Kevin C. Cox
The Falcons scored 17 unanswered to open their Thursday night meeting with the Saints and didn't look back, beating their NFC South rivals, 23-13.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 165 yards and a touchdown and Matt Bryant connected on three field goals.
The Falcons started fast in the key AFC South showdown, scoring on their first drive, which went 80 yards in six plays and was capped by Michael Turner's 3-yard touchdown run. Turner ended the night with 83 yards rushing and that one score.
Drew Brees and the Saints were unable to answer in the first 25 minutes of the game as Brees was intercepted twice and led the Saints on drives of less than 20 yards on four of their first five possessions. Brees finished with a career-high five interceptions and no touchdown passes, snapping his NFL-record streak of 54 consecutive games with a touchdown strike.
After a touchdown catch from Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, followed by a kick from Bryant gave the Falcons a 17-point edge, the Saints finally responded with Mark Ingram's 1-yard run near the end of the second quarter.
Saints kicker Garrett Hartley brought the Saints back within four points in the third quarter with two field goals of his own, one from 21 yards out and another from 52. But Bryant would answer both kicks in the fourth quarter with strikes from 29 and 55 yards out to seal the win for the Falcons.
Fantasy studs and duds
Neither Drew Brees nor Matt Ryan — usually stud fantasy performers — were especially strong on the night and submitted less-than-stellar fantasy outputs for their owners. Brees threw for more than 300 yards, but his five picks were debilitating to his fantasy potential. Ryan threw for a touchdown, but ended the night with only 165 yards.
Tony Gonzalez's 58 yards with a touchdown catch was among the more impressive stat lines from skill players on the night. Saints wide receiver Lance Moore led the game with 123 receiving yards and Turner's 83 yards and a touchdown proved the best fantasy night among running backs.
Did they cover?
The Falcons came into Thursday night as 3.5-point favorites against the Saints, and more than covered with their 10-point win.
The Saints take on the New York Giants next Sunday, Dec. 9 at 4:25 p.m. ET at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The Falcons are also on the road as they take on the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. on Sunday.