid to stay unbeaten. Not that White was about to give the rival Saints too much credit after New Orleans pulled out a dramatic 31-27 upset of previously unbeaten Atlanta on Sunday. ''It's not like they came out here and won a game,'' White said. ''I think we kind of gave it to them. ... We play them in three weeks and we'll be ready.'' White's comments weren't the only potential bulletin board material for the rematch on Nov. 29 in Atlanta. Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton, who left the Falcons after last season in free agency, dismissed the notion that New Orleans and Atlanta had a genuine ''rivalry'' because the Saints have won 11 of the past 13 meetings. ''The team out on the field today was the reason why I came to the Saints,'' said Lofton, who joined New Orleans only to see his former team get off to its best start in franchise history. ''We're finally starting to come together.'' While the Saints (4-5) were celebrating their fourth victory in five games after a 0-4 start, the Falcons (8-1) walked out of the Superdome ruing their failure to get the 1 yard they needed to take a lead inside the last 2 minutes. ''It's very frustrating,'' said Falcons coach Mike Smith, who is 2-7 against the Saints and 49-15 against the rest of the NFL in his four-plus regular seasons as Atlanta coach. ''We were close. ... This will be something we will learn from.'' The Falcons struggled to cover dynamic young tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught seven passes for a career-best 146 yards and two touchdowns. Then veteran New Orleans cornerback Jabari Greer, who had been beaten deep twice earlier in the game, came through with a diving, touchdown-saving pass breakup on a late fourth-down pass intended for White. ''I was kind of depressed before that play,'' Greer said. ''I saw my name on the waiver wire. ... Being able to go out there and make a play for our team and be able to celebrate after everything that happened and just to win that way, it's a gift.'' Matt Ryan was 34 of 52 for a career-best 411 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. The game was there for him to win when his 9-yard pass to Harry Douglas gave Atlanta a second-and-goal at the 1. But Ryan could not connect on a second-down pass for tight end Tony Gonzalez, the Saints stuffed Michael Turner for a 1-yard loss on third down, and then came Greer's play. ''I could have put that ball in a better spot - a little higher and more in front of him to give him a chance to catch it,'' Ryan said. ''We've always played them tough and haven't had the outcomes we wanted.'' Both Graham and the veteran Gonzalez were superb. Their performances marked the first time in NFL history that two tight ends had at least 120 yards receiving and two TD catches in the same game. ''Tony, he kind of paved the way for me,'' said Graham, who like Gonzalez had a college basketball background. ''It seemed like every drive I'm kind of going up against the things that he did the last drive.'' Gonzalez finished with 11 catches for 122 yards and two scores for Atlanta, becoming the first tight end to catch 100 touchdown passes. Drew Brees threw for 298 yards and three TDs as the Saints won for the fourth time in five games, keeping alive hope of getting back into the wild-card race after a 0-4 start. The Saints can even their record with a win at Oakland next weekend. ''That's something we feel like we're capable of and we envisioned being able to do that, because we know the type of team we have,'' Brees said. ''We knew we dug ourselves a hole. We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we also knew we have the right type of people.'' ''No one is going to go around crying or panicking or anything like that,'' Gonzalez said. ''We're a good team. Our confidence hasn't changed.'' Although the Saints came in allowing a league-worst 176.5 yards rushing per game, they held Atlanta to 46 yards on the ground. New Orleans rushed for 148 yards, highlighted by Chris Ivory's career-long 56-yard scoring run that gave the Saints a spark after Atlanta had a 10-0 lead. The Saints' largest lead was 28-17 on Brees' scoring strike to Marques Colston, the 55th TD of Colston's career, tying Deuce McAllister for first in Saints history. The touchdown capped an 81-yard drive which started with rookie Corey White's interception. The Falcons pulled to 28-27 on Gonzalez's second TD and Matt Bryant's field goal, but Graham' 46-yard grab set up Garrett Hartley's field goal that gave the Saints a late four-point lead and set the stage for a tense last few minutes. Notes: Ivory's 56-yard run was the longest from scrimmage by a Saint since Oct. 8, 2006, when McAllister ran 57 yards vs. Tampa Bay. ... Brees has passed for touchdowns in 52 straight games, extending an NFL record he set earlier this season. ... Julio Jones missed much of the first half after an undisclosed leg injury, but returned in the second half. ... Gonzalez has 101 career TDs, one of only eight players with 100 or more. --- Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving ate the Celtics’ heart during the second half of Game 4

NFL to reportedly bring back fun touchdown celebrations

Mike Trout explains why he doesn’t look at advanced stats

Reds’ Joey Votto shuts down heckler with “I remember when you used to be thin”

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Padres offering $99 ticket plan for five June wins or 16 June games – whatever happens first

Former Jets WR Devin Smith found out he was cut via Twitter

Roger Goodell tweets ‘Key & Peele’ joke about relaxed celebration rules

Martavis Bryant: ‘I know this is my last chance’

Glennon: ‘This is my year and I’m not worried about the future’

Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker