The Falcons played with a lead for the entire game against the Saints, but as the second half progressed, it didn't always feel that way.
At one point the Falcons went five straight possessions without a first down, continuing to go three-and-out on offense and handing the ball back to Drew Brees and the Saints as they continued to chip away at Atlanta's lead.
The Falcons defense collectively was the MVP of the second half, playing hard and tough despite how much time they spent on the field. In the third quarter alone, the Saints held a five minute time of possession advantage, but the defense continued to hold strong, forcing field goals instead of touchdowns.
Even in the face of all the struggles, the defense, clinging to a 20-13 lead, gave the Falcons offense one more chance to make the final few minutes of the fourth quarter a two-possession game. John Abraham came around the end on a third-and-5 to sack Brees and force a fourth down.
The Falcons took the one piece of positivity in the face of so much adversity in the second half and drove the field. On a night when they struggled, the offense continued to, but got just close enough for Matt Bryant to hit a 55-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 23-13 lead.
Brees was a few notches better than Falcons QB Matt Ryan on the night, but Atlanta's defense was sparkling against him. They limited Brees to a 37.6 QB rating and picked him off five times. William Moore and Jonathan Babineaux added interceptions in the second half. Babineaux' takeaway came at a critical point, stopping a drive to give the Falcons the ball and a chance to run out the clock.
A forced fumble by New Orleans gave them a second breath, but Moore's second interception of the game took their final life in a second half that was as back-and-forth as they come.
Perhaps an even bigger story than Atlanta picking off Brees five times is their role in ending a historic streak. Coming into the game, Brees held an NFL record 54 straight games with a touchdown pass. Atlanta's defense kept the New Orleans QB out of the endzone in Thursday's win, ending the streak.