You could say the Saints' defense won New Orleans the game Monday night, but without Drew Brees, they wouldn't have even been in contention for a 7-0 start and a first-place standing in the NFC South. Despite a fumble and interception in the first half, Brees once again showcased his pinpoint accuracy over the course of four quarters, completing 25 of 33 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns, including a 1-yard throw to running back Pierre Thomas that gave the Saints' an 11-point cushion with 3:03 remaining in the game. Josh Herwitt
The Saints were able to gain two-score leads at different times in the game, which likely saved them from seeing more of Michael Turner and possibly losing. With Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan struggling in the first half, Turner shouldered the load and kept the Falcons somewhat close at the break, scoring the game's first touchdown on a 13-yard dash to the end zone. Turner continued to run over defenders in the second half, finishing with 151 yards on 20 carries.
When you get to play alongside Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey week in and week out, you often get to be the beneficiary of some great offensive work. That's what happened Monday night for Saints wide receiver Marques Colston. New Orleans' long and talented pass catcher made the most his opportunity, making some spectacular catches down the stretch, including this 18-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter while in between two Atlanta defenders.
When Michael Vick was suspended for his involvement in dog fighting two years ago, it seemed as if the Falcons' future looked bleak. The Falcons' outlook, however, quickly changed with quarterback Matt Ryan being drafted in 2008 and leading Atlanta to the playoffs. And while he has made the Falcons a contender in the NFC South once again this year, it wasn't to be for Ryan on Monday night in New Orleans. Despite finishing with 289 yards, the second-year signal caller completed only 19 of 42 passes and threw three interceptions, including a costly one late in the fourth quarter with the Falcons down four points and in the Saints' red zone.
The Saints are known best for their high-powered offense, led by quarterback Drew Brees, but New Orleans showed Monday night that it's got some defensive prowess, too. Sean Payton's team picked off Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan three times, including a critical one by Jabari Greer at the end of the first half that resulted in a 48-yard touchdown and a 28-14 halftime lead. Oh yeah, and the Saints also sacked Ryan three times while limiting the Falcons to just a 27-percent conversion rate (3-for-11) on third down.