The New Orleans Saints took a 17-3 halftime lead over division rival Atlanta on Thursday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints scored first on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Drew Brees to receiver Tommylee Lewis, who was playing for the first time since being activated from Injured Reserve. New Orleans added a 22-yard field from Wil Lutz after another drive stalled in the red zone before Austin Carr capped the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown reception with 3:20 left in the half. It was the second consecutive game Carr has caught a touchdown pass.
The Saints defense harassed Atalnta quarterback Matt Ryan for most of the half, sacking him four times, including a strip-sack-recovery by safety Marcus Williams that ended a Falcons drive at the 13-yard line. Demario Davis, Sheldon Rankins and Cam Jordan had the other sacks for the Saints. The Saints forced a Julio Jones fumble with 17 seconds left that safety Vonn Bell recovered to end an Atlanta drive. Linebacker Alex Anzalone forced the fumble.
Atlanta scored on a 32-yard Matt Bryant field goal following an interception by Damontae Kazee of a Brees pass. It looked like receiver Keith Kirkwood was interfered with on the play but there was no flag. It was Brees' second interception of the season.
Thursday's game was the 185th together for Brees and Coach Sean Payton, moving them past the Don Shula-Dam Marino combination for second all time.
Key Saints stat leaders
Drew Brees, 10 of 14 for 108 yards with two TDs and one interception
Alvin Kamara, eight carries for 64 yards
Mark Ingram, eight carries for 38 yards
Michael Thomas, four catches for 38 yards
Time of possession: 17:27
Third down: 4 of 6