The Falcons' surprising 26-9 victory against the Saints was earned in every sense of the word. Atlanta beat New Orleans in all three phases of the game, earned a season-high six sacks and established the run in a way they haven't all year.
For the duration of Sunday's game, one would be forgiven for not realizing which team had entered the contest with a 7-1 record. Even Saints coach Sean Payton could only tip his hat in recognition of the performance the Falcons put together.
"It's kind of one of those ... it's not a lesson, but this league is too good week-to-week where you can go in and not be focused and ready," Payton said, according to NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman. "This has always been a game that's always played with emotion and I thought they outplayed us. They outplayed us, they outcoached us and they deserve to win."
This is a win Falcons fans should savor for a while, because it was as complete a performance as any.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
ESPN: Falcons look like different team in upset
All season the Falcons have searched for a game like the one they played in New Orleans. The coaches and players have steadfastly stated that they believe the preparation has been to the level needed to win on Sundays, and it certainly looked that way against the Saints. Atlanta reminded people of the type of talent it possesses on its roster, and perhaps this performance can provide a spark.
"The Falcons didn't look like the same team that started the season 1-7 and had dropped six games in a row," ESPN's Vaughn McClure writes of the game. "This was a team determined to silence the critics and show it had enough talent on the roster to take down the mighty Saints, even on the road."
To read the rest of McClure's piece from Sunday, click here.
AJC: Falcons give us Sunday to savor
There weren't many who saw that performance coming from the Falcons, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Whether that proves to be a sign of things to come over the final seven weeks or an aberration to look back on fondly, it's a victory that certainly is sweet. In his column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mark Bradley tried to make sense of the Falcons' performance before ultimately arriving at the conclusion that this is a moment to just enjoy.
"If nothing else — and it's entirely possible there won't be much else good from these Falcons — they offered a glimpse as to why we'd believed this team would be capable of making the playoffs. Of being 2-7, Ryan said, 'Our backs are against the wall,' and that's sugarcoating it. But in a building that has been a house of horrors for this annual visitor, against an opponent that loves to gig the Dirty Birds, they acted as if they owned the place. You wonder why it took nine games to play like this, but you're glad for their sake they finally did."
To read the rest of Bradley's column, click here.