The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints go head to head on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Check out these pictures of gameday.
The game didn't start the way the Atlanta Falcons were hoping, allowing New Orleans Saints wide receiver Jalen Saunders to return the opening kickoff 99 yards, tackled by Javier Arenas. Saints running back Mark Ingram scored on the very next play with a one-yard run. NO 7 ATL 0
Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense responded in explosive fashion, including a 23-yard gain to Julio Jones, who returned Sunday from a hip injury that sidelined him in Week 15. Two plays later, Ryan connected with running back Devonta Freeman for a 36-yard reception to the Saints' 29-yard line. New Orleans allowed Atlanta just three more yards during the following three plays, leading to Matt Bryant's 44-yard field goal. NO 7 ATL 3
The game's next two offensive drives led to punts before Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant intercepted Drew Brees on a 4th-and-7 pass attempt. Unfortunately for Falcons fans, their team's offense was forced to punt three plays later.
Atlanta's defense responded by forcing a three-and-out drive of its own, highlighted by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux's 7-yard sack against Brees.
Penalties plagued the Falcons on their ensuing offensive drive (illegal use of hands, holding and offensive pass interference), leading to a 3rd-and-22. Ryan connected with Roddy White for an 11-yard reception, getting Bryant into range for a 50-yard field goal. NO 7 ATL 6
The Falcons really got defensive on the very next drive, including two quarterback sacks of Brees, one by Ra'Shede Hageman and one by Dwight Lowery, forcing New Orleans to punt.
Atlanta's offense used the momentum from its defense to take a lead before halftime. Ryan directed a 15-play, 89-yard drive in 5:33, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Eric Weems. ATL 13 NO 7
Atlanta received the kickoff to start the second half and was forced to punt after five plays. Mike Nolan's defense started the third quarter with the same momentum it ended with in the first half. Looking to get off the field after third down, Paul Worrilow pressured Brees, forcing a throw that missed, leading to a punt.
Atlanta's offense responded in scoring fashion. Ryan began the drive with two completions to Jones, covering 39 yards. Five plays later, Freeman scored from 31 yards out, his first rushing touchdown of his career. ATL 20 NO 7
Trailing by 13 points, the Saints didn't go away. Moving down the field, Brees nearly threw a touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham, who had the ball stripped away at the 1-yard line by Falcons safety Kemal Ishmael.
Following the turnover, Atlanta's offense was forced to punt nine plays later, leading to the Saints first score of the second half.
Brees led a scoring drive that lasted 12 plays, covering 87 yards in 3:40, ending with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Graham.ATL 20 NO 14
Atlanta's offense was again forced to punt, giving Brees an opportunity for a game-winning drive. Robert McClain had other plans. McClain picked off Brees, allowing for more eventual points for the Falcons offense. Ryan led a four-play drive that moved Bryant into range for a 32-yard field goal, pushing Atlanta's lead to nine points. ATL 23 NO 14
The game ended in sweet fashion as defensive end Kroy Biermann forced a fumble by Brees, recovered by defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who returned it 86 yards for the score as time expired.ATL 30 NO 14
The win moved the Falcons to 6-9. One week from today, Atlanta will close out the regular season with a matchup against the Carolina Panthers. The winner will be crowned as champion of the NFC South.