The Atlanta Falcons took a 28-17 lead over the New Orleans Saints into halftime Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Falcons' scoring got started thanks to a special teams mistake by the Saints. Leading 7-0, New Orleans had forced Atlanta to punt on its first possession when De'Vante Harris ran into punt returner Tommylee Lewis. Harris tried to grab the ball, fumbled and the Falcons recovered. They quickly scored on a 2-yard TD run by Tevin Coleman.
The teams continued to trade touchdowns - a 13-yard touchdown pass from Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to Devonta Freemman, a 3-yard Drew Brees scoring pass to rookie Michael Thomas - until Atlanta scored back-to-back.
The first was a 2-yard TD run by Atlanta's Tevin Coleman and the second a 4-yard shovel pass from Ryan to Justin Hardy to cap a 94-yard drive. The Saints answered with a 57-yard field goal by Wil Lutz at the end of the second quarter.
The Saints got their first touchdown on a 2-yard pass from Brees to tight end Coby Fleener. It was Fleener's first touchdown as a Saint and 54th player and 39th Saint to catch a Brees touchdown. Brees also extended his streak of consecutive home games with at least one touchdown pass to 57. Brees also has passed for more than 25,000 yards in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints entered the game with six starters on the inactive list including safety Kenny Vaccaro, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and starting left tackle Terron Armstead.
After the national anthem was played the teams met at midfield in a unity circle of players and coaches.
Saints stat leaders:
Brees, 15 of 26 for 121 yards and two TDs
Running back Mark Ingram, eight carries for 49 yards
Receiver Brandon Coleman, four catches for 49 yards
Falcons stat leaders:
Matt Ryan, 15 of 20 for 137 yards and 2 TDs
Running back Devonta Freeman, seven carries for 61 yards
Receiver Mohamed Sanu, three catches for 31 yards