With a nine-yard touchdown pass from QB Drew Brees to RB Darren Sproles, the signal-caller increased his passing yardage total on the season to 5,087, breaking a 27-year old record, also capping the Saints NFC-South clinching win over the Falcons Sunday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"It feels great to be division champs," said Brees. "It feels great to do what we just did on Monday night with the world watching. This game couldn't be more important than it was. Our hopes and aspirations of winning the division championships and getting the (No.) 2 seed – the next step was winning the division. It was a good night."
Atlanta won the coin toss and following a touchback by P Thomas Morstead, Falcons QB Matt Ryan threw a pass to WR Julio Jones, who was tackled by CB Jabari Greer after gaining only one yard.
On a third-and-two situation, Atlanta converted on a seven-yard pass play from Ryan to Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez. Three plays later, on a third-and-four situation, Ryan found Falcons RB Jason Snelling on a shovel pass that resulted in a 16-yard gain and then had a 20-yard completion to Falcons WR Roddy White.
On first down at the New Orleans 23, Atlanta RB Jacquizz Rodgers was stopped by Greer for a one-yard loss. Following an incomplete pass, Ryan completed a throw to Rodgers for an eight-yard gain, three yards short of the first down marker after being stopped by LBs Martez Wilson and Scott Shanle. Falcons K Matt Bryant booted a 34-yard field goal.
New Orleans would have starting position at their 16 and QB Brees would immediately go to the air as he completed a throw to WR Lance Moore that resulted in a 38-yard gain. RB Chris Ivory then carried for 11 yards to the Atlanta 35. Following an incomplete pass intended for TE Jimmy Graham, Brees and the tight end connected on an 11-yard throw. On the next play, RB Pierre Thomas ran right quarter for a 12-yard gain. Two plays later, Thomas rushed for eight yards and then four yards into the end zone for the 7-3 lead.
Starting at their 28-yard line, the Falcons would get their first, first down of the drive on a four-yard run by Turner and then a six-yard completion from Ryan to Gonzalez. Completions of 25 yards to Jones, 16 yards to White and then of 21 to Jones in the end zone gave the Falcons back the lead.
New Orleans would get the ball back with starting position at their 19-yard line. Brees and Graham would immediately connect on a 17-yard pass, followed by a rush by Sproles for seven yards and an eight-yard gain by Ivory on the final play of the first quarter.
Facing third-and-12, Brees and WR Marques Colston moved the chains on a 14-yard completion. Brees and his wideout then connected on a nine-yard pass, that was moved up 15 yards on a personal foul penalty assessed to Falcons LB Curtis Lofton. With field position at the 14, Ivory gained six yards on a rush before being tackled by Lofton followed by an eight-yard scoring pass to Colston.
Following a Morstead touchback, Atlanta had starting position at their 20. Following a six-yard rush by Turner, the running back gained three more. On third-and-one, Atlanta attempted play action, but a hard hit by S Malcolm Jenkins broke up a potential reception by Falcons TE Reggie Kelly, forcing the punt unit out.
Starting at the 26, Brees was sacked by Atlanta DT Vance Walker for a loss of eight yards. On second down, he completed a throw to WR Devery Henderson for a seven-yard gain. On third-and-11, a completion to Colston moved the chains at the middle of the field, before he was stopped by Atlanta CB Brent Grimes at the 38-yard line.
With a fresh set of downs, Brees handed off to Thomas, who was stopped after gaining two yards by Falcons DT Corey Peters. On second down, a throw was completed to Moore, where he gained 15 yards to the Falcons 45-yard line. Ivory then ran right on a play, but T Zach Strief was called for a holding penalty. A screen then went to Sproles who scampered up to the 42-yard line, setting up second and seven. A pass to Colston was incomplete with Grimes in coverage.
With third-and-seven, a throw went to Colston near the Saints sideline to the 19-yard line for a 23-yard gain moving New Orleans into the red zone. A pass for Henderson inside the five was broken up by Falcons S William Moore. On second down, a handoff went to Thomas who gained four yards to the 15. On third-and-six, Sproles was held by Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon on a pass attempt, advancing New Orleans to the 12-yard line and moving the chains. A pass to Graham in the end zone, popped off of Graham's hand and went into the hands of Atlanta CB Dominique Franks.
Atlanta got on first down, but then a pressure on first and ten at the 42, forced Ryan to misfire and then CB Patrick Robinson broke up a pass intended for Jones. Following an Atlanta timeout on third-and-ten, Rodgers was called for holding, setting up third-and-20 at the 32, where Ryan completed a pass to White at the 44, but was eight-yards short of the marker, stopped by LB Jonathan Vilma forcing Matt Bosher and the Atlanta punt unit out where his 56-yard kick went into the end zone.
Following an incomplete pass, Sproles ran for five yards at the two minute warning. On third down, Brees eluded pressure and completed a pass for ten yards to WR Robert Meachem for a ten-yard gian and the first down. With a fresh set of downs, Colston was unable to hold onto the ball on a play that would have been for a long gain, where he was hit by S Thomas DeCoud. Sproles then ran up the middle for a gain of three yards to the 38.
On third-and-seven, New Orleans was called for a delay of game penalty, but Brees and Meachem then connected on a 41-yard gain to the 27. On the play, Brees reached the 5,000 yards passing mark on the season. After Brees quickly spiked the ball, he completed a throw to Colston for a gain of two and called a timeout with 35 seconds left on the clock. Sproles took a run play up the middle to the nine-yard line, with another quick timeout. Brees then threw high and Graham got up and got it to give the Saints a 21-10 lead.
Coming out of the locker room at halftime, New Orleans would start at their 21. On the first play of the second half from scrimmageThomas ran right for a two-yard gain before being stopped by Grimes and Lofton. Brees moved the chains with a throw to Henderson up the middle for a gain of 12. A pass by Brees was then thrown to Meachem, but bobbled and picked up for an interception by CB Dunta Robinson, where following a 14-yard return, he was tackled by FB Jed Collins at the 29-yard line.
Atlanta would be forced to a three-and-out though and following the punt they would have starting position at their 14-yard line. Sproles immediately broke out for a run up near the Falcons sideline for a 36-yard gain, setting up a first down at midfield. Ivory then took a handoff to the 44-yard line. Brees then threw to Thomas for a three-yard gain, setting up third-and-one at the 41. A completion to Graham for a five-yard gain, moved the chains as well as putting the Saints in field goal position. Thomas then carried for a gain of 12 yards. Then, a 24-yard throw to Meachem in the end zone, put New Orleans up 28-10.
The Falcons would start at their 20 and Ryan would fire a pass to Jones or a gain of40 yards before he was stopped by S Roman Harper. Turner then carried for a gain of three yards up the middle, where was stopped by DT Aubrayo Franklin and DE Cameron Jordan.
Atlanta was subsequently pushed back to the 41 with a false start penalty. Ryan and Turner got seven of it back on a throw before he was tackled by Turner. On third-and-three, Atlanta was called for an illegal use of hands to the face penalty assessed to Atlanta lineman Tyson Clabo. On third-and-16 from the 41. Ryan found Jones for a pass play that put them back in field goal range, where Falcons K Matt Bryant kicked a 51-yard field goal.
The passing yardage record wouldn't happen on New Orleans' next drive, as Sproles returned the kickoff 92 yards. New Orleans wouldn't convert though and Saints K John Kasay would hit a 29-yard field goal to have New Orleans surpass the 30-point mark.
Atlanta would then start at their 20. They would get one first down. Following an incomplete pass on first down at the 31, Ryan completed a throw to Turner, where he was tackled at the 43-yard line by Vilma and DT Tom Johnson was called for a personal foul penalty.
A subsequent pass intended for White was broken up by Jenkins. On a completion to Snelling, he was tackled by Robinson for a gain of only two yards. On third-and-eight, a throw was completed to White for a first down and a gain of 12, before he was tackled by Vilma. In the final play of the third quarter, Turner carried near the Falcons sideline for a four-yard gain before he was tackled by DE Junior Galette and Robinson.
A pass intended for White in the end zone was incomplete, setting up third-and-six at the 24-yard line, where White made a diving catch to convert the first down. Ryan then completed a throw to Falcons TE Michael Palmer who advanced to the seven-yard line, where he was tackled by LB Scott Shanle. Ryan threw a pass to Jones in the end zone, but he caught it out of bounds. A rush by Smith forced the quarterback to toss it out of bounds and he was called for an intentional grounding penalty. A pass was completed to White on third-and-16, but he was dropped by Greer and S Jonathon Amaya, 12 yards short of the first down. Bryant would kick a 30-yard field goal to put the Falcons back within 15.
New Orleans started at their 20, but a three-and-out resulted, forcing the punt unit out, where Weems called for a fair catch at the Atlanta 27-yard line. Ryan completed a pass for an eight-yard gain to Jones, but he was tackled by Shanle, who forced the ball loose and it was picked up by S Malcolm Jenkins at the 30-yard line and returned it for the touchdown.
Atlanta would quickly move into the red zone, paced by a handful of passes to White. At first-and-ten from the 18, a pass in the end zone was broken up by Shanle, intended for Gonzalez.
Ryan then completed a throw to the tight end for a gain of nine at the nine-yard line, before he was tackled by CB Johnny Patrick. A pass into the end zone intended for White was incomplete, but Atlanta was called for offensive pass interference with the penalty declined. Setting up fourth-and-one at the nine. A quick pass rush would set up an incomplete pass, giving New Orleans the ball back.
Starting at the nine, Brees handed off to Ivory, who was stopped by a gang of Atlanta defenders for a loss of two. It was followed by an incomplete pass intended for Colston. Brees scrambled for a nine-yard gain, creating fourth down and three and bringing Morstead out. The punter booted a 59-yard punt and Weems called a fair catch at the 21-yard line.
Following a false start penalty, Ryan completed a pair of passes, setting up third-and-four. Ryan completed a throw to WR Harry Douglas, but was stopped by Greer, one yard short of the first down marker. A fourth down pass was defended by Porter forcing another turnover on downs.
A first down pass intended for Graham was incomplete. On second-and-ten, Thomas ran for one yard. Brees then moved the chains with a 12-yard throw to Colston. Followed by a throw to Henderson for 11 yards. It was followed by an incomplete throw. Brees then on a nine-yard scoring throw to Sproles, set Marino's 27-year record.