Belichick wishes Fairbanks the best in Friday surgery

827437.jpg

Belichick wishes Fairbanks the best in Friday surgery

FOXBORO -- Patriots coach Bill Belichick opened Friday's press conference with news that former New England coach Chuck Fairbanks will be undergoing surgery today. He extended his well-wishes to Fairbanks and his family.

"On behalf to the team, players, and myself, I want to pass along our best wishes to Chuck Fairbanks. Chuck's heading in to some surgery today, and i just wanted to pass along our best wishes to Chuck and his family.

"Chuck's been a good friend for a long time. And he's meant a lot to this organization. At the time he came here, he did a great job in turning the Patriots around, making them one of the top teams in the AFC. And also, some of the things that he brought to the Patriots and the league in the 70's, were things that stood the test of time and have been a big principle of this league for many, many years . . . such as the 3-4 defense, the way he organized the draft, personnel meetings, things like that."

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

falcons_devonta_freeman_092616.jpg

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

NEW ORLEANS - Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn't be denied near the goal line and the New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.

Cheers turned to boos, and many fans filed out early.

Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help the Atlanta Falcons beat the winless New Orleans Saints 45-32 on Monday night.

"It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other," Coleman said. "Everything clicked, and we got it done. It's a real big win for us to beat this team here."

The game coincided with New Orleans' celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints' memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina. But there would be no reprise of New Orleans' dominant and emotional 23-3 triumph over Atlanta a decade ago.

The Saints' depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards. Coleman also was effective in the passing game out of the backfield, with three receptions for 47 yards to go with his 42 yards rushing.

"We have to stop the run better," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game."

Ryan finished with 240 yards passing for Atlanta (2-1), which did not turn the ball over and moved into sole possession of first place in the NFC South.

Drew Brees put up his usual big numbers - 376 yards and three TDs passing - and hit tight end Coby Fleener seven times for 109 yards and a TD. But Brees' tipped pass that resulted in Jones' TD return early in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 45-25 lead that proved too much for New Orleans to overcome.