The New Orleans Saints have won plenty of games with their dazzling offense.
The defense is doing its part, too.
Drew Brees threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first half and the guys on the other side made sure that was enough, sending the visiting Saints to a 17-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.
“We’re rolling and we can’t stop,” said Cameron Jordan, who led the way as New Orleans sacked Atlanta’s Matt Ryan five times. “We’ve got to get better.”
Brees threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham and a 1-yarder to Benjamin Waton, giving the first-place Saints (9-2) a sweep of the season series with their NFC South rivals.
Atlanta (2-9) dropped its fifth straight game, clinched its first losing season since 2007 and was officially eliminated from the division race with five weeks left.
The Falcons had a chance to pull off the upset, driving to the Saints 29 with less than 3 minutes to go. But New Orleans turned up the pressure on Ryan, Atlanta missed a long field goal, and the Saints ran off all but the last 5 seconds of the game.
The Georgia Dome rocked with chants of “Who Dat! Who Dat!” as the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Saints ensuring they will remain alone atop the NFC South and just one game behind Seattle for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. New Orleans will face the Seahawks in Seattle on Dec. 2 in what shapes up as one of the biggest games of the year.
The Falcons had hoped to salvage a bit of pride in this lost season, driving from their own 9 – actually, the 3 after Ryan was sacked – to the Saints 29. But Ryan was sacked again by Jordan and hurried into a pair of incompletions. As the crowd groaned, the Falcons surprisingly sent on Matt Bryant to attempt a 52-yard field goal.
He knocked one through, but the Saints called timeout just before the snap. His next try sailed wide of the left upright.
Brees and the offense took it from there, assuring Atlanta had time for only one desperate play at the end.
Brees was 23 of 33 for 278 yards. Ryan was 30 of 39 for 297 yards, but Atlanta’s offense produced only one touchdown.
Incognito agrees to postpone hearing
Richie Incognito has agreed to postpone his grievance hearing, which was scheduled to begin Thursday, challenging his suspension by the Dolphins until the NFL completes its investigation into the team’s bullying scandal.
In a statement, Incognito said he will cooperate fully in the investigation with a goal of resuming his career with Miami. He said he hoped to put the distraction in the past soon.
Tackle Jonathan Martin alleges he was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito. Martin left the team Oct. 28, and Incognito was suspended Nov. 3.
Around the league
Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson says he plans on playing against Green Bay on Sunday despite a sore groin that has taken away some of his explosiveness. … Denver WR Wes Welker returned to practice for the first time since leaving Sunday’s game against Kansas City with a concussion. Also back was TE Julius Thomas (right knee). Both were limited as the Broncos practiced in snowy, 20-degree weather to prepare for Sunday’s game at chilly New England.