Deion Jones Makes Game-Changing Pick:With the Falcons up 13 points in the fourth quarter, rookie linebacker Deion Jones made the play of the game by intercepting Drew Brees and running 90 yards for a touchdown, making it a three-possession game. Fellow rookie Brian Poole tipped the pass, allowing Jones, a Louisiana native, to corral the ball and sprint toward the Superdome end zone.
Red Zone Success Aplenty: Red zone effectiveness has been a top priority since Dan Quinn became head coach, and in the last few weeks, Atlanta has shown remarkable improvements on that front. The Falcons converted on their first five red zone chances on Monday, extending their streak to eight in a row, dating back to last Sunday. Executing inside the 20 was particularly important when facing New Orleans' high-octane offense; by doing so, Atlanta set an early tone, put the Saints on their heels and, ultimately, racked up enough points to win a shootout.
RB Duo Thrives:Once again, the Falcons made sure both of their running backs stayed heavily involved. Tevin Coleman had his best day as a pro, scoring three touchdowns — two on the ground, one through the air — and finished with 89 yards from scrimmage. Devonta Freeman shined in his own right, notching 152 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards, respectively, and added a 13-yard TD catch in the second quarter.
Matty Ice Stays Sharp:Matt Ryan continued his tremendous work at quarterback, completing 20 of 30 passes for two touchdowns and zero turnovers, good for a 113.2 QB rating. A big reason why Ryan turned in such a stellar performance was his ability to spread the ball around: Altogether, eight receivers caught a pass. At least eight Falcons have tallied a reception in each of the first three games of 2016.
And as much as Atlanta wanted to get its No. 1 WR involved, it dominated even though Julio Jones registered just one catch for seven yards. This speaks to how many capable targets Ryan has at his disposal in 2016.
Falcons Stay Disciplined: Penalties hurt the Falcons against Tampa Bay and Oakland, and with a heated rivalry set to take place Monday night, it would have been easy for players on both sides to lose their cool. But that wasn't the case, at least for the away team: Officials called just four infractions on Atlanta for 35 yards — a stark contrast from the last two weeks, when it averaged 6.5 penalties for 60 yards.