1 -** Sacks of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. The offensive line, which saw starting left tackle Jake Matthews leave the game just before halftime and not return, played extremely well in the rookie's absence. Gabe Carimi came in at left tackle, while Lamar Holmes held down the right tackle spot, helping bolster an a line that gave Ryan plenty of time to pick apart the Saints defense.
2 - Turnovers forced by the Falcons defense. And both were huge. Robert McClain's third quarter interception of Drew Brees set up the Falcons' first lead of the game. With the Saints threatening to extend their lead back to 10 points late in the third quarter, Robert McClain stepped in front of a 14-yard Brees pass intended for rookie Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks in the end zone, kneeling for a touchback. The Falcons graciously accepted McClain's gift and answered with an 80-yard scoring drive capped by Antone Smith's 54-yard touchdown run, giving Atlanta a 24-20 lead, their first of the game. William Moore made one of the game's biggest plays on New Orleans' opening drive in overtime. After Brees hit Marcus Colston for a first down out past the Atlanta 30-yard line, William Moore stripped Colston of the ball and linebacker Joplo Bartu fell on the pigskin at the Saints 38-yard line. Four plays later Matt Bryant delivered an Atlanta victory.
2- Falcons starters who left the game with injuries. Wide receiver Roddy White injured his left knee while as he hauled in a 39-yard reception that set up a last-second field goal at the end of the second half. He returned to the game after the halftime break and immediately caught a pass on the opening series of the third quarter. Left tackle Jake Matthews went down on the same play with an ankle injury and did not return to the game.
3 - Career fumbles for Julio Jones in three seasons heading into today's game. But his fourth, which occurred at the one-minute mark with the Falcons trailing 6-0, was particularly costly. Jones had just taken a short pass from Matt Ryan near the 20 and looked to have broken free for a touchdown. But Saints safety Jarius Byrd stripped Jones at the 5-yard line, knocking the ball into the end zone where it was recovered by the Saints for a touchback. On the ensuing possession, the Saints drove methodically 80 yards down the field for a touchdown to extend New Orleans' lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter. If not for the resiliency of the entire Atlanta Falcons squad in the last three quarters, that play could have loomed much larger in this game.
3 - Number of times in franchise history the Falcons have registered at least 500 yards of offense against New Orleans. Today's 568 net yards set an all-time Atlanta Falcons club record.
10 - Penalties for the Falcons, compared to just 3 for the Saints. In a game with so many positives for Atlanta, Coach Smith will certainly make light of the the infractions, which came at crucial times, negating big plays, third-down conversions and defensive stops.
13 - Yards Devonta Freeman gained on a crucial third down catch and run that set up the Falcons' first touchdown of the game. Freeman caught the pass in the right flat and with two defenders converging on him near the sideline at the 6-yard line, the Falcons looked like they would have to settle for a field goal. But Freeman ducked one defender and bulled over another to pick up a first down at the two-yard line. On the next play, Matt Ryan hit Roddy White for a 2-yd touchdown pass to cut the Saints' lead to 13-7.
14 - Unanswered points for the Falcons in the third quarter.
17 - First downs for New Orleans in the first half of Sunday's game as the visiting Saints took a 20-10 lead to halftime. Atlanta had 12 first downs in the first half, and would have had more if not for several crucial penalties. The two teams finished with 58 first downs in the game, 30 for New Orleans and 28 for Atlanta.
20 - Seconds it took Matt Ryan and the offense to drive 58 yards and set up a second-half ending 40-yard field goal that cut the Saints lead to 10 points at halftime. The drive was crucial to shift the game's momentum, which had just swung squarely in New Orleans favor after a Saints touchdown gave them a 13-point lead. Starting at his own 20-yard line, Ryan promptly hit Devin Hester for a 19-yard gain. After a time out, he found Roddy White deep over the middle for a 39-yard gain to the New Orleans' 22-yard line. A time out with 4 seconds remaining allowed Matt Bryant to hit the first of three clutch field goals on the day bring the Falcons to within 10 points at intermission. The drive was especially noteworthy given Atlanta took the second half kickoff and drove 80 yards for a touchdown to narrow the lead to 20-17.
51 - Yards of Matt "The Other Matty Ice" Bryant's game-tying field goal at the end of regulation that sent the game to overtime.
52 - Yards of Matt "The Other Matty Ice" Bryant's game-winning field goal in overtime.
56 - Careeer receiving touchdowns for Roddy White, tied for second most in Falcons franchise history. White reached the mark pulling in a 2-yard Matt Ryan pass in the second quarter. White remains just one touchdown catch behind franchise record-holder Terence Mathis (57).
The Falcons take on their division rival, the New Orleans Saints, in their first regular season game on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Check out these pictures of the game.
70 -** Passing yards for Drew Brees four minutes into the game. On the game's opening 9-play field goal scoring drive, Brees was 5-6 for 70 yards, with three of those passes going for 14 yards or more. The start to this one didn't come close to predicting the wild four quarters of football that took place at the Georgia Dome this afternoon.
71 - Combined yards on a pair of highlight-reel touchdowns by Antone Smith (54-yard reception) and Jacquizz Rodgers (17-yard run), both of which saw Atlanta backs shed Saints tacklers and shake off defenders as they literally willed themselves to the end zone.
80 - Seconds left in the game when Matt Ryan and offense got the ball at the Atlanta 20-yard line, trailing 34-31. On 2nd and 10 from the Atlanta 45, Devin Hester made yet another huge first down catch, a 21-yard reception down to the Saints 34-yard line that ultimately set up the first of two 50 yard clutch Matt Bryant field goals.
94 - Percent of games the Falcons win when Matt Ryan has a quarterback rating of at least 100. Atlanta is 35-2 in those games.
99 - Yards receiving for Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester, on five catches. Ryan found Hester for several crucial third-down conversions in the game, including a 16-yard first down catch near midfield on a third-and-six play early in the Falcons' go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown drive. Hester has officially joined Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas as a dangerous receiving threat. Each of the Falcons four top receivers had at least five catches on the day.
128.8 - Quarterback rating for Matt Ryan against the Saints.
156 - Career touchdown passes for QB Matt Ryan, who eclipsed QB Steve Bartkowski (154) for most in franchise history. Ryan tied Bartkowski's mark with a 2-yard second-quarter touchdown strike to Roddy White, then broke it when he connected on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Levine Toilolo on the opening drive of the second half. Ryan added a third touchdown pass later in the game, a 54-yard connection to running back Antone Smith.
163 - Seconds remaining in the game when Drew Brees brought the Saints to the line at their own 29-yard line trailing the Falcons by 4 points, 31-27. The Saints drove 71 yards in eight plays to score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:20 left in regulattion, setting up the game's dramatic and memorable finish.
448 - Passing yards for Matt Ryan, a personal and Falcons franchise record for passing yards in a game.
1,040 - Total yards in Sunday afternoon's epic battle between two bitter division rivals. Atlanta set a franchise mark with 568 total yards, while New Orleans finished with 472.