Atlanta's Matt Bryant hit a 46-yard game winning field goal in overtime to improve the Falcons record to 2-1
After Saints' K Garrett Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal attempt in overtime, Atlanta marched 52 yards in 12 plays to set up K Matt Bryant's 46-yard game winning field goal. The kick was the first game winner of 2010 for Bryant and gave the Falcons their first road win of the season.
Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith decided to roll the dice on fourth down three times in Sunday's game. Atlanta converted two of those three attempts, with both coming on the Falcons longest drive of the year. The Falcons also went nine for 18 on third downs for a 50 percent conversion rate. Their ability to extend drives on third and fourth down led the Falcons to a 45:50-27:15 advantage in time of possession.
Quarterback Matt Ryan improved his record in indoor stadiums to 16-4, as he completed 19 of 30 pass attempts for 228 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan finished the game with a 108.8 passer rating, marking the second straight game that Ryan has recorded a passer rating above 100 points. It was the 11th time in his career that he has accomplished that feat and the Falcons own a perfect 11-0 record in those games. His 108.8 QB rating is the second highest of his career against the Saints.
With the Saints looking for a big play early in the game, CB Brent Grimes picked off QB Drew Brees on a flea flicker and took the ball 36 yards to the Saints 49-yard line. It marked the second consecutive game against the Saints that Grimes has recorded an interception. It was the eighth career pick for Grimes and since 2008, Grimes INT total ranks second among undrafted players.
S Thomas DeCoud recorded the fourth interception of his career and the sixth of the season for Atlanta when he picked off an underhanded pass as Brees tried to escape a sack. The Falcons recorded two interceptions on Brees' first eight attempts of the game. Previously, Brees went 241 pass attempts without a pick. DeCoud's interception led to the Falcons game tying touchdown at the end of the first half.
Atlanta put together its longest drive of the season at the end of the first half, driving 72 yards on 19 plays and chewing 10:39 off the clock before RB Michael Turner punched in a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14. The drive including two fourth down conversions inside the New Orleans 30-yard line. The Falcons dominated the time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for 22 minutes and limiting the Saints explosive offense to eight minutes in the first half.
TE Tony Gonzalez recorded his fifth straight game against New Orleans with at least five catches, finishing the game as Atlanta's leading receiver. Gonzalez hauled in eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Gonzalez improved his NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end when he grabbed a 13-yard pass in the end zone on the Falcons second drive. The touchdown catch was the 83rd of his career and his first of 2010.
Turner recorded his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run at the end of the first half, sending the Falcons into the locker room even with the Saints. The score was Turner's 28th in a Falcons uniform. Since 2008, Turner ranks tied for first in the NFL in rushing touchdowns and is tied for fourth in overall touchdowns by a running back. The touchdown also marked his fifth straight game against New Orleans with a score.
The Burner posted his longest rush of the season with a 32-yarder, putting the Falcons deep in Saints' territory. Atlanta would capitalize on the big run by adding a 23-yard field goal and taking a 17-14 lead. Turner finished with a game-high 114 yards on 30 carries. The Falcons are 13-5 when Turner finds the endzone at least once.
With 16 seconds remaining in the first half, New Orleans held the ball at midfield with no timeouts remaining. Brees hit WR Robert Meachem for a five-yard gain to bring the ball into Atlanta territory, but LB Sean Weatherspoon wrapped up Meachem's legs, keeping him in bounds and allowing the clock to run down to zero and end the half. Weatherspoon finished the game with seven total tackles (seven solo)and a quarterback hit.
On the opening drive of the second half, the Saints drove the ball down to the Falcons 32-yard line before Atlanta's defense stalled the drive on third down. Falcons LB Mike Peterson forced a fumble on fourth and one and DE Chauncey Davis recovered the loose ball to give Atlanta possession.
With an 11-yard, third-down reception at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Gonzalez recorded the 27th 100-yard receiving game of his career. Gonzalez improved his own NFL record of 100-yard games by a tight end. It also marked the second game of the season that the Falcons had a 100-yard receiver.
Atlanta took a 24-21 lead, capping a nine-play 80 yard drive with just over nine minutes remaining in the game when Ryan hit WR Roddy White for a 22-yard score on third down. The touchdown pass marked the fifth of the season for Ryan and his second of the game. It was the second straight game that Ryan has thrown two or more touchdown passes.
White finished the game with five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Sunday's game marked the seventh time that White has put up at least 65 receiving yards against the Saints and the sixth time that he has scored a touchdown against Atlanta's NFC South rival.
DT Jonathan Babineaux recorded his second sack of the season, bringing down Brees for a two-yard loss on a third-down play in the fourth quarter. Since 2008, Babineaux has recorded 11.5 sacks which ranks among to the top defensive tackles in the NFL during that time. He has totaled 16.0 sacks in his career.
DE John Abraham increased his sack total to 38.0 in a Falcons uniform, bringing down Brees for an eight-yard loss on a first-down play in the third quarter. Abraham ranks seventh on the Falcons all-time sacks list and sits just .5 sacks behind Don Smith, who totaled 38.5 in six seasons from 1979-84.
For the second time this season, LB Curtis Lofton led the team in tackles, finishing the game with eight total tackles (six solo). Lofton has recorded over 100 tackles in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. In 2010, Lofton has been credited with a total of 25 tackles in three games, according to coaches' breakdown.
Atlanta outgained New Orleans 417-398 in total yards. The Falcons are 2-0 in 2010 when outgaining their opponents.
The Falcons rushed 50 times for 202 yards and held a commanding 54-1 rushing advantage against the in the overtime period.
The Falcons finished the game with a 2 turnover differential, registering three takeaways, two picks and a fumble recovery and one giveaway on a fumble. Under Smith, Atlanta holds a 12-1 record when winning the turnover battle. With the win, Smith improved his overall record to 22-13. He also improved his record against NFC South opponents to 7-6.