Falcons pick off Brees 5 times, beat Saints 23-13

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 30, 2012 at 2:51 am •  Published: November 30, 2012
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ATLANTA (AP) — Boy, did Drew Brees lay an egg against the Atlanta Falcons.

Five interceptions for the first time in his career.

The end of his NFL-record touchdown streak.

And a timing mistake that cost the Saints dearly.

The Falcons raced to a 17-0 lead, then turned to their defense to make it stand up. The result was a 23-13 victory Thursday night that pushed Atlanta to the brink of a division championship and may have finished off the Saints' fading hopes.

"Five interceptions against one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game," said Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. "That's an amazing feeling."

Brees had thrown a touchdown pass in 54 consecutive games, eclipsing Johnny Unitas' longstanding record earlier in the season.

"I can't lie," said safety William Moore, who had two of Atlanta's interceptions. "We didn't even know about it."

All the Falcons (11-1) cared about was beating their biggest rival and a nemesis in recent years. New Orleans (5-7) had won four in a row and 11 of 13, the bitter feelings in the series epitomized by the reception the Saints got at the Atlanta airport.

Their bus was pelted by eggs.

Brees looked like he was playing on egg shells at the Georgia Dome.

"That's the first time that's ever happened to me, so that's extremely disappointing," he said. "I pride myself on being a good decision-maker and not someone who will be a detriment to the game."

Michael Turner scored on Atlanta's opening possession, Tony Gonzalez hauled in a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan, and Matt Bryant booted three field goals, including a 55-yarder.

The defense did the rest. Thomas DeCoud, Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux also had interceptions, and another pick by Corey Peters didn't count because of a penalty. The performance was even more impressive considering the Falcons' best cover cornerback, Asante Samuel, left the game in the first quarter after aggravating a right shoulder injury.

"We got the monkey off our back," DeCoud said.

The Falcons will clinch the NFC South with a month to go if Tampa Bay loses at Denver on Sunday.

Brees threw an apparent scoring pass to Darren Sproles late in the first half, but it was nullified by a penalty. Then, with 12 seconds remaining in the half, Brees dumped a pass over the middle to Sproles with no timeouts. He was wrapped up at the Atlanta 3 and the clock ran out before the Saints could spike the ball to try a field goal.

A rookie-like mistake.

"Honestly, I thought we had more time than we did," Brees said. "The last time I remember, we had 17 seconds. ... But it was down to 7 when I looked up after the completion. That wasn't enough time to get the spike. That's on me."

Another possible TD pass went through the hands of Lance Moore early in the third, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal that made it 17-10.

Four days earlier, Brees had two passes picked off and returned for touchdowns in a loss to San Francisco.



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