Brees shakes off INTs, leads Saints to 17-14 win
ATLANTA: Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints showed the high-flying Atlanta Falcons they're not ready to give up their crown just yet.
That's right, Who Dat going back to the playoffs: The reigning Super Bowl champs.
Facing a team that had won eight in a row and was poised to lock up the division title and home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, New Orleans rallied for a 17-14 victory over the Falcons Monday night to clinched a return to the postseason.
Atlanta (12-3) couldn't take advantage of the national stage to silence all those skeptics who wondered if the team with the NFC's best record is really its best team.
Despite throwing a pair of costly fourth-quarter interceptions, Brees through when it counted.
The reigning Super Bowl MVP led a 90-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Jimmy Graham with 3:24 remaining. The Saints (11-4) sent a clear message to a team they might see again in January.
"It feels good," Brees said. "You just want to punch your ticket to the big show, and we've done that. Obviously Carolina needs to beat Atlanta next week so we can get that one seed."
The Saints proved that Atlanta is not invincible, even playing at the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons had a 19-3 record in Mike Smith's three years as coach.
"We don't want to feel this way the rest of the season," said Matt Ryan, who lost at home for only the second time as the Falcons' starting quarterback. "We're going to work hard to make sure we don't." The loss doesn't ruin Atlanta's two main goals. The Falcons can still wrap up their first division crown since 2004 and home field through the NFC playoffs by knocking off twowin Carolina at home in the final week of season. -Reuters