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Game Preview: Saints vs. Falcons

Posted Dec 24, 2011

Coming off a 42-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field, the New Orleans Saints will return to their home turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the final two regular season games, starting with a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

A win by New Orleans against their divisional rivals would clinch the NFC South and at least one home playoff contest, while keeping them in play for the conference’s second seed and the first round bye that comes with it.

The Saints kept their two-game division lead at Minnesota, overcoming two early turnovers and finished with 573 total net yards, the third-highest total in club history and tying the club single-game record with 36 first downs. QB Drew Brees completed 32-of-40 throws for 412 yards with five touchdown passes.  He also set an NFL record with his 11th 300-yard passing performance of the season.

Four of Brees’ targets finished with at least five receptions and 70 receiving yards as he spread the ball around to nine players. WR Marques Colston finished with a game-high eight receptions for 91 yards. Lance Moore equaled that yardage total on five grabs, two of which went into the end zone.

RB Darren Sproles had five grabs for 79 yards with one TD. Accounting for 232 all-purpose yards. Jimmy Graham had seven catches for 70 yards and one scoring grab. An aggressive New Orleans defense allowed the Vikings to finish with only 207 net yards, including only 102 through the air as they were only able to convert 4of-14 third down opportunities.

The Saints sacked Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder four times. S Roman Harper had one, giving him 7.5 sacks for the season, the second-highest single season total in NFL record books for a defensive back.

GAMEDAY AT A GLANCE
DATE: Monday, Dec. 26
TIME: 7:30 (CT)
SITE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
WORTH NOTING: At 11-3, the Saints are currently two games ahead of second place 9-5 Atlanta in the NFC South and would clinch the division with a win.
*QB Drew Brees has 4,780 yards passing. With 305 passing yards, he would surpass Dan Marino (5,084-1984) for the NFL single-season record.
*New Orleans is ranked first in the NFL in offense (ninth rushing and first passing) and tied for 24th in defense (ranked 13th rushing and 28th passing).

TV/Radio
*Monday night’s contest will be nationally televised on ESPN with Mike Tirico handling play-by-play, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski serving as color analysts and Suzy Kolber as sideline reporter.
*A national radio broadcast is on Westwood One with Kevin Harlan handling playby-play and Boomer Esiason as color analyst.
*The game can be heard throughout the Gulf Coast on the Saints Radio Network (870 AM or 105.3 FM serve as the flagship stations in the New Orleans area) with Jim Henderson handling playby-play duties, Hokie Gajan as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the sideline.
*A Spanish language broadcast is available on WFNO 830 AM with Victor Quinonez handling play-by-play and Marco Garcia as color analyst.