Saints Beat “Dirty Birds” as Time Expires, 20-17
Jamarca Sanford's interception of a Matt Ryan pass set up Kyle Forbath's 30 yard field goal as time expired as the New Orleans Saints ended a disappointing season on a high note with a 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons, giving New Orleans a season sweep of their arch rivals.
Sanford's interception came on first down as Atlanta played from their own 24 yard line. The Saints moved the football down to the three yard line and let the clock run down to :03 remaining, setting up Forbath for the game winner.
Drew Brees completed 32 of 42 passes for 323 yards and one touchdown. Tim Hightower led the Saints' ground game with 66 yards on 16 carries.
Matt Ryan was 24-36 for 334 yards and two scores and the one interception. Devonte Freeman gained 81 yards on 24 carries.
The Falcons (8-8) got on the board in their first possession on a Shayne Graham 51 yard field goal, but the Saints (7-9) answered with an eight play, 70 yard drive. A 36 yard pass from Drew Brees to Travarous Cadet was the big play, culminating in Tim Hightower's one yard run to give the Saints a 7-3 lead with 3:13 remaining in the first quarter.
Atlanta then went back to work as Matt Ryan hit Tony Moeaki with a 42 yard touchdown catch and run to put the Falcons back on top, but the lead was short lived as the Saints Brees hit Brandon Coleman with a 22 yard pass and then found Benjamin Watson, who made a great catch in the end zone for a 14-10 lead.
The Saints' Cameron Jordan blocked a field goal on Atlanta's next possession, but the Saints couldn't capitalize as WIllie Snead was stopped inches short of a first down at the Falcons' 17 yard line with 3:29 until halftime.
That was plenty of time for Ryan, who hit Julio Jones for 27 and 14 yards to set up a short touchdown pass to Devonte Freeman as Atlanta regained the 17-14 lead at halftime. The drive was aided by a 15 yard face mask penalty on third and four from the Saints' 47.
The Saints tied the game with their first possession of the third quarter on Kyle Forbath's 41 yard field goal Atlanta then drove from its own 27 to the Saints' three yard line, but John Jenkins stripped the ball from Freeman and recovered the fumble to end that threat.
But the Saints returned the favor after a 93 yard drive when Cadet fumbled at the Atlanta one yard line and replay was inconclusive, giving the Falcons the ball right back with 6:11 left in the fourth quarter and stopping a 15-play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. The teams then exchanged punts before the interception.