The past 10 years have brought us plenty of magical and unforgettable moments between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Since 2006, the Saints have a 15-5 record over the Falcons. In no particular order, we look at ten moments between these two NFC South rivals that summarize the rivalry.
The ‘Rise Up’ kid
Jimmy Graham breaks the Falcons goal post
This Pierre Thomas stiff arm, because PT had his way with the Falcons
Michael Mauti’s recreation of ‘Rebirth’
November 26, 2006 – Saints irritate Michael Vick
Mike Vick probably wants to forget his 2006 games against the New Orleans Saints, which saw the black and gold sweep the Atlanta Falcons. However, it was this contest that particularly frustrated the Falcons quarterback. The Saints dominated in a 31-13 win on the road in the Georgia Dome.
After the game was over, Vick was so flustered that he was caught flipping off Falcons fans while heading to the locker room. How could they not after just throwing for 84 passing yards?
Vick’s 2006 stats against the Saints: 21-of-55 (38 percent), 221 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 8 sacks. He also rushed for 223 yards.
Hey, that’s a “Dirty Bird”.
September 8, 2013 – Sean Payton’s return to the Saints
After his yearlong suspension from the alleged “Bountygate” scandal, the New Orleans Saints were riding a major high entering their season opener with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. Needless to say, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was rocking with noise and emotion as this game came down to the very last second.
The Saints were up 23-17, but the Falcons were driving after starting back on their 20-yard line. Matt Ryan and company kept moving the chains, and suddenly we thought we were going to be very disappointed. Rob Ryan’s defense tightened up in the red zone, and on 4th and Goal from the Saints 3-yard line, Ryan went for tight end Tony Gonzalez, who was a notorious pain in the side.
The crowd erupted, and rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro was able to tip up the pass intended for Gonzalez that was intercepted by safety Roman Harper. The Saints won, and Sean Payton was back.
November 2, 2009 – Darren Sharper seals a Saints victory
In 2009, the Saints were fighting to keep their perfect regular season record intact, but those pesky Falcons weren’t going to just give in so easily on Monday Night Football. Mike Smith’s squad got out to an early 14-7 lead after the first quarter, but the Saints countered hard to eventually go up 35-14.
Matt Ryan led a Falcons comeback to cut the Saints lead to only eight points, and was looking to get his team into the end zone after recovering an onside kick in the game’s final minute. Ryan attempted to go deep, but there was a sea of black and gold waiting with Darren Sharper sealing the victory with just seconds left.
December 26, 2011 – Drew Brees makes history on the big stage
Call it a coincidence, but the Saints and Falcons were set to clash on Monday Night Football once again. Drew Brees entered the contest with 4,780 passing yards, and needed only 305 yards to pass Dan Marino’s NFL record of 5,084 set in 1984. Going into halftime, Brees already had thrown for 230 yards and had the Saints up 21-10.
Despite a slow third quarter, only 30 yards were needed by Brees to make history. The Saints quarterback would ultimately find Darren Sproles on a 2nd and Goal play for a touchdown to put his passing yardage at 5,087. History was made, and the Saints ended up crushing the Falcons 45-16.
September 25, 2006 – “Rebirth”
Hundreds (maybe thousands) of columns and countless documentaries have detailed the impact of this one single play, as Steve Gleason and Curtis DeLoatch stamped their place in Saints history for their roles in ‘Rebirth’. Enough’s been said, so the video (which still gives everyone chills) tells us all we need to know, as it sets the stage.