Game Notebook: Falcons at Saints

  • The Falcons posted 403 yards of total offense, logging their second straight game with more than 400 total yards in a 30-14 win over the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. With the win, Atlanta will host the Carolina Panthers in a de facto NFC South championship game with the winner advancing to the NFC playoffs as the division champion.
  • Atlanta swept the Saints for the first time since the 2005 season, when the Falcons won 34-31 at New Orleans and 36-17 in Atlanta. Head coach Mike Smith improved his record against division opponents to 22-18 with the win.
  • QB Matt Ryan out dueled Saints QB Drew Brees, completing 30 of 40 pass attempts (75 percent) with one touchdown and a 106.5 passer rating. Ryan completed more than 70-percent of his passes for the second straight game and the 31st time in his career. He has led the Falcons to a 23-8 record when he accomplishes that feat.
  • Ryan has recorded a passer rating above 100 for the fourth straight game and the seventh time this season. He has led the Falcons to a 37-5 mark when he posts a passer rating of 100-or-higher.
  • Ryan averaged 8.05 yards per pass attempt on Sunday night, which is the fourth straight game in which he has averaged better than eight yards per pass. He has led the Falcons to a 29-6 record when he hits that mark.
  • WR Julio Jones notched his third straight 100-yard game catching seven passes for 107 yards. Jones has posted 100-plus receiving yards seven times this season. He has posted three 100-yard games against New Orleans in his career.
  • Jones seven receptions gave him and even 100 catches for the season. He is the fourth Falcon to record 100 catches in a season, joining WR Roddy White (twice), Terance Mathis, and Eric Metcalf.
  • Despite missing Atlanta's Week 15 game against Pittsburgh, Jones has compiled an NFC leading 1,535 yards and 100 receptions this season.
  • RB Devonta Freeman scored his second career touchdown and his first rushing touchdown on a 31-yard scamper in the third quarter. The score was Freeman's first touchdown on American soil as he caught a seven-yard touchdown against Detroit in London in Week 8.
  • WR Eric Weems caught his second TD pass of the season on a three-yard shovel pass from Ryan at the end of the first half. The score capped a 15-play, 89 yard drive and sent the Falcons into the locker room with a 13-7 lead at half time.
  • Weems has caught two touchdowns this season, both coming within the last three weeks. Weems has four career touchdown passes and tied his single season career best with his second TD of the season. He also caught two touchdowns as a member of the Falcons in 2009.
  • The Falcons defense forced four turnovers in the win, including interceptions from CB Desmond Trufant and CB Robert McClain as well as a forced fumble from S Kemal Ishmael.
  • Trufant picked off Brees on a key fourth down play in the first quarter while McClain intercepted Brees at the Saints 18-yard line with just 2:35 remaining. McClain returned his INT to the New Orleans 13-yard line and set up an insurance score in the form of a 32-yard K Matt Bryant field goal.
  • With the Saints threatening to score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Ishmael and S Dezmen Southward stuffed TE Jimmy Graham at the goal line, with Ishmael ripping the ball loose and returning the fumble to 18 yards to the Falcons 20-yard line. Ishmael leads the team with five forced turnovers, including four INTs and one forced fumble.
  • Atlanta's defense notched a season-high five sacks against New Orleans, including three sacks in the first half. DE/DT Jonathan Babineaux, rookie DT Ra'Shede Hageman, and S Dwight Lowery each dropped him for a loss in the first half while DE Osi Umenyiora and DT Corey Peters sacked Brees in the second half.
  • Babineaux notched his second sack of the season and now has 25.5 career sacks. He lined up at defensive tackle on his sack against Brees, since 2005, his 25.5 sacks are tied for the 14th most by a defensive tackle.
  • Hageman logged his first career sack, bulldozing his way into the backfield and dropping Brees for a five-yard loss. The second round pick out of Minnesota had 10 sacks and 24 tackles for loss in 46 games for the Golden Gophers.
  • Lowery sacked and forced a fumble on a third down play forcing a punt. The quarterback take down was Lowery's first of the season and his first since October 24, 2011 against the Baltimore Ravens as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Peters notched his second sack of the season and the 12th of his career, dropping Brees for a seven-yard loss. The fifth-year player from Kentucky has posted 30 total tackles (18 solo) with two sacks this season.
  • Biermann sealed the Falcons victory with a sack and forced fumble at the Atlanta 11-yard line. DE Osi Umenyiora scooped up the loose ball and returned it 86 yards for a touchdown.
  • Umenyiora's 86-yard fumble return touchdown was the 18th time the Falcons have posted a defensive score under head coach Mike Smith. Atlanta owns a 14-4 record in those games.
  • Atlanta's defense held the Saints to 57 rushing yards on 18 carries (3.2 yards per carry) marking the second straight game the Falcons have limited their opponents to less than 60 rushing yards. Atlanta held the Pittsburgh Steelers to 45 yards on 22 carries (2.0 yards per carry) in Week 15.
  • The Falcons defense held the Saints to 78 total yards in the first half, while Brees completed just seven of 13 passes for 74 yards with one interception and a 38.6 passer rating.
  • K Matt Bryant connected on all three of his field goal attempts, including kicks from 32, 44, and 50 yards in the win. He has hit 38 straight field goals from inside 50 yards dating back to 2013. This season, Bryant leads the NFL with seven field goals of 50-or-more yards.
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