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Falcons, Saints Trade Punches In First Half


Even though Atlanta's defense had performed well in the takeaway category this season, they've had their troubles and without key linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on the field, Sunday's Falcons-Saints game was expected to be a high-scoring affair. New Orleans' defense entering Sunday statistically has been one of the worst in the league this year. 

Those believing in an offensive shootout saw things come to fruition in the first half, and things looked to be highly in the Falcons' favor when they started the game with a seven-play, 80-yard drive to start fast and take the quick lead.

On the Saints' first play of the game, a pass from Drew Brees, Asante Samuel got his 47th career interception and the Falcons looked like they might blow things out after a field goal gave them a 10-0 lead. 

Then the New Orleans' haymakers started coming and the back-and-forth slugfest continued up until halftime.

Hoping to exploit Atlanta's struggling run defense, the Saints turned to the running backs, running four times against two passes on the next possession. Chris Ivory raced 56 yards for New Orleans' first score of the game.

Matt Ryan started the game completing his first nine passes and ended the first half with 183 yards, completing 16 of 20 passes.

The Saints used two touchdown catches by Jimmy Graham to answer Atlanta's offensive output. The Falcons' own tight end, Tony Gonzalez, caught the go-ahead touchdown pass in the second quarter, bringing the score to 17-14. It was Gonzalez' 100th career touchdown reception.

The Falcons got a TD catch from a little-used source on their first score. From the 1-yard line, Ryan hit the backup offensive lineman , checked in as an eligible receiver, for a touchdown.

Graham's second touchdown for the Saints came with 34 seconds remaining to give Atlanta's NFC South rival the 21-17 lead to head into the break.

Roddy White leads all receivers with 100 yards on five catches.

The Saints have held the Falcons to 26 yards rushing in the first half, while running for 116.

Atlanta has failed to convert four of their seven third-down opportunities, including two third-and-1 attempts.

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