Saints shackle Falcons to maintain edge over Panthers
(Reuters) - The New Orleans Saints ground out a vital 17-13 win over the struggling Atlanta Falcons on Thursday to maintain their division lead over a surging Carolina Panthers.
The Saints were far from their best in the road game but improved to 9-2 on the season with their third straight win while the Falcons slumped to 2-9 following a fifth consecutive loss.
After leading by a single point at halftime, a Garrett Hartley field goal supplied the only score of a grinding second half for the visitors.
Falcons wide receiver Darius Johnson fumbled early in the fourth quarter while in a scoring position, coughing up a key turnover in the home side's quest for an upset victory.
New Orleans remains top of the NFC South division with the Panthers (7-3) in the midst of a six-game winning run and a game in hand against Miami on Sunday.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 23-of-33 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns while tight-end James Graham had a 100-yard receiving game from just five receptions.
"We knew what type of game it was going to be. I guess nine of our last 12 games with these guys have gone down to the last possession and it did again today," Brees told reporters.
"They are a great football team despite what their record might say and we knew that.
"Obviously, any time you go on the road in your division it is hard to get a win so we battled on both sides of the ball, played very well, gritted it out and got the win." Continued...