Well, we did say to throw the records out the window. The Saints came out looking to prove something on national television Thursday night. Starting on the opening possession, New Orleans began to take control of the game. Drew Brees and company accumulated a 12 play, 80 yard drive that was capped off on a 2-yard touchdown run by Mark Ingram. Unfortunately for Atlanta, that was just the beginning.
Atlanta came back on their opening possession, but the drive stalled when Matt Ryan muffed a hand off on a 4th and 1. It was the first of many miscues that allowed New Orleans to take control of the game. Later in the first quarter, Michael Mauti let out his inner Steve Gleason by blocking a punt and recovering it for a touchdown to put the Saints up 14-0.
Atlanta was able to stay composed and answer the Saints’ score with a touchdown of their own. Matt Ryan hooked up with Roddy White from 7 yards out to cut the lead to 14-7. The rest of the half was dominated by the Falcons, however, they continually failed to capitalize on opportunities.
After stopping the Saints, Atlanta was driving down the field when Tevin Coleman was stripped from behind for the Falcons’ first turnover of the game. The Atlanta defense stood strong again and got Matt Ryan the ball back, but another costly mistake in the red zone cost Atlanta a golden opportunity to tie the game. Backup center James Stone, who was started in place of the injured Mike Person, botched a snap and the Saints recovered the football. Atlanta went into the locker room trailing despite outgaining the Saints by almost 100 yards.
The Saints’ offense got the scoring going again in the second half. A 11 play, 56 yard drive led to a field goal to put the Saints up 17-7. The Atlanta offense sputtered in the third, as the offensive line could not protect Matt Ryan, who was sacked five times on the evening. The Saints increased their lead to 17 when Brees hit Watson on a fourth down play from the 2-yard line. Watson had a career game as he caught 10 balls for 127 yards and a touchdown. Freeman cut the lead back to 10 with a 25-yard TD run, but Atlanta could not get an closer than that, as they fell to the Saints, 31-21.