News

Saints shackle Falcons to maintain edge over Panthers

Saints shackle Falcons to maintain edge over Panthers

SAINTS SHACKLE FALCONS: New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) and Atlanta Falcons punter Matt Bosher (5) and place kicker Matt Bryant (3) react after a missed field goal late in the game during the second half. Photo: Reuters

(Reuters) – The New Orleans Saints ground out a vital 17-13 win over the struggling Atlanta Falcons on Thursday to maintain their division lead over a surging Carolina Panthers.

The Saints were far from their best in the road game but improved to 9-2 on the season with their third straight win while the Falcons slumped to 2-9 following a fifth consecutive loss.

After leading by a single point at halftime, a Garrett Hartley field goal supplied the only score of a grinding second half for the visitors.

Falcons wide receiver Darius Johnson fumbled early in the fourth quarter while in a scoring position, coughing up a key turnover in the home side’s quest for an upset victory.

New Orleans remains top of the NFC South division with the Panthers (7-3) in the midst of a six-game winning run and a game in hand against Miami on Sunday.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 23-of-33 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns while tight-end James Graham had a 100-yard receiving game from just five receptions.

“We knew what type of game it was going to be. I guess nine of our last 12 games with these guys have gone down to the last possession and it did again today,” Brees told reporters.

“They are a great football team despite what their record might say and we knew that.

“Obviously, any time you go on the road in your division it is hard to get a win so we battled on both sides of the ball, played very well, gritted it out and got the win.”

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 30-of-39 passes for 297 yards but failed to throw for a score.

The home side showed plenty of intent from the outset, marching down the field in the opening drive with Steven Jackson capping it off with a one-yard touchdown run and an early 7-0 Falcons lead.

However, the Saints matched them by scoring on their opening drive, Benjamin Watson the beneficiary of a one-yard pass from Brees to tie it up at the end of the first quarter.

Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant gave his side a 10-7 lead with a 39-yard field goal before Brees found James Graham with a long bomb, and he took it to the end zone for a 44-yard score.

Another Bryant field goal as the half came to a close gave the visiting Saints a slender 14-13 halftime lead.

Hartley extended the advantage to 17-13 with a field goal early in the second half and the four-point margin held firm.

Latest Headlines

16 hours ago in Viral Videos

WATCH: Annoying Windows reminder interrupts live TV report

20-overlay-12

Please excuse this interruption ...

20 hours ago in Sports, Weird

Shall I compare thee to a carburetor? Indy 500 gets a poet

indy500383817720211

An Indiana University student who is a poet and a performer has been named the Indianapolis 500's first official poet since the early 20th century.

23 hours ago in Music

Will Ferrell recruits ‘lookalike’ Chili Peppers rocker Chad Smith for charity bash

willferrell230305025701

The Red Hot Benefit Comedy + Music Show & Quinceanera will take place in Los Angeles, and Smith's Red Hot Chili Peppers pals and Devo will also hit the stage, while comics Jim Gaffigan and Nick Offerman will perform.

23 hours ago in Sports

PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans preview

25-overlay-9

Headlining the field is No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, Jason Day, who is looking to capture his third victory of 2016.

23 hours ago in Sports

No Curry, no problem

10-overlay-11

The Golden State Warriors did not skip a beat without key point guard Stephen Curry, routing the Houston Rockets 114-81 on Wednesday to seal a 4-1 series triumph in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.