The New Orleans Saints handed the Atlanta Falcons their first loss of the 2012 season Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by a margin of 31-27.
The Falcons started the season on a roll, traveling to New Orleans with an unblemished 8-0 record. But, despite Atlanta’s successes, the Saints always seem to slow the Falcons down.
In their last 13 meetings, the Saints have now defeated the Falcons eleven times, and four straight overall.
The Saints rushed for 148 yards with a committee of running backs led by Chris Ivory, who rushed seven times for 72 yards and one touchdown.
On a key play in the first quarter, Ivory scampered and stiff-armed his way to a 56-yard touchdown run to cut the Falcons’ lead to three and swing the momentum toward the Saints.
Jimmy Graham had a huge game as well, snatching two touchdown catches from Drew Brees and compiling 146 yards, a new career high.
The Saints took the lead for good on a touchdown pass from Brees to Graham with 34 seconds remaining in the first half, but the second half had no shortage of drama.
Marques Colston scored his 55th career touchdown, tying Deuce McAllister’s club record, to open up the Saints’ lead to 28-17 early in the third quarter.
But the Saints offense managed only three more points the rest of the way, and the defense did their best to slow down a powerful Falcons offense.
Much like last Monday night’s game, the defense tightened up when the game was on the line. They forced two fourth-down stops in the last two minutes of the game, and the 73,000-strong home crowd erupted when Jabari Greer knocked away a pass intended for Roddy White on fourth-and-goal from the one yard line.
The Saints have now won four of their last five games and travel to Oakland next Sunday, where they will attempt to turn their 0-4 start into a 5-5 record.