On day he sets NFL career completions mark, Saints’ Drew Brees beats Falcons on QB sneak

September 24, 2018

It felt like the team that had the ball last would win, and the New Orleans Saints did just that, besting the Atlanta Falcons late in an overtime thriller, 43-37.

Drew Brees, who bypassed Brett Favre for the NFL career completions record (6,301 and counting), won it for the Saints on a QB sneak, one of his two rushing touchdowns and five combined scores on the day. Matt Ryan was also brilliant, tossing five scores — including three to first-round WR Calvin Ridley — but the Saints engineered a seven-plus minute TD drive in overtime after stopping Atlanta for the win.

There was very little defense to discuss in a game in which the Saints and Falcons combined for 941 yards and eight lead changes. In fact, it was the Saints arguably overcoming the biggest defensive gaffes, including a horrible unnecessary roughness penalty by David Onyemata late in the fourth quarter that wiped out a Matt Bryant field goal and gifted Atlanta four additional points.

Still, Brees wouldn’t be denied on a record-setting day for the Saints offense. He drove New Orleans 81 yards, capped by a seven-yard rushing touchdown that included two broken tackles, following Onyemata’s penalty for contacting the center on the field goal.

In addition to Brees’ 39-of-49, 396-yard outing, Michael Thomas set the new league record for most catches through three games with 36, part of his 10-129 receiving day. And Alvin Kamara turned a career-high 31 touches into 190 yards from scrimmage, another personal best, in the penultimate game of Mark Ingram’s four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension.

Both teams’ defenses played like they’ll need offense to bail them out routinely this season. Dennis Allen’s Saints secondary was just destroyed downfield repeatedly by Ridley and Julio Jones, in addition to absorbing many of the team’s 11 penalties for 120 yards.

The Falcons, who obviously had no answers for Brees, Kamara and Thomas, also potentially suffered another key loss, as S Ricardo Allen went down in overtime with a left leg injury. Atlanta is already without starting SS Keanu Neal, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, and MLB Deion Jones, who’s on injured reserve with a shot at returning later this season.

The Saints improve to 2-1 and move into a second-place tie with the Carolina Panthers, who held off the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Falcons, seemingly as soon as they’ve figured out their red-zone woes (9 for their past 9) and unlocked their first-rounder in Ridley, reside in the basement of the South with very few defensive answers likely in sight.

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