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Game Notes: Falcons vs. Saints

Posted Nov 29, 2012

The Falcons put themselves in great position to earn another NFC South title with a 23-13 win over the Saints on Thursday night as Atlanta held Drew Brees without a touchdown for the first time in 54 game.

  • The Falcons improved to 11-1 with a 23-13 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons can clinch the NFC South Division crown if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose on Sunday. The Falcons can clinch a playoff berth with a loss by the Seattle Seahawks.
  • Atlanta’s defense intercepted Brees five times on Thursday, marking the first time in his career that he has been picked off five times. Atlanta recorded five interceptions in a single-game for the eighth time in franchise history and the first time since 11/9/1980 in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • This season, the Falcons have recorded multiple interceptions in five games. Under Head Coach Mike Smith, the Falcons have accomplished that feat 24 times, including five games against New Orleans.
  • The Falcons notched two interceptions in the first half. S Thomas DeCoud recorded his career-best fifth interception of the season when he picked off a Brees pass in the endzone, while LB Sean Weatherspoon notched his first career interception.
  • S William Moore intercepted two passes in clutch situations for the Falcons. His first pick came at the end of the third quarter with Atlanta leading 17-13 and New Orleans driving near midfield. Moore’s interception set up a seven-play, 30-yard drive that resulted in a field goal. Moore’s second interception sealed the win for the Falcons as he picked off Brees just inside the two minute warning.
  • The duo of DeCoud and Moore has combined for 10 takeaways (nine INTs & one FR) which have resulted in 30 points. They are responsible for nearly half of Atlanta’s 24 takeaways this season.
  • RB Michael Turner punched in a three-yard touchdown run on Atlanta’s opening drive, breaking WR Terance Mathis’ franchise record for total touchdowns with his 58th career score. In five seasons in Atlanta, Turner has scored a franchise record 57 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.
  • Turner has posted one rushing touchdown in three straight home games. This season, the Burner has run for seven touchdowns and over the last five seasons only Minnesota’s RB Adrian Peterson (59) has scored more rushing touchdowns than Turner.
  • Atlanta is 40-10 when scoring first. This season, the Falcons lead the NFL with 44 points their first offensive possession. Since 2008, the Falcons have scored an NFL-best 217 points on opening drives.
  • TE Tony Gonzalez caught his 70th pass of the season on the Falcons opening drive. He has posted 70-or-more receptions in 10 consecutive seasons dating back to 2003. He has eclipsed 70 catches 13 times in his career and currently holds the longest active streak with a reception in 191 straight games.
  • QB Matt Ryan hit Gonzalez for a 17-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Ryan has thrown 22 touchdown passes this season and in his career, the Falcons are 48-14 when he throws for at least one score.
  • Gonzalez has a team leading seven touchdown receptions in 2012, which ties his career best as a Falcon. The future Hall of Famer has caught seven touchdowns in each of the last two seasons and has notched seven-or-more scores in eight seasons during his career. Gonzalez’s 102 career receiving touchdowns are the sixth most in NFL history.
  • Ryan finished the game completing 18 of 33 pass attempts for 165 yards with one touchdown. He saw his franchise record string of four straight 300-yard games come to an end, but set a franchise record for passing yards in the month of November. Ryan finished the month with 1,572 passing yards, topping QB Steve Bartkowski’s club record of 1,494 yards.
  • Ryan improved to 32-4 (.889) at the Georgia Dome in his career. Since 2008, only Patriots QB Tom Brady has a better winning percentage at home (28-2, .933).
  • According to ESPN Stats and Information, Ryan has the best winning home percentage of any quarterback who began his career in the Super Bowl era (min. of 25 starts).
  • K Matt Bryant broke into the top five on Falcons all-time scoring list with his 11-point performance on Thursday night. Bryant made all three of his field goal attempts, connecting from 45, 29 and 55 yards while adding two extra points. Since joining the Falcons in 2009, Bryant has totaled 404 points passing K Norm Johnson (395) for fifth in club annals.
  • Bryant tied his season-long field goal with a 55-yard kick in the fourth quarter that stretched Atlanta’s lead to 10 points. Bryant has hit 10 field goals of 50 yards in his NFL career and his teams are 9-1 when he connects from that distance, including four wins this season.
  • DE John Abraham sacked Brees on a crucial third-down play that got the Falcons defense off of the field late in the game. This season, Abraham has recorded a team-high 10 sacks, marking his seventh season with 10-or-more sacks.
  • Abraham is the NFL’s active sack leader with 122 career sacks. He moved past DE Clyde Simmons (121.5) and into a tie with DE Simeon Rice for 14th on the League’s all-time sacks list. Additionally, his 68.5 sacks since joining the Falcons in 2006 are the second most in club history.