The New Orleans Saints have improved to 9-2 with Thursday night’s win over the archrival Atlanta Falcons.
Games between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons tend to be close, even in a year when the red-hot Saints are again putting up record numbers, and Atlanta has pretty much completely imploded. Since 1991, 27 games between these two teams have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Last night was no exception. After a 44-yard Jimmy Graham touchdown (and a celebratory dunk that knocked the goalpost off-kilter), the matchup turned into a defensive battle, characterized by long, stalled drives by both teams and traded field goals.
The Saints defense sacked Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan five times, and a clutch timeout by Sean Payton to ice kicker Matt Bryant negated what would have been a 52-yard field goal to bring the Falcons within one.
The final score at the Georgia Dome: Saints 17, Falcons 13.
This was a short week for the Saints, who will now get some time off before traveling to Seattle to face the Seahawks on Dec. 2. Seattle has won six straight, and are sitting atop the NFC with a 10-1 record.
The Saints have already surpassed their win total from last year. The 2012 Saints ended the year 7-9 (despite suspensions of key members of the team and head coach Sean Payton)
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan had 22 career game-winning drives heading into this season. 12 weeks into this season, he has 22.
Jimmy Graham’s six 100-yard games so far this season ties with Joe Horn for the franchise record. He’s also tied for most 100-yard games in the league this season.
Kicker Garrett Hartley had a shaky few weeks, but he made a 41-yarder tonight, and two extra points.
Pierre Thomas had yet another standout night, rushing for 73 yards on ten attempts, including an 18-yard tear at 8:00 of the 3Q that started the drive going leading up to Garrett Hartley’s field goal. Thomas also had 57 receiving yards on the night.