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Falcons vs. Saints 2015 final score: Atlanta no longer undefeated after 31-21 New Orleans win

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The Falcons fall to 5-1, while the Saints improve to 2-4 on the season.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are no longer undefeated after falling to the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football. Atlanta made plenty of mistakes, with questionable decisions on offense to miscues on special teams. The Saints won the game 31-21, and improve to 2-4 on the season. Atlanta is now 5-1 on the year.

Drew Brees was excellent as always for the Saints, with 30 of 39 completions for 312 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Devonta Freeman led the way for the Falcons once again, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also had eight receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown. It wasn't enough to carry the Falcons to victory, even if they did out-gain the Saints handily on the ground, with 150 rushing yards to New Orleans' 75.

A lot of things went right for the Saints early in the game. On their opening possession, they drove 80 yards in 12 plays, and running back Mark Ingram took a touchdown in from 2 yards out. On the very next drive, they forced the Falcons to turn it over on downs when they went for it in New Orleans territory. That play wound up being a fumble, as well, but the Falcons recovered it.

Then, on Atlanta's next possession, the Saints blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. That gave them a commanding 14-0 lead, but the Falcons responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive capped off by a Roddy White touchdown.

New Orleans kept up the pressure in the second half, though. They connected on a 31-yard field goal and Drew Brees found tight end Benjamin Watson for a 2-yard touchdown. Atlanta got back on the board in the fourth quarter though, when Devonta Freeman powered in for a 25-yard touchdown.

The officials missed a clear horsecollar penalty on the Saints in the fourth quarter, and then called the Falcons for facemask on a later drive.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, that put the Saints in excellent position for another score. The Saints did score, a 1-yard rushing touchdown from Ingram and that put the game out of reach for Atlanta. The missed call was unfortunate, but the Falcons did plenty to shoot themselves in the foot in this game.

Three things we learned from Thursday's game

Freeman is excellent, but Coleman deserves touches

The Falcons offense stalled when they stopped running the football, and it's easy to see why. Devonta Freeman has been ridiculous this season, looking a lot like DeMarco Murray did last season. He's taken opponents by surprise every week and on Thursday, he did it again against the Saints, He had over 100 yards and a touchdown of 25 yards.

But Coleman was also effective in limited time. He had four carries for 40 yards, and while the Falcons shouldn't give him too many of Freeman's carries, the rookie has fresh legs and he looks ready to produce big time in the NFL. Still, you can't argue with giving Freeman the bulk of the carries as he now has nine touchdowns on the season.

Watson is still pretty good!

Everyone asked where Brees was going to throw to after Jimmy Graham was traded to the Seahawks this offseason and on Thursday, the answer was clear: tight end Benjamin Watson. Watson is playing in his 12th season, and played in all 16 games for the Saints last season, catching 20 passes for 136 yards. He didn't see the field much because he wasn't needed.

On Thursday, Watson was Brees' primary target. He was targeted 12 times and caught 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown in the game. On the entire season, Graham has 204 yards and two touchdowns for the Seahawks. Watson doesn't have a lot of time left in the NFL, but he's producing for the Saints.

The Panthers might now be division favorites

Going into Thursday's game, the NFC South looked like a two-team race between the Falcons and Carolina Panthers. Both teams were undefeated, and both were looking great on both sides of the ball. But the Falcons clearly struggled against the Saints, while the Panthers took them down already in Week 3. Carolina will have its biggest test of the year against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, however.