- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: For a change, the Falcons beat their biggest nemesis. For just the third time in the era of coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, Atlanta came away with a victory against the Saints. That puts the Falcons at 11-1 and keeps them in the lead for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The loss drops the Saints to 5-7 and pretty much ends their chances of making it to the playoffs.
The streak is over: Drew Brees' streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass came to an end at 54 games. Brees had a first-half touchdown to Darren Sproles called back by an offensive pass-interference penalty and Lance Moore also was unable to haul in what looked like a catchable pass in the end zone.
Not the night for QBs: Brees and Ryan are two of the best quarterbacks in the league, but they didn’t play like it in this one. Brees was intercepted five times and Ryan was unusually out of rhythm on a night when the Falcons didn't convert a first down until the fourth quarter.
Show of faith: I didn’t like Smith’s decision to attempt a 55-yard field goal, especially since kicker Matt Bryant had been a bit shaky in recent weeks. But Smith showed faith in his kicker and Bryant made the field goal to give the Falcons a 23-13 lead with 4:25 remaining.
Play of the night: Bryant’s kick might not have been possible if it hadn’t been for a huge play by John Abraham. With the Saints driving, Abraham sacked Brees with 10:30 left in the game to take the Saints out of field-goal position and force a punt.
What’s next: The Saints travel to play the New York Giants on Dec. 9. The Saints play at Carolina on that same day.
5hEric D. Williams