NEW ORLEANS—Drew Brees atoned for two interceptions and the Saints avenged a September defeat at the hands of the Falcons.
Brees threw a 6 yard fourth quarter touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham with 3:28 to play as the Saints beat the Falcons 17-14 Monday night in Atlanta. The defeat was only the second for Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan at home in three seasons as the Falcons starting quarterback. The win clinched a playoff spot for the Saints (11-4) and kept New Orleans in the hunt for the NFC South Title and the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
On the Saints next possession, Brees' attempted screen pass was batted into the air and intercepted by Falcons defensive end John Abraham. But, the Saints defense stiffened and gave Brees and the offense another chance.
The Saints defense was outstanding. The Falcons had 215 net yards and converted only 3 of 12 on third down.
A pair of Falcon fumbles were key. In the second quarter, a botched shotgun snap by Falcons center Todd McClure was recovered by Jonathan Vilma at the Falcons 34 yard line. The Saints turned that mistake into a touchdown on a 2 yard run by Pierre Thomas.
In the third quarter, Falcons runnig back Michael Turner was stripped off the ball at the Saints one yard line by linebacker Marvin Mitchell. The fumble was recovered by defensive end Jeff Charleston.
The Saints can win the NFC South title and claim homefield with a win Sunday at home over the Bucs and a Falcons loss at home to Carolina.