by Hunter Dawkins

Almost 52 years ago, the rivalry between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons football game began with a number of close matchups, as both teams play twice a year because they are in the same division of the National Football League (NFL).  Sunday’s matchup was not a reflection of being a close call with a 26-9 win for the Atlanta Falcons.

With over 73,000 people in attendance of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Saints (7-2) did not ride their hot streak of six victories and could not find an answer for the uncertain Falcons (2-7) after coming off a bye week.

“They outplayed us, they out-coached us, and they deserve to win,” said New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton directly to The Gazebo Gazette.  “But shame on us if we can’t get these corrections made after film review.”

Opening the game on defense, the Saints traded short possessions with Atlanta, amounting to field goals between both teams, which ended the first quarter with a 3-3 score.

Defensive penalties became an issue for the Saints at the start of the second quarter.  These three penalties resulted in an 8 yard touchdown pass from Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan to Tight End Austin Hooper following a seventeen play drive.  When Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo put the extra point through with eight minutes left in the half, the new score was 10-3, Falcons lead.

Each team switched drives twice until the Falcons got the ball with just under three minutes left and drove inside the Saints red zone.  On a key third down, New Orleans linebacker and South Mississippi native Demario Davis sacked Ryan for an eight-yard loss and forced another field goal from Koo with 1:31 left in the half.

After a ten play drive near the Falcons red zone, New Orleans future Hall of Fame Quarterback Drew Brees could not find anyone near the end zone.  Saints kicker Will Lutz kicked the 47-yard field goal through the uprights to end the half with a respectable score of 13-6 lead by the Atlanta Falcons.

Unfortunately, there was no dome field advantage, as the only points the Saints could manage in the second half was a third quarter chip shot field goal from Lutz from 28 yards at 6:05 left making the score 13-9.

The Falcons countered with 13 fourth quarter unanswered points; including a touchdown pass from Ryan to running back Brian Hill and two more field goals from Koo.  Following Koo’s final field goal in the fourth, the score was 26-9 and the game was secured for the Falcons.

Saints Quarterback Brees finished with 287 yards passing and New Orleans All-Pro Receiver Michael Thomas had 13 receptions for 152 yards.

Even though Atlanta increased there all time victory rivalry against the Saints 53-48, New Orleans has an edge of 7 division championships compared to the Falcons with 6.  The Saints 7-2 record still keeps them in first place with a chance for another division championship while Atlanta’s 2-7 season, gives no realistic hope.

The New Orleans Saints will play at Tampa Bay this upcoming Sunday and Atlanta goes on the road against the Carolina Panthers.  New Orleans will have the chance to find revenge in this game on Thanksgiving at 7pm in the Georgia Dome.

(Photos by Associated Press and Hunter Dawkins)