*The Saints improve to 9-2 with tonight’s 17-13 victory and have a 1 1/2-game lead in the NFC South over the Carolina Panthers (7-3); the Panthers play at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Saints will next play at the Seattle Seahawks (10-1) on Monday Night Football on December 2. Kickoff is 7:40 p.m.
*Following the win and moving to 9-2, it marks the Saints’ fourth winning season in five years and 11th overall, their fifth under Sean Payton as head coach of the Saints. It is their sixth win against the Falcons in the last seven games, giving the team a 43-46 record against Atlanta. It improves their record against Atlanta in the Georgia Dome to 12-10.
*The Saints held the Falcons scoreless in the second half, the first time New Orleans held an opponent scoreless in a half since playing Miami on September 30.
*QB Drew Brees completed 23 of 33 passes for 278 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 115.5.
*In the first quarter, Brees surpassed Warren Moon to now rank fifth in NFL history in passing yardage. Brees finished the night with 49,566 career passing yards. He ranks behind Brett Favre (71,838), Peyton Manning (63,059), Dan Marino (61,361) and John Elway (51,475).
*Brees topped the 200-yard passing mark for the 43rd straight game.
*WR Marques Colston caught four passes for 40 yards tonight.
*RB Pierre Thomas led the Saints with 73 yards rushing on 10 carries, including a crucial 18-yard rush on a second-and-17 play in the third quarter and also caught five passes for 57 yards, including a catch for a 16-yard gain on a third-and-15 play. Thomas moved past Chuck Muncie and Rueben Mayes into fourth place on the club’s all-time rushing list with 3,460 rushing yards.
*RB Mark Ingram got the start and carried nine times for 32 yards.
*RB Khiry Robinson also saw action and rushed once for four yards.
*Back in the state where he played his college football for the University of Georgia and returning from missing last week’s game against San Francisco following a concussion the previous week, TE Benjamin Watson caught a one-yard touchdown.
*TE Jimmy Graham led the Saints in receiving and receiving yardage with five grabs covering 100 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown grab. Graham also had a third quarter 35-yard grab on third down. With the touchdown reception, it was Graham’s 11th of the season, tying the franchise record which he previously tied in 2011 and is also held by Colston (2004) and Joe Horn (2004). It was Graham’s sixth 100-yard game of the season, tying him with Horn (2002) for the franchise record. He is also tied with Cincinnati WR A.J. Green for the most 100-yard receiving games this season.
*The Saints’ 15-play, 78-yard drive for their first touchdown of the day was tied for the longest scoring drive of the season in terms of plays. The Saints also had a 15-play scoring drive in the second quarter vs. Dallas, Nov. 10.
*CB Corey White, a native of neighboring Dunwoody, Ga., had a team-leading 10 tackles (four solo) and had a key fumble recovery of a ball that was forced out by OLB Keyunta Dawson.
*S Roman Harper got his first start since week two and finished with nine tackles (three solo).
*ILB Curtis Lofton posted nine tackles (three solo).
*S Kenny Vaccaro posted nine stops (four solo) and a pass defense while returning to action after missing the game against San Francisco after suffering a concussion the previous week.
*DE Cameron Jordan had six tackles (three solo), 2.5 sacks and one pass defense. Jordan now has a career-high 9.5 sacks on the season.
*DE Akiem Hicks had eight tackles (three solo) and a career-high 1.5 sacks.