THIS WEEK: The Saints (10-4) will attempt to punch their playoff ticket and keep alive in the NFC South divisional race, when they travel to the Atlanta Falcons (12-2) on Monday, Dec. 27 for a nationally televised Monday Night Football contest. Kickoff is 7:30 CT.
TELEVISION: The game will be televised nationally on ESPN. Mike Tirico will handle play-by-play, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski will serve as color analysts and Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya will be on the sidelines. The game will also air in the New Orleans area on WDSU-6.
RADIO: Jim Henderson and Hokie Gajan will call the game on the Saints Radio Network with Kristian Garic on the Saints sidelines. The game will air live on Saints Radio Network originating on WWL 105.3 FM and 870 AM, with pre and post-game analysis. The radio pregame and postgame shows will feature former Saints Steve Korte and Bobby Hebert as well as host Deke Bellavia.
SPANISH RADIO: Saints 2010 games air in Spanish on radio station La Fabulosa, WFNO 830 AM. Emilio Peralta and Marco Garcia handle announcing duties.
SERIES: Atlanta leads the series, 45-37, with New Orleans holding a 7-2 advantage over the Falcons since Sean Payton has been head coach. The Saints have won three of the last four contests played in the Georgia Dome
The series has been defined by hard-fought contests and lengthy periods of dominance for both clubs. Since 1991, 23 games have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Falcons had a ten-game winning streak from 1995-99, which remains the Saints' longest winless streak against an opponent. New Orleans took 13 of 16 in the rivalry from 1986-94 and Atlanta won nine-straight over the fledgling Saints from 1969-73. Atlanta's mastery ended with a 21-19 win for New Orleans at the Georgia Dome on Nov. 22, 2000. Five games in the series have gone into overtime, including this season's September 26 27-24 Falcons victory at the Louisiana Superdome. In games held at the Georgia Dome, the series is tied 9-9.
LAST MEETING: Atlanta Falcons 27, Saints 24 (OT); September 26, 2010 @ Louisiana Superdome – Atlanta K Matt Bryant kicked a 46-yard field goal with 1:55 left in overtime to give the Falcons a 27-24 win.
The Saints overcame three turnovers and a three-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the score on their final drive of regulation when K Garrett Hartley kicked a 32-yard field goal.
However, in overtime, after the Saints defense stymied Atlanta's first drive, Hartley missed a 29-yard attempt and the Falcons would successfully execute their next time down the field.
QB Drew Brees completed 30 of 38 passes for 365 yards with three TD passes, two to WR Lance Moore and two interceptions. Moore had a career day with six receptions for a career-high 149 yards, tying his best in TD grabs and adding a career-long 72-yard punt return to set up a first quarter scoring throw from Brees to TE Jeremy Shockey. Shockey led the Saints in receptions with eight catches for 78 yards.
DE Will Smith and DT Sedrick Ellis recorded one sack apiece. LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar led New Orleans with a career-high 13 tackles.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan completed 19 of 30 passes for 228 yards with two TDs. TE Tony Gonzalez had eight receptions for 110 yards with one TD, while RB Michael Turner carried 30 times for 114 yards with a TD.
CONNECTIONS:Secondary coach Dennis Allen, defensive line coach Bill Johnson and quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi served on the Falcons coaching staff…Atlanta C Todd McClure is a Baton Rouge native and played at LSU...T Jon Stinchcomb prepped at Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) High School and was a four-year starter at Georgia from 1999-2003...Falcons offensive line coach Paul Boudreau served in the same position in New Orleans from 1987-93...Atlanta wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie is an Edgard native who starred at LSU...Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo is a New Iberia native who served as head coach at Tulane University from 1998-2006…LS Justin Drescher spent part of the 2010 offseason with the Falcons. DL Anthony Hargrove played for Georgia Tech from 2001-03...LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Atlanta QB Matt Ryan were teammates at Boston College...QB Drew Brees and Falcons RB Michael Turner were teammates in San Diego from 2004-07...T Charles Brown, RB Reggie Bush, DT Sedrick Ellis and Atlanta T Sam Baker were teammates at USC...DE Alex Brown and Atlanta LB Mike Peterson were teammates at Florida...Head coach Sean Payton, assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt and Falcons assistant head coach/quarterbacks Bill Musgrave served on the same staff in Philadelphia in 1998. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and Musgrave served on the same staff in Washington in 2005...LB Jonathan Vilma and Atlanta S Erik Coleman were teammates with the New York Jets...Assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones is a native of Irwinton, Ga., who played at Georgia from 1990-94 and served on their staff from 1997-98. Jones, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and linebackers coach Glenn Pires served on the same staff in Miami from 2006-07. CB Jabari Greer played for Mularkey when he served as head coach in Buffalo from 2004-05...CB Tracy Porter was tutored on special teams by Falcons running backs coach Gerald Brown at Indiana from 2006-07...Falcons defensive backs coach Alvin Reynolds prepped at West Jefferson High School.
NEXT WEEK: The Saints will close out their 2010 regular season with another divisional contest when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Superdome. Kickoff is currently scheduled for noon (CT).