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Falcons 26, Saints 9: Atlanta stuns their rival in an impressive NFC South win

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In a lost season, Atlanta still finds a way to upset their hated rivals.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons 1-7 season may effectively be over, but that doesn’t mean they can’t play spoiler within their own division. Going up against a Saints team that is 7-1 may seem like a game destined for disappointment, but division rivalry games seemingly never go by the script. Did Atlanta find a way to garner the huge upset in New Orleans? Read on to see how it all went down.

First quarter

After winning the toss and electing to receive, the Falcons offense starts on their own 25. The first play is a big gain by Calvin Ridley on a jet sweep for 19 yards. A penalty during a Devonta Freeman run gives the Falcons 5 yards and a 1st down. A short pass to Keith Smith is followed by a 10 yard run for the 1st down by Freeman. He follows that up with another 12 yard run. A 4 yard run by Devonta is followed by a first down run by Kenjon Barner. Back to back false start penalties sets up 1st and 20 from the Saints 23. After a run for a minimal gain and a short pass to Russell Gage, on 3rd and 16, Matt Ryan is pressured immediately and Atlanta gets called for holding. Younghoe Koo comes on for the 37 yard field goal and nails it.

Falcons 3, Saints 0

From their own 25, the Saints offense starts with a short run by Latavius Murray. Alvin Kamara runs for 8 on the next play to setup 3rd and 1. Murray picks up 5 on the next run for the 1st down. Drew Brees then finds Michael Thomas for 16 yards and another first down. Brees finds Jared Cook for 22 yards and yet another first down. Taysom Hill comes in at QB and throws a back shoulder pass to Michael Thomas down the sideline to setup 1st and goal. After Murray is stopped for no gain and Sheffield stopping Taysom Hill short of the endzone, on 3rd and goal from the 2, De’Vondre Campbell gets into the backfield and sacks Brees, forcing New Orleans to go for the field goal, which they convert.

Falcons 3, Saints 3

Starting on their own 25, the Falcons start with a short run by Devonta. After a missed pass on 2nd and 8, Ryan connects with Calvin Ridley for 9 yards and the first down. A 9 yard pass to Russell Gage is followed by a first down run by Devonta Freeman up the middle. On 2nd and 11, Ryan passes to Freeman to set up 3rd and 4. Ryan throws to Devonta, but he can’t pull it in. The Falcons decide to go for it on 4th and 4, where Ryan runs it to pick up the first down. That play takes us to the end of the quarter.

Falcons 3, Saints 3

Second quarter

On the first play of the quarter, Ryan throws to Julio Jones who is unable to hold onto it after being rocked. On 2nd and 10, Brian Hill runs it for 7 yards up the middle to setup 3rd and 3. The Falcons run the wildcat with Kenjon Barner in the Mohamed Sanu role, but a Saints penalty gifts Atlanta with a first down. On 1st and 10 from the Saints 25, Freeman picks up 1 on a run up the middle. On 2nd and 9, the Saints get flagged for the 3rd time for hands to the face, giving the Falcons another 1st. A run by Freeman for 3 yards and a pass of 2 yard to devonta sets up 3rd and 5. Marshon Lattimore gets called for a hold and the Falcons get yet another first down. On 1st and goal from the 9, Brian Hill starts with a run for no gain. On 2nd and goal, Ryan connects with Austin Hooper for the touchdown.

Falcons 10, Saints 3

The Saints start with a screen to Murray for 1 yard. After a missed pass on 2nd and 9 after Brees is pressured out of the pocket by Allen Bailey, a false start sets up 3rd and 14. the Falcons defense holds. Kenjon Barner makes a nice return to almost midfield on the subsequent punt.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons start with a short run for 2 yards followed by a 5 yard pass to Austin Hooper, but a pass interference call against Ridley sets up 2nd and 18. Ryan connects with Gage to setup 3rd and 9 and they can’t keep the drive alive as Matt connects with Ridley, but short of the sticks. The Falcons punt.

Brees starts their next drive with a 9 yard pass to Michael Thomas. Latavius Murray runs for the first down on the next play. Brees connects with Thomas again for 13 yards and another first down. After a checkdown to the fullback gains nothing, Alvin Kamara runs for 6 to setup 3rd and 4. Adrian Clayborn finally shows up big with a sack to force fourth down and a Saints punt.

The Falcons offense starts with an incomplete pass to Julio, followed by another incomplete pass to Julio to set up 3rd and 10. Christian Blake stuns the Saints when he catches the pass from Ryan to convert the 3rd down. After the 2 minute warning, Ryan finds Julio wide open for a 54 yard gain. Hooper catches the next pass for 6 yards. After Freeman picks up 2 yards on a run up the middle, on 3rd and 2, Ryan is sacked. Koo connects on the 37 yard field goal to extend the lead.

Falcons 13, Saints 3

The Saints offense takes over with 1:31 to go in the first half and no timeouts. New Orleans gets a weak defensive PI call and follows it up with a big gain over the middle to Jared Cook. Two more catches by Cook put the Saints at the Falcons 38. A Michael Thomas reception is undone by a blatant face mask by Thomas. Another pass to Thomas is followed by a pass to Kamara before the Saints are forced to spike it, leaving 15 seconds on the clock. The Saints are called for tripping on the next play to set up 2nd and 20 with 9 seconds left. The Saints complete a short pass to Kamara and hit the field goal to take us into halftime.

Falcons 13, Saints 6

Third quarter

The Saints offense starts the second half from their 25 with a 4 yard pass to Kamara. Taysom Hill runs it for 11 on the next play, converting the first down. After a 4 yard run by Kamara, Kendall Sheffield makes a nice play, batting the ball out of the hands of Tedd Ginn Jr. On the next play, Isaiah Oliver stops the next pass short to force 4th and 3. The Saints line up to go for it, and it appeared they drew the penalty, but they are called for the false start instead, forcing a 4th and 8 and the punt.

On 1st and 10 from their 10, the Falcons can’t connect on the deep pass to Ridley. On 2nd and 10, Brian Hill picks up 5 yards and on 3rd and 5, Ryan connects with Julio for 10 yards and the first down. After a run by Hill for no gain and a false start, on 2nd and 15 Ryan can’t connect with Gage. On 3rd and 15, Ryan is unable to connect with Julio and the Falcons are forced to punt. A nice return by Deonte Harris puts the Saints in Falcons territory to start their drive.

A 2 yard run by Murray is followed by an incomplete pass to Ted Ginn Jr. On 3rd and 8, Brees has a century to pass it and connects with Tre’Quan Smith to convert the first down. After a quick slant pass to Thomas sets up 2nd and 2, Ginn runs it for the first down. After an incomplete pass on 1st and goal, Grady Jarrett destroys the left guard and gets a sack to force 3rd and goal. A short pass to Murray picks up 10 yards, but is well short of the goal line. The Saints convert the 28 yard field goal.

Falcons 13, Saints 9

The Falcons offense starts with a big 15 yard run by Brian Hill. After Hill picks up 4 on the next run and 1 yard on the following run, on 3rd and 5 Ryan can’t connect with Calvin Ridley, but yet another hands to the face penalty on the Saints gives Atlanta the first down. A short run by Hill is followed by a 15 yard gain by Calvin Ridley. Ryan connects with Julio Jones on the next play for a gain of 14 yards, but a replay shows it to be incomplete. On 3rd and 10, Ryan goes right back to Julio and this one is a catch for 13 yards and the first down. A run by Hill for a 2 yard loss is followed by A quick pass to Christian Blake for 5 yards. On 3rd and 8, Matt Ryan scrambles for the first down to keep the drive alive. On 2nd and 10 from the Saints 12, Ryan finds Gage with a 2 yard pass. That play takes us to the end of the quarter.

Falcons 13, Saints 9

Fourth quarter

On 3rd and 8, Matt Ryan finds Brian Hill in the end zone for the touchdown.

Falcons 20, Saints 9

The Saints start with great field position after the kickoff return from Deonte Harris. Alvin Kamara starts with a big run but on 2nd down, the Saints are called for holding. After a pass goes incomplete on 2nd and 14, Grady Jarrett demonstrates he’s underpaid by sacking Drew Brees again forcing another Saints punt.

The Falcons offense starts with a big run for 11 yards by Brian Hill for the first down. After a short run and a blown up play on 2nd down, on 3rd and 7, Ryan finds Austin Hooper for 9 yards and the first down conversion. After a first down run by Brian Hill for 5 yards, Hooper is tackled for a loss on a TE screen. On 3rd and 11, Ryan can’t find Julio Jones deep, setting up the punt. However, the Saints rough the punter on the play, gifting the Falcons with a first down. On 1st and 10 from the Saints 31, Brian Hill runs for no gain. After a throw away on 2nd and 10, the Falcons run the ball on 3rd and 10. Younghoe Koo comes on to nail the 48 yard field goal to extend the lead.

Falcons 23, Saints 9

Starting from their 20 yard line, the Saints start with a first down pass to Michael Thomas. On the next play, Grady Jarrett and Adrian Clayborn combine for the sack of Drew Brees to set up 2nd and 19. Kamara picks up a lot of those yards on the screen pass to set up 3rd and 4. Pressure from a blitz forces an overthrow by Brees and on 4th and 4, Vic Beasley gets the 6th sack for the Falcons and ends the drive for the Saints.

The Falcons offense takes over. After a run is set back by a holding call, on 1st and 20 Brian Hill picks up 2 yards on the run. On 2nd and 18, Ryan is picked off after taking the deep shot to Ridley. The Saints offense takes over on their own 11.

Brees quickly finds Cook for the pass over the middle for 7 yards, followed by an incomplete pass to Tedd Ginn that could have been an interception. On 3rd and 3, Brees misses Jared Cook deep down the sidelines. On 4th and 3, the Saints can’t convert.

The Falcons offense takes over on the Saints 18 and Brian Hill runs it for 3 on the first play. After Brian Hill picks up 2 more yards, on 3rd and 5, Hill can’t pick up the first down. Younghoe Koo comes on for the field goal and punches it through for a 3 score lead.

Falcons 26, Saints 9

The Saints offense takes over on their own 22 yard line after the kickoff return. After a first down pass to Kamara goes for virtually no gain, the next pass to Kamara sets up 3rd and short. Michael Thomas converts the first down and gets us to the 2 minute warning. Brees finds Thomas for another first down as the clock kept ticking. Kamara goes for 6 on the next play and Jared Cook converts the first on the next play. Tick tock. Tick tock. Brees connects with Kamara again for a short gain as the clock drops below 30 seconds. Thomas gets the first down and with 10 seconds left, Brees spikes the ball. The Saints ultimately cannot add another score, despite trying desperately to do so.

Final: Falcons 26, Saints 9