Falcons move up in NFC West by beating Saints
Late Atlanta pickoff secures victory
ATLANTA – The defending champion Atlanta Falcons showed Thursday night that they aren’t ready to concede the NFC South title just yet.
Linebacker Deion Jones intercepted a Drew Brees pass in the end zone with less than two minutes remaining to preserve a 20-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Matt Bryant provided the winning margin on a 52-yard field goal with just under four minutes as the Falcons (8-5) moved within a game of the Saints (9-4).
After Jones’ interception, the Falcons were able to run out the clock with the help of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Saints coach Sean Payton.
The Falcons won despite three interceptions by Matt Ryan, who finished 15 of 27 for 227 yards and a touchdown.
Brees completed 26 of 35 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns, but threw the costly interception.
Brees had to carry more of the load for the Saints after versatile rookie running back Alvin Kamara suffered a concussion on the game’s first series.
The Falcons forced a tie with just under 10 minutes left on an 8-yard pass from Ryan to Mohamed Sanu that capped a drive of 69 yards taking more than seven minutes.
Ryan, who was picked off by Marshon Lattimore at the end of the first half, had his first pass of the second half intercepted by Chris Banjo and the Saints cashed the turnover in on a 1-yard scoring pass from Brees to Michael Thomas.
Then Ryan was picked off for the third time in four throws when Marcus Williams grabbed a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown in the end zone with Julio Jones well covered.
Dorsey new Browns GM
The Cleveland Browns shook up their front office on Thursday, first firing executive vice president/general manager Sashi Brown, then hiring John Dorsey as the new GM.
Dorsey becomes the ninth general manager since the club was resurrected in 1999. The Browns, however, said they would keep Hue Jackson as their coach for the 2018 season.
Winless thus far this season, the Browns owned a 1-27 mark under the watch of Brown, who was hired to run the front office on Jan. 3, 2016.
Dorsey was fired by the Chiefs in June after a four-season run as general manager. He previously worked in the front offices of the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Shazier has surgery
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday night on the heels of the injury he sustained earlier in the week, the team announced Thursday.
The team initially said that Shazier, 25, would not require surgery.
The Steelers have not released any information about whether Shazier has any movement in his legs, or whether he is expected to make a recovery.
Shazier was transferred from University of Cincinnati Medical Center to Pittsburgh Wednesday.
Moon denies harassment
NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon denied sexual harassment claims made against him in a lawsuit by a California woman who worked at the sports marketing agency he led, according to a statement released by a lawyer representing him.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in California by Moon’s executive assistant at Sports 1 Marketing, alleged that Moon required the plaintiff, Wendy Haskell, to wear thong underwear and sleep in his bed on work trips, among other accusations.
“Warren Moon has yet to be served with the lawsuit filed by Wendy Haskell, but he is aware of the claims contained in it,” attorney David Fears said in a statement.
“Mr. Moon denies the claims by Ms. Haskell. Mr. Moon contends these claims are meritless, and he has every intention to vigorously defend himself in court.”
Falcons receiver Julio Jones breaks the tackle of the Saints’ Vonn Bell in the first quarter. The Falcons posted a 20-17 victory.