Falcons pull off shocker over Saints

D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Football

NEW ORLEANS -- Finally, the Falcons put together four quarters of quality football this season.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, in his first game back from an ankle sprain, directed the Falcons to a 26-9 victory Sunday to silence the normally boisterous crowd at the Superdome.

Ryan cobbled together four scoring drives of 10 plays or more, including a 17-play masterpiece that helped to shield the defense, as the Falcons improved to 2-7 and snapped a six-game losing streak.

The Saints are now 7-2 and had a six-game winning streak broken. The last time a 1-7 team scored a win over a 7-1 team was Nov. 9, 2003, when the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts.

The Falcons, who entered the game with only seven sacks, found a pass-rushing groove and came up with six sacks against the normally elusive Drew Brees.

Ryan completed 20 of 35 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He finished with a passer rating of 78.5.

It was his first game back since halting a streak of 163 starts (154 regular season, nine playoffs).

The Falcons rushed 34 times for 143 yards for a 4.2 yard per carry average to help win the time of possession battle.

The Falcons' previous rushing high was 103 yards Oct. 13 against Arizona.

After Ryan tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Brian Hill, the Falcons held a 20-9 lead with 14:53 to play.


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