On further review, Pats-Saints 1st half

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On further review, Pats-Saints 1st half

Impressions from the first half of the Patriots' 7-6 win over the Saints on Thursday night. On Chandler Jones' first pressure during the first drive of the night, he was very late off the snap but still got around Jermon Bushrod to force Drew Brees to throw it away. Devin McCourty was in great downfield position on Brees' long attempt to end the first Saints drive. The only caveat was that he was covering a tight end, Dave Thomas. Rob Gronkowski had an edge block on Stevan Ridley's first sweep that went for 8 yards.

The second-down play, a counter to Danny Woodhead was really well-designed and could have broken long if the pulling Donald Thomas had kicked out the corner and Woodhead had followed him. On the incompletion to Brandon Lloyd down the right sideline, Dan Koppen snapped the ball while Tom Brady was still gesturing to call out blocking assignments. The timing of the play was a mess. On the ensuing sweep to Ridley, Koppen got caught in the wash at the linebacker level, didn't get downfield and the middle linebacker Curtis Lofton croaked Ridley. When Dane Fletcher tore his ACL, he was trying to plant his left foot and it rolled just a little. Almost a non-contact injury. On the deep post thrown to Brandon Lloyd, the back judge was in the wrong place and practically in the way. Had Brady led Lloyd more, there would have been a collision. The timing on the early screen plays was bad. On the first one, Ridley got stuck in the line while trying to leak out and Brady had nobody to throw to. Randy Cross threw out a "Woodley" when referring to Danny Woodhead. On the strip sack of Brady, Marcus Cannon's missed block was more egregious than Nate Solder's. Jerod Mayo showed excellent coverage skills throughout. He had back-to-back good covers and tackles of Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. His tip that led to the pick by Steve Gregory was a very athletic play. One thing Ridley can do that BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn't do much in 2011 - he makes the first guy miss. Watching the game again, you could see why Bill Belichick was somewhat pleased with his offense, run blocking. In the first quarter, several plays were very well blocked. Dont'a Hightower showed great power on two plays - one tossing the Saints tight end Higgins 20 feet out of bounds with a little shove, later meeting a Saints running back Chris Ivory hard in the hole and jolting him. Hightower did a poor job diagnosing a simple run through the middle by Pierre Thomas that went for 13 yards.
On the third-and-22 completion to Courtney Roby, Sterling Moore appeared to be trying to force Roby inside but Roby stutter-stepped on his release and got to the sidelines, putting Moore in chase mode where he doesn't have the speed to catch up. Ryan Wendell had a full-on whiff that got Brandon Bolden drilled in the first quarter. Ryan Mallett was just brutal on his first series but quite a bit better after that. He showed good pocket mobility on a couple of checkdown throws.

Freeman, Coleman lift Falcons past Saints, 45-32

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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.