Falcons dominate Saints early, clinch bye

The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints close out the regular season in a rivalry match up in the Georgia Dome. Here are photos from the game.

In a battle that pitted the No. 1 scoring offense against the No. 2 scoring offense, the Falcons showed not only that their offense is playing at a historic level, and by every indication, their defense is getting better each and every week.

From the start, the Falcons dominated the Saints at the Georgia Dome on Sunday and held on to win 38-32. Atlanta scored touchdowns on their first five possessions of the game to build a 35-13 halftime lead.

Matt Ryan was the story of the first half. He went 17-for-19 for 235 yards and four touchdowns and a near-perfect 157.8 passer rating in the first 30 minutes.

The “MVP!” chants started early and came raining down periodically throughout the game.  Ryan finished with 331 yards, and touchdown passes to four different receivers.

But in a game that featured the league’s two highest scoring offenses, once again it may have been the Falcons defense that was the difference. Atlanta’s defense was able to consistently get Drew Brees and company off the field while the outcome was still in question. Through three quarters, the Saints went 2-for-9 on third down, and scored just 13 points. And with the Saints trying to mount a fourth quarter comeback, CB Jalen Collins picked off Brees in the end zone with less than seven minutes to play, virtually sealing the game for the Falcons.

The final score of 38-32 made it looker closer than it really was. Nineteen of the Saints points came in the fourth quarter after the Falcons had amassed a 38-13 lead in the first three quarters. The last time these teams met, Atlanta gave up 32 points in New Orleans.

Atlanta’s win over the Saints solidifies their position as the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC, earning them a first-round bye.

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