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Falcons–Saints rivalry

Atlanta Falcons–New Orleans Saints
Teams Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints
First contested November 20, 1967
NO 27, ATL 24
Most recent meeting December 21, 2014 ATL 30 NO 14
Next meeting October 15, 2015 in New Orleans
Number of meetings 92 meetings
All-time series ATL 49–43
Postseason results

ATL: 1–0

  • December 28, 1991, Wild Card, Atlanta 27–20
Largest victory ATL: 62–7 (9/16/1973)
Longest win streak

ATL: 10 (September 15, 1995 - December 5, 1999)

NO: 6 (December 14, 1986 - November 19, 1989)
Current win streak ATL 2
Championship Success

Super Bowl Championships (1)

Super Bowl Appearances (2)

  • ATL (1) – 1998
  • NO (1) – 2009

Conference Championships (2)

Division Championships (10)

Wild Card Berths (12) (1970—present)

The FalconsSaints rivalry is a divisional rivalry in the NFC South of the National Football League. The series is by far the oldest and most established rivalry in the division. Born one year apart, the Saints and Falcons were the first two NFL franchises in the Deep South (Washington and Dallas being arguably southern but not in the "traditional" Deep South). They have shared some important players, such as kicker Morten Andersen (the leading scorer in both franchises' histories), Bobby Hebert (who quarterbacked for both teams in the 1990s), and Joe Horn (the Pro Bowl Saints receiver who left for the Falcons in 2007). They have also drawn coaches from the same families, and even shared a head coach: recent Falcons coach Jim L. Mora is the son of longtime Saints coach Jim E. Mora, and former Falcons and Saints coach Wade Phillips is the son of former Saints coach Bum Phillips.

The series was rarely noted by the national media prior to the 2006 NFL season, due to both teams' long stretches of futility. However, the September 2006 match-up, which served as the Louisiana Superdome's official reopening after Hurricane Katrina, was heralded as a major milestone in New Orleans' and the Gulf Coast's recovery from the effects of the storm as well as the Saints' return to the city after their own year-long exile after the storm; the Saints later erected a statue outside the Superdome to commemorate their win in that game.

The late season match-ups in the 2010 and 2011 seasons held playoff implications for both teams. Games between the Falcons and Saints have riveted their respective regions for more than 40 years; fans of both teams consider the other their most important and hated opponent. writer Len Pasquarelli has cited the rivalry as one of the best in sports: "Every year, bus caravans loaded with rowdy (and usually very inebriated) fans make the seven-hour trip between the two cities. Unless you've attended a Falcons-Saints debauchery-filled afternoon, you'll just have to take my word for how much fun it really can be."[1]

Atlanta currently leads the all-time series 49-43 (48-43 regular season, 1-0 playoffs). Since Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints have dominated the series winning 13 of the last 17 matchups. Each team has appeared in one Super Bowl, the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV while the Falcons lost in Super Bowl XXXIII.

It began in 1967, the first year of play for the Saints, and press accounts from that game, including the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune and Los Angeles Times, referred to it as the "Dixie Championship." In recent years, the game has sometimes been referred to as the "Southern Showdown." This has especially been the case leading up to the first of the two 2011 games, by WWL radio in New Orleans.


Notable games in the series

  • The first time that the Saints made an appearance in the city of New Orleans was on September 9, 1967, in a pre-season game against Atlanta; the Saints won, 27–14. The two teams continued to play yearly in the pre-season until they became divisional opponents. A notable exception was on August 11, 1984, when the Saints took a 31–21 victory in New Orleans.
  • The rivalry first truly began to heat up when the two teams became divisional opponents in 1970, allowing them to play twice per season. Despite being located east of the Mississippi River, both relatively new expansion teams were placed in the National Football Conference's Western Division that year – a tough division that would often leave the two teams battling it out with each other just to stay out of last place. Atlanta's 62-7 victory at Tulane Stadium in 1973 remains the most lopsided loss in Saints history. (Coincidentally, the Saints were involved in the only other 62-7 final in an NFL regular season game, crushing the Indianapolis Colts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 23, 2011.[2])
  • Three consecutive improbable[citation needed] last-minute wins by Atlanta in 1978 and 1979 further fueled the rivalry, with the frustrated[citation needed] Saints finally avenging in the second game of 1979 with a 37-6 rout in Atlanta.
  • The only postseason meeting to date in the Falcons–Saints rivalry was played in the Wild Card playoff round on December 28, 1991, at the Superdome. The Saints entered the 1991 playoffs as the NFC West champions while the Falcons were a Wild Card team. Atlanta won the game on the road, 27-20, as Falcons quarterback Chris Miller threw the game-winning 61-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Haynes with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter.
  • In the midst of New Orleans' troubled 2005 season in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they suffered a loss at San Antonio to the Falcons on October 16. The Saints raced to a 10-3 lead in the second quarter before a fumble was returned by DeAngelo Hall of the Falcons for a 66-yard touchdown and a tie game. On the final play of the second quarter, the Falcons blocked a field goal try and Demorrio Williams ran back a 59-yard touchdown. An exchange of six touchdowns ensued and Devery Henderson caught a 15-yard game-tying score, leaving the game 31-31 in the final minute of regulation. A penalty on the Saints helped the Falcons set up Todd Peterson's 36-yard field goal on the final play, ending a 34-31 Falcons win. Saints coach Jim Haslett was so angry over the late penalty that he repeatedly ripped the "chickenshit" calls by the referees.[citation needed]
  • The Falcons were the opponent in the Saints' first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, held on September 25, 2006. The Saints won the nationally televised match 23–3; the game was the highest-rated program in the history of ESPN and the second-highest-rated cable program of all time. Early in the first quarter, Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt by Falcons kicker Michael Koenen and Curtis Deloatch recovered the ball in the Falcons' end zone for a Saints touchdown. It was the first score in the Saints' first game in New Orleans in nearly 21 months, during which time Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city and the team. The Saints dominated the game and went on to have the most successful season in their history up to that time. In July 2012, "Rebirth", a statue depicting Gleason blocking the punt, was erected outside the Superdome; a news report commented that the blocked punt "etched Steve Gleason into Saints lore and became symbolic of New Orleans' resilience in the face of disaster".[3]
  • The Falcons hosted the Saints on November 26, 2006, at the Georgia Dome. Michael Vick rushed for 166 yards but threw for only 84 yards while Drew Brees of the Saints threw for 349 yards (a week after a 510-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bengals), including a 48-yard heave to Terrance Copper caught in heavy traffic in the Falcons end zone for a Saints touchdown. The Saints routed the Falcons 31–13, and after the game, Vick flashed an obscene gesture to booing Falcons fans.
  • The Saints were on a quest for an undefeated season in 2009 when, on November 2, they hosted the Falcons on Monday Night Football. Atlanta led 14-7 after one quarter; New Orleans then erupted with 21 second-quarter points and held off a late Atlanta comeback effort when a Darren Sharper intercepted a Matt Ryan pass at the Saints 5, ending a 35-27 Saints win. The win raised New Orleans to a 13-0 record; the Saints then dropped their last 3 regular season games before sweeping through the playoffs on their way to winning the Super Bowl.
  • In the 2010 season, both games had important implications for the playoff race. The Falcons won a week 3 matchup at the Superdome 27-24 in overtime (after Saints kicker Garrett Hartley made a last-second field goal to tie the game in regulation, but then missed another kick that would have won it in overtime). The win gave Atlanta an advantage in the standings which Falcons retained all season. In the Week 16 rematch, the teams met for the fifth time in six seasons on Monday Night Football, with the NFC South title still on the line; in a typically close game the Saints held on for a 17-14 win, clinching a playoff berth. (The Falcons won the following week to earn the top seed in the NFC; both teams then were then upset in their opening playoff games, New Orleans losing to the underdog Seattle Seahawks 41-36 in the wild-card round, while Atlanta was routed by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers in the divisional round 48-21.)
  • In the 2011 season, both teams met again for a Monday Night Football matchup. Like the previous season, playoff implications were at stake for both teams, however, in a near-inverse of the 2010 meeting, New Orleans, entered Week 16 with an 11-3 record with a playoff berth already clinched, were in better position to win the NFC South division title, and needed a win in one of their final two games or an Atlanta loss in one of their final two games to clinch the division title, while Atlanta, entering Week 16 with a 9-5 record, needed to win out as well as for New Orleans to lose against Carolina in Week 17 to repeat as NFC South champions. A major historical aspect of this game was Saint Drew Brees' pursuit of Dan Marino's single season record for passing yards, 5084, set in 1984. Entering the game with 4780 yards, Brees needed only 305 in his final two games to obtain the record. Atlanta received the opening kickoff and quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead but the Saints immediately responded with an 84-yard touchdown drive sparked by Brees' 38-yard completion to Lance Moore on the drive's first play. Brees would end the first quarter with 66 yards. By halftime, Brees was within 75 yards of the record with 230 yards in the first half, thanks in large part to the 164 yards he notched in the second quarter, which lifted the Saints to a 21-10 lead. Despite only having 45 yards in the third quarter, Brees managed to help the Saints extend their lead to 31-13 and he entered the fourth quarter 30 yards shy of Marino's record. The fourth quarter was somewhat atypical of how the Saints had played during the first three quarters in that they punted for the first time in the game and were held to a three-and-out for the third straight possession dating back to the third quarter when they had to settle for a field goal after failing to get a first down following Darren Sproles' 92-yard kickoff return which set them up with excellent field position at the Atlanta 14-yard line. Continuing the breaking of trends was the Saints' defense, which came into the game having forced the fewest turnovers of any defense in the league. That improved when linebacker Scott Shanle stripped the football from Falcons' wide receiver Julio Jones at the Falcons' 35-yard line and Saints' free safety Malcolm Jenkins grabbed the ball bouncing off the turf in stride and ran 30 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, extending the lead to 38-16. With zero completions or yards through the Saints' first two fourth-quarter possessions, it appeared uncertain if Brees would be able to get the record in front of a national audience in prime time but after the Saints' defense succeeded in stopping the Falcons on fourth down for the second straight possession and having taken over at the Falcons' 32-yard line with Brees needing just 30 for the record, the stage was set for history. On the ensuing drive, Brees completed a 12-yard pass to Marques Colston and an 11-yarder to Devery Henderson, coming to within 7 yards of the record. After an incomplete pass on first and goal from the Falcons' 9-yard line, Brees connected with running back Darren Sproles at the 1-yard line by the left hash mark and he carried it into the end zone, completing the quest for the record with Brees at 5087 yards through 15 games and capping off the scoring for the game with the Saints winning 45–16 and clinching the NFC South division title, their third since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006 and fifth in franchise history. Brees ended the night completing 23 of his 39 passing attempts for 307 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions; it was also his 12th game of the season with at least 300 yards passing, an NFL record.
  • In 2012, the Saints struggled through a down year after incurring heavy league penalties from their bounty scandal, but the Saints still managed to hand the Falcons their first loss of the season, 31–27 at the Superdome in week 10. Three weeks later, airport workers in Atlanta egged the Saints' charter bus when the Saints arrived in Atlanta for their game against the Falcons. Drew Brees threw 5 interceptions and his record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass was snapped as the Falcons controlled the rematch 23-13.[4] (The Falcons went on to earn the top seed in the NFC for the second time in three years.)
  • In 2013, the teams met in a highly promoted[citation needed] opening-week match-up. The Saints held off a last-second Atlanta drive to win 23–17, then went on to win their first five games while the Falcons, hampered by injuries, unexpectedly[citation needed] suffered through a loss-filled campaign. In the rematch, a Thursday night prime-time game, the Saints again held on to win another narrow victory, 17–13, marked by Brees moving past Warren Moon into fifth place on the all-time career passing list.

Individual game results

This is a list of results from all of the meetings between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons from their first meeting in 1967 to the present.

Saints victory Falcons victory * Post-season meeting
Date Site Winning team Losing team Series
November 20, 1967 New Orleans New Orleans 27 Atlanta 24 NO 1-0
December 7, 1969 Atlanta Atlanta 45 New Orleans 17 Tied 1-1
September 20, 1970 New Orleans Atlanta 14 New Orleans 3 ATL 2-1
October 25, 1970 Atlanta Atlanta 32 New Orleans 14 ATL 3-1
October 24, 1971 Atlanta Atlanta 28 New Orleans 6 ATL 4-1
December 19, 1971 New Orleans Atlanta 24 New Orleans 20 ATL 5-1
October 15, 1972 New Orleans Atlanta 21 New Orleans 14 ATL 6-1
November 12, 1972 Atlanta Atlanta 36 New Orleans 20 ATL 7-1
September 16, 1973 New Orleans Atlanta 62 New Orleans 7 ATL 8-1
December 16, 1973 Atlanta Atlanta 14 New Orleans 10 ATL 9-1
September 29, 1974 New Orleans New Orleans 14 Atlanta 13 ATL 9-2
October 20, 1974 Atlanta New Orleans 13 Atlanta 3 ATL 9-3
October 5, 1975 Atlanta Atlanta 14 New Orleans 7 ATL 10-3
November 2, 1975 New Orleans New Orleans 23 Atlanta 7 ATL 10-4
October 10, 1976 New Orleans New Orleans 30 Atlanta 0 ATL 10-5
October 31, 1976 Atlanta Atlanta 23 New Orleans 20 ATL 11-5
November 20, 1977 New Orleans New Orleans 21 Atlanta 20 ATL 11-6
December 18, 1977 Atlanta Atlanta 35 New Orleans 7 ATL 12-6
November 12, 1978 Atlanta Atlanta 20 New Orleans 17 ATL 13-6
November 26, 1978 New Orleans Atlanta 20 New Orleans 17 ATL 14-6
September 2, 1979 New Orleans Atlanta 40 New Orleans 34 ATL 15-6
November 25, 1979 Atlanta New Orleans 37 Atlanta 6 ATL 15-7
October 19, 1980 New Orleans Atlanta 41 New Orleans 14 ATL 16-7
November 16, 1980 Atlanta Atlanta 31 New Orleans 13 ATL 17-7
September 6, 1981 Atlanta Atlanta 27 New Orleans 0 ATL 18-7
November 1, 1981 New Orleans Atlanta 41 New Orleans 10 ATL 19-7
December 12, 1982 Atlanta Atlanta 35 New Orleans 0 ATL 20-7
January 2, 1983 New Orleans New Orleans 35 Atlanta 6 ATL 20-8
October 9, 1983 Atlanta New Orleans 19 Atlanta 17 ATL 20-9
November 6, 1983 New Orleans New Orleans 27 Atlanta 10 ATL 20-10
September 2, 1984 New Orleans Atlanta 36 New Orleans 28 ATL 21-10
November 11, 1984 Atlanta New Orleans 17 Atlanta 13 ATL 21-11
October 20, 1985 Atlanta Atlanta 31 New Orleans 24 ATL 22-11
December 22, 1985 New Orleans Atlanta 16 New Orleans 10 ATL 23-11
September 7, 1986 New Orleans Atlanta 31 New Orleans 10 ATL 24-11
December 14, 1986 Atlanta New Orleans 14 Atlanta 9 ATL 24-12
November 1, 1987 Atlanta New Orleans 38 Atlanta 0 ATL 24-13
September 11, 1988 Atlanta New Orleans 29 Atlanta 21 ATL 24-14
December 18, 1988 New Orleans New Orleans 10 Atlanta 9 ATL 24-15
October 29, 1989 New Orleans New Orleans 20 Atlanta 13 ATL 24-16
November 19, 1989 Atlanta New Orleans 26 Atlanta 17 ATL 24-17
October 7, 1990 Atlanta Atlanta 28 New Orleans 27 ATL 25-17
November 25, 1990 New Orleans New Orleans 10 Atlanta 7 ATL 25-18
September 29, 1991 Atlanta New Orleans 27 Atlanta 6 ATL 25-19
November 24, 1991 New Orleans Atlanta 23 New Orleans 20 ATL 26-19
December 28, 1991* New Orleans Atlanta 27 New Orleans 20 ATL 27-19
September 20, 1992 Atlanta New Orleans 10 Atlanta 7 ATL 27-20
December 3, 1992 New Orleans New Orleans 22 Atlanta 14 ATL 27-21
September 12, 1993 Atlanta New Orleans 34 Atlanta 31 ATL 27-22
October 24, 1993 New Orleans Atlanta 26 New Orleans 15 ATL 28-22
November 13, 1994 New Orleans New Orleans 33 Atlanta 32 ATL 28-23
December 11, 1994 Atlanta New Orleans 29 Atlanta 20 ATL 28-24
September 15, 1995 New Orleans Atlanta 27 New Orleans 24 ATL 29-24
December 10, 1995 Atlanta Atlanta 19 New Orleans 14 ATL 30-24
September 22, 1996 New Orleans Atlanta 28 New Orleans 14 ATL 31-24
November 17, 1996 Atlanta Atlanta 17 New Orleans 15 ATL 32-24
October 12, 1997 New Orleans Atlanta 23 New Orleans 17 ATL 33-24
November 23, 1997 Atlanta Atlanta 20 New Orleans 3 ATL 34-24
October 18, 1998 Atlanta Atlanta 31 New Orleans 23 ATL 35-24
December 13, 1998 New Orleans Atlanta 27 New Orleans 17 ATL 36-24
October 10, 1999 New Orleans Atlanta 20 New Orleans 17 ATL 37-24
December 5, 1999 Atlanta Atlanta 35 New Orleans 12 ATL 38-24
October 22, 2000 Atlanta New Orleans 21 Atlanta 19 ATL 38-25
December 27, 2000 New Orleans New Orleans 23 Atlanta 7 ATL 38-26
October 21, 2001 New Orleans Atlanta 20 New Orleans 13 ATL 39-26
December 9, 2001 Atlanta New Orleans 28 Atlanta 10 ATL 39-27
October 27, 2002 New Orleans Atlanta 37 New Orleans 35 ATL 40-27
November 17, 2002 Atlanta Atlanta 24 New Orleans 21 ATL 41-27
October 19, 2003 Atlanta New Orleans 45 Atlanta 17 ATL 41-28
November 16, 2003 New Orleans New Orleans 23 Atlanta 20 ATL 41-29
November 28, 2004 Atlanta Atlanta 24 New Orleans 21 ATL 42-29
December 26, 2004 New Orleans New Orleans 26 Atlanta 13 ATL 42-30
October 16, 2005 San Antonio Atlanta 34 New Orleans 31 ATL 43-30
December 12, 2005 Atlanta Atlanta 36 New Orleans 17 ATL 44-30
September 25, 2006 New Orleans New Orleans 23 Atlanta 3 ATL 44-31
November 26, 2006 Atlanta New Orleans 31 Atlanta 13 ATL 44-32
October 21, 2007 New Orleans New Orleans 22 Atlanta 16 ATL 44-33
December 10, 2007 Atlanta New Orleans 34 Atlanta 14 ATL 44-34
November 9, 2008 Atlanta Atlanta 34 New Orleans 20 ATL 45-34
December 7, 2008 New Orleans New Orleans 29 Atlanta 25 ATL 45-35
November 2, 2009 New Orleans New Orleans 35 Atlanta 27 ATL 45-36
December 14, 2009 Atlanta New Orleans 26 Atlanta 23 ATL 45-37
September 26, 2010 New Orleans Atlanta 27 New Orleans 24 ATL 46-37
December 27, 2010 Atlanta New Orleans 17 Atlanta 14 ATL 46-38
November 13, 2011 Atlanta New Orleans 26 Atlanta 23 ATL 46-39
December 26, 2011 New Orleans New Orleans 45 Atlanta 16 ATL 46-40
November 11, 2012 New Orleans New Orleans 31 Atlanta 27 ATL 46-41
November 29, 2012 Atlanta Atlanta 23 New Orleans 13 ATL 47-41
September 8, 2013 New Orleans New Orleans 23 Atlanta 17 ATL 47-42
November 21, 2013 Atlanta New Orleans 17 Atlanta 13 ATL 47-43
September 7, 2014 Atlanta Atlanta 37 New Orleans 34 ATL 48-43
December 21, 2014 New Orleans Atlanta 30 New Orleans 14 ATL 49-43

Pre-season games

The Saints hold a 3-1 edge in pre-season games against the Falcons, including a victory on September 9, 1967 when the Saints played in the city of New Orleans for the very first time. The home teams have always won the pre-season games in this series.

Year Winner Result Location
1967 New Orleans Saints 27-14 New Orleans
1968 Atlanta Falcons 16-10 Atlanta
1969 New Orleans Saints 21-17 New Orleans
1984 New Orleans Saints 31-21 New Orleans

Overtime games

The Falcons hold a 5-2 lead in overtime games in this series.

Year Winner Result Location
1979 Atlanta Falcons 40-34 New Orleans
1991 Atlanta Falcons 23-20 New Orleans
1995 Atlanta Falcons 27-24 New Orleans
2003 New Orleans Saints 23-20 New Orleans
2010 Atlanta Falcons 27-24 New Orleans
2011 New Orleans Saints 26-23 Atlanta
2014 Atlanta Falcons 37-34 Atlanta

Monday Night Football

The Saints and Falcons have met six times on Monday Night Football, most recently in 2011. The series has been played three times in Atlanta and three times in New Orleans, and overall the Saints lead 5–1.

The 2006 matchup, the first game played in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, was the second highest rated cable television broadcast of all time, a mark that has since been surpassed. The 2010 matchup averaged 19.1 million viewers on ESPN, making it the most watched cable broadcast of 2010.[5]

Year Winner Result Location
2005 Atlanta Falcons 36-17 Atlanta
2006 New Orleans Saints 23-3 New Orleans
2007 New Orleans Saints 34-14 Atlanta
2009 New Orleans Saints 35-27 New Orleans
2010 New Orleans Saints 17-14 Atlanta
2011 New Orleans Saints 45-16 New Orleans

Thursday Night Football

Atlanta and New Orleans played on Thursday, December 3, 1992, with the Saints winning 22-14 in a game broadcast on ESPN. Since the NFL Network began its Thursday Night Football package, the teams have met twice: in 2012, the Falcons won their Week 13 matchup 23-13 in the Georgia Dome. In week 12 of the 2013 season, the teams met again on Thursday night in the Georgia Dome, but this time the Saints won 17-13.