Falcons vs. Saints 2013: New Orleans' defense shows improvement in win over Atlanta

Stacy Revere

The Saints' defense shined as the unit held Matt Ryan and the Falcons' offense in check during crunch time.

The battle for the NFC South title is an whirlwind that historically is ever-changing. The division has never had repeat winners in its history and Sunday's matchup between the Falcons and Saints may prove that the tradition will continue. Atlanta was last year's NFC South darling, but the Saints already posting a 23-17 victory over the division rival, it could be New Orleans that is once again is the leader of the pack. The close score is familiar to this rivalry, but typically more points are scored. Perhaps, the improvement of both teams' defensive units is something to take away from this Week 1 contest.

Hans Peterson of Canal St. Chronicles is pleased with the improvement of the Saints' defense:

I'm still fumbling around trying to find the right words as my emotions and heart are pounding after that thrilling victory that hearkened back to Saints openers of old.

At this time, it is highly appropriate to salute the entire Saints 2013 defensive squad and FFRR for bringing timely pressure to Matt Ryan, especially in the second half, and for digging deep late to preserve the win, when it seemed to be slipping away from them. Roman Harper secured both a fumble recovery and an interception, while Akiem Hicks, Junior Galette, and Parys Haralson (JunkBond paid off!!!) all notched sacks of Ryan. And give Keenan Lewis credit for forcing the fumble by Julio Jones. Aside from giving up some big plays and missing some tackles, the defense looked OK. Not great, but certainly not the s******** defense in the history of the NFL. Whew!

Alex Welch of The Falcoholic is frustrated by the Falcons' lack of urgency:

Atlanta almost put cruise control on in the early going, but that feature malfunctioned, along with the brakes and power steering. The second and third quarters were tough to watch. Matt Ryan did not have much time to throw as the game progressed, The Saints finished with three sacks and six hits on No. 2.

While the offense looked good at times, it just didn't feel in-sync for much of the game. Drives stalled, penalties caused problems and, let's face it, 17 points against a defense that just finished with the worst season in NFL history doesn't add up with the weapons the Falcons have.

The Saints will travel to Tampa Bay to play another division rival in the Buccaneers, while the Falcons will host the Rams in Week 2.

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