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Ground game leads Saints to win

December 7th, 2008

Getty Images/C.Graythen

The Falcons lost a back and forth game to division rival New Orleans Saints 29-25 to drop their record to 8-5. The Falcons overcame an early 10-0 deficit to take a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter. From there the game went back and forth with five more lead changes, but the Saints were able to prevail in the end.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons with a strong performance, passing for 315 yards, completing 24 of 33 passes for a touchdown and also rushing for a 12-yard score as well. However, an interception on the Falcons first offensive drive led to the Saints first score and it was an uphill climb from that point on for the Falcons. Michael Turner was pretty much bottled up for most of the game, rushing for only 61 yards on 18 carries with a score. Roddy White led receivers with 10 catches for 164 yards. Michael Jenkins had 5 catches for 69 yards. Brian Finneran had 2 catches for 8 yards and caught Ryan’s lone touchdown pass.

Defensively, the Falcons had trouble slowing down the Saints ground attack giving up 184 rushing yards, including 122 in the first half. Keith Brooking led the Falcons in tackles with 10. Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles), Michael Boley (4 tackles), Erik Coleman (4 tackles), Chauncey Davis (4 tackles), Chris Houston (6 tackles), Chevis Jackson (4 tackles), Curtis Lofton (7 tackles), and Lawyer Milloy (5 tackles) had notable games.

Jason Elam made his lone field goal try of 23 yards. Michael Koenen had 4 punts for an average of 47.5 yards with 1 put inside the 20. Jerious Norwood had 6 kickoff returns for an average of 23.7 yards. Harry Douglas averaged 1 yard on 2 punt returns. Saints running back Pierre Thomas had a 88-yard kickoff return following the Falcons taking a 25-22 lead, overturning the Falcons momentum and setting up the go-ahead score for the Saints.

Next week the Falcons hope to have better luck against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what could be a must win situation for this team to make the postseason. The Falcons struggled against the Bucs in their Week 2 matchup, and hope to exact some measure of revenge.

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