The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints 23-13 and ended quarterback Drew Brees’s streak of having thrown a touchdown pass in a National Football League- record 54 straight games.
The Falcons, who have a league-leading 11-1 record, also caused Brees to throw a career-high five interceptions last night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Brees now has 16 interceptions for the season, most in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys’ Tony Romo has 15.
“Oddly enough, I felt as good as I have felt all season about the passing game, about throwing it, about our plan, about our scheme,” Brees said during a news conference. “The first one was a bad throw, the second one bad luck, the next one a bad decision, the next one was tipped and the next one was overly aggressive. It doesn’t matter how they happened, it’s that five happened. That’s never happened to me before.”
Michael Turner scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter and Atlanta made it 17-0 when Matt Ryan connected with Tony Gonzalez on a 17-yard scoring pass and Matt Bryant kicked a 45-yard field goal. Mark Ingram scored on a one-yard run for the Saints in the second quarter, leaving the Falcons with a 17-7 halftime advantage.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement,” Gonzalez said in a televised interview. “We almost let it slip away at the end. Fortunately we were able to go out there and close the game. Our goal is to get to the playoffs.”
Garrett Hartley kicked field goals of 21 and 52 yards in the third quarter to bring New Orleans within four points before Bryant added field goals of 29 and 55 yards in the final period.
William Moore had two interceptions for the Falcons, while Jonathan Babineaux, Thomas DeCoud and Sean Weatherspoon each grabbed one from Brees.
“It was a great game played by our defense,” Ryan said in a televised interview. “Our defense came out here and created five turnovers. We’ve been in close games and just couldn’t pull it out. Tonight felt good.”
Ryan completed 18 of 33 passing attempts for 165 yards and one touchdown. Brees connected on 28 of 50 attempts for 341 yards.
The Falcons top the four-team National Football Conference’s South Division, while the Saints are in third place at 5-7.