The undefeated New Orleans Saints showed plenty of determination
in their last game, much as they did in their first meeting with
the Atlanta Falcons, whose injuries could be too much to overcome
when the NFC South rivals meet again Sunday.
New Orleans (12-0) clinched the division title and tied a
franchise record for wins in a season with a wild comeback last
week, beating Washington 33-30 in overtime.
“I’ve never been a part of anything so great,” Saints running
back Mike Bell said.
The Saints lost five games by three points or fewer last season.
This year’s team has been much different, posting two significant
comeback victories on the road.
The Saints rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Miami 46-34
in Week 7, and their latest victory was even more exhilarating.
After Washington’s Shaun Suisham missed a 23-yard field goal
with under two minutes to play, New Orleans’ Drew Brees tied the
game less than a minute later with a 53-yard touchdown pass.
Garrett Hartley won it with an 18-yard field goal in OT.
The Saints never led until Hartley’s kick in a game filled with
momentum-changing moments. New Orleans needed a replay reversal to
get a fumble called on Washington’s Mike Sellers that set up the
Late in the first half, a Saints punt hit Redskins cornerback
Kevin Barnes on the back and New Orleans recovered. A few plays
later, Brees was intercepted by Kareem Moore, but New Orleans
receiver Robert Meachem stripped the ball and ran for a TD.
“We find a way to win,” Bell said. “That’s what good teams do,
The Saints overcame four turnovers to beat Atlanta 35-27 on Nov.
2. Brees was intercepted and lost a fumble, but passed for 308
yards and two scores.
Pierre Thomas lost a fumble for New Orleans, but also scored two
touchdowns as the Saints rushed for 146 yards.
New Orleans, though, struggled to run the ball versus
Washington, finishing with a season-low 55 yards on the ground.
Without Michael Turner, Atlanta (6-6) was held to 61 yards
rushing in a 34-7 loss to Philadelphia last Sunday. Turner was one
of six offensive starters, including quarterback Matt Ryan, to miss
time in that matchup as the Falcons lost for the third time in four
The worst defeat in Mike Smith’s two years as coach left Atlanta
on the fringe of the wild-card race.
“We’ve just got to get everybody together and keep practicing
and go out there and try to fight our way to a victory,” receiver
Roddy White said. “Man, hopefully we get some of our guys back this
week and get everything back together and try to win us a
Atlanta may have a tough time doing so without Ryan, who
protected his turf toe injury by wearing a walking boot on the
sideline. Ryan, injured in a 20-17 win over Tampa Bay on Nov. 29,
is expected to practice this week.
He was picked off three times in the Nov. 2 matchup with the
If Ryan can’t play, Chris Redman will make his second straight
start. He threw two interceptions and had one returned for a TD
against the Eagles.
Turner’s status is also uncertain after hurting his ankle
against the Buccaneers. Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood split
time against Philadelphia, combining for 53 yards on 21
Receiver Michael Jenkins and offensive linemen Sam Baker and
Harvey Dahl also sat out for the Falcons last week. Center Todd
McClure left with a right knee injury.
“We’ve got an injury list right now that is pretty long,” Smith