Final

Falcons 27

(4-3, 1-3 away)

Saints 35

(7-0, 4-0 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, November 2, 2009

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 T
ATL 14 0 7 627
NO 7 21 0 735

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 308 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: M. Turner (ATL) - 20 CAR, 151 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: R. White (ATL) - 4 REC, 108 YDS, 1 TD

Ryan's third INT the costliest as Saints fend off furious rally to go to 7-0

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees and the Saints are so good right now they can't even beat themselves.

New Orleans overcame four turnovers for a second straight week to stay perfect with a 35-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, matching the best start in franchise history.

Fast Facts

• The Saints improved to 7-0, matching their best start in franchise history, as Drew Brees recorded his 34th career 300-yard passing game (fourth most among active players).

• Pierre Thomas scored both receiving and rushing for the third time in the last two seasons. Only Brian Westbrook (4) has more games with TDs on the ground and in the air.

• The Saints have scored 273 points this season, fourth most through seven games in NFL history and second most in a 7-0 start ('07 Patriots had 279).

• Jabari Greer's 48-yard interception return TD is the Saints' NFL-best sixth defensive score this season. For comparison's sake, the Browns have an NFL-worst five offensive touchdowns.

• Michael Turner rushed for 151 yards and a TD, the first time the Falcons have lost a game when Turner tops 100 yards rushing (now 9-1).

-- ESPN Stats & Information

Brees, responsible for two turnovers, passed for 308 yards and two scores. Pierre Thomas, who fumbled, also scored two touchdowns. Jabari Greer, who got burned for a deep touchdown, also returned an interception for a 48-yard score, helping the Saints improve to 7-0.

Only the 1991 Saints began a season with as many wins.

"We did a lot of things well and yet we did a lot of things that made it close at the end," coach Sean Payton said. "I'm excited to win though. I'm excited to win this game and get to 7-0. It was an important game against a division team and I'm proud of our players. They fought."

Greer's touchdown was the Saints' fifth score on an interception this season, tying a single-season franchise mark set in 1998. Tracy Porter also had an interception on the Saints 1-yard line on a pass tipped by Jonathan Vilma in the fourth quarter, preserving a 28-24 lead after Thomas' fumble had given Atlanta the ball on the Saints 35.

Brees-ing by Falcons

Drew Brees was stellar throwing the ball downfield. He threw better on longer passes against the Falcons than on short passes.

Brees by distance thrown
Under 15 yds 15 yds or more
Cmp-Att 17-24 8-9
Yards 131 177
TD-Int 1-0 1-1
Pass rtg 97.7 116.2

-- ESPN Stats and Information

Atlanta's Matt Ryan was intercepted three times, his third consecutive game with at least two picks.

"I'm not concerned at all," coach Mike Smith said of his second-year quarterback. "We're going to be judged on 16 games. Not one game and not three games."

Still, the Falcons stayed in it until the end, getting a 40-yard field goal from Jason Elam with 28 seconds left, then recovering an onside kick. Ryan only had time for a desperation heave in the final seconds, and Darren Sharper turned it into his seventh interception of the season.

Sharper's pick also was the Saints' 16th overall this season, surpassing New Orleans' total of 15 from 2008. The Saints have at least one interception in every game this season.

"The way we've been able to [get turnovers] and score is a big reason we're where we're at right now," Payton said.

Brees hit Marques Colston for an 18-yard score. Thomas scored on a 22-yard run in the first quarter and a 1-yard catch out of the backfield with 3:03 to go, flipping backward over a tackler and into the end zone. That touchdown made it 35-24 and led to Superdome chants of "Who dat say they gonna' beat them Saints?"

"Pierre did a good job of getting through that last defender," Payton said. "It was following the series where he fumbled and it was good to see him respond."

Reggie Bush had a 1-yard TD run late in the first half, giving the Saints a lead they would not relinquish.

Roddy White beat Greer on a 68-yard scoring pass from Ryan early in the third quarter, and the Falcons pulled to 28-24 on Elam's 25-yard field goal with 11:33 to go.

That field goal, however, came only after Payton sprinted down the sideline and launched his red flag about 20 yards, just in time to challenge a tying touchdown catch by White in the back of the end zone. Replays showed White allowed the ball to touch the turf as he bobbled the catch.

Atlanta's second consecutive loss dropped the Falcons (4-3) three games behind the Saints in the NFC South. It marked the first time the Falcons had lost two straight under second-year coach Smith.

"It's a disappointing loss but it's a long season," Ryan said. "There's a lot that can between now and Week 17. We've just got to take care of our business."

Atlanta also squandered Michael Turner's best game of the season. He had 151 yards rushing, including a 13-yard touchdown.

The Falcons' defense also produced a score. Thomas DeCoud's jarring sack on a delayed blitz up the middle dislodged the ball from Brees and Kroy Biermann returned it 4 yards, giving Atlanta a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter.

Brees also was intercepted on a spectacular leaping grab by Brent Grimes. The QB never got rattled though, completing 15 of his first 17 passes and leading three scoring drives in the first half.

"I don't think we played that great today," Brees said. "I think our best is yet to come."

Two of Brees' top targets were Colston, who finished with 85 yards on six catches, and tight end Jeremy Shockey, who caught five passes for 72 yards.

Atlanta had two first-half drives end on missed field goal attempts by Elam from 34 and 51 yards.

A little more than three years ago, the Falcons were the visitors when the Saints returned to the newly reopened Louisiana Superdome for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. That Monday night had a storybook start for the Saints, who scored on a blocked punt on Atlanta's opening drive.

With those vivid memories still fresh, the Superdome crowd was cheering wildly as the Saints defense took the field after the opening kickoff.

This time, however, Ryan calmly led the Falcons 77 yards for a score, with Turner gaining 38 of those yards, including his lone TD.

New Orleans answered when Thomas broke former LSU star Chevis Jackson's tackle near the line of scrimmage, then cut left away from John Abraham to tie it at 7.

Game notes


Saints center Jonathan Goodwin left late in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury and was replaced by Jamar Nesbit. ... Payton said WR Lance Moore had a shin injury. ... Brees has turned the ball over six times (four interceptions, two fumbles) in the past two games. ... Ryan has seven interceptions in his last three games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ATL
NO
1st Downs2123
Passing 1st downs
1215
Rushing 1st downs
87
1st downs from penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
3-117-12
4th down efficiency
1-20-0
Total Plays6970
Total Yards442437
Yards per play6.46.2
Total Drives1312
Passing281291
Comp-Att
19-4225-33
Yards per pass
6.28.3
Interceptions thrown
31
Sacks-Yards Lost
3-82-17
Rushing161146
Rushing Attempts
2435
Yards per rush
6.74.2
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-43-4
Penalties4-257-65
Turnovers34
Fumbles lost
03
Interceptions thrown
31
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11
Possession26:4633:14

Passing Leaders

ATLC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Ryan19/422896.9133-8
NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees25/333089.3212-17

Rushing Leaders

ATLCARYDSAVGTDLG
Turner201517.6137
Ryan393.005
NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thomas14916.5130
Bell17492.909

Receiving Leaders

ATLRECYDSAVGTDLG
White410827.0168
Gonzalez68914.8027
NORECYDSAVGTDLG
Colston68514.2129
Shockey57214.4027

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERATLNO
atlTD11:11Michael Turner 13 Yard Run (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 77 yds, 3:57
70
noTD5:35Pierre Thomas 22 Yard Run (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yds, 5:37
77
atlTD2:22Kroy Biermann 4 Yard Fumble Return (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 0 plays, 9 yds, 0:08
147
SECOND QUARTERATLNO
noTD10:44Marques Colston 18 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 6:36
1414
noTD1:10Reggie Bush 1 Yard Run (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yds, 1:41
1421
noTD0:52Jabari Greer 48 Yard Interception Return (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 2 plays, 6 yds, 0:23
1428
THIRD QUARTERATLNO
atlTD12:34Roddy White 68 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Jason Elam Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 68 yds, 1:26
2128
FOURTH QUARTERATLNO
atlFG11:36Jason Elam 25 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 14 plays, 70 yds, 6:45
2428
noTD3:09Pierre Thomas 1 Yard Pass From Drew Brees (John Carney Kick is Good)
Drive info: 11 plays, 81 yds, 5:27
2435
atlFG0:31Jason Elam 40 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 31 yds, 0:55
2735