By Tom E. Curran
NEW ORLEANS - On Monday, Bill Belichick sneered at the proposed changes to kickoffs floated by the NFL's Competition Committee. On Tuesday, he was more accepting. Asked his reaction to the rule adopted Tuesday which will move the kickoff line of scrimmage from the 30 to the 35, Belichick downplayed the overall impact. "It's fine, we look forward to it," Belichick told ESPN.com's Tim Graham and a few other media members.Initially, the rule was also going to move the line of scrimmage on touchbacks up to the 25. It will remain at the 20. Additionally, the two-man blocking wedge will still be in effect. "I think that's good for the game," Belichick said of streamlining the change. "We don't need too many new rules every year. It's hard for the coach to keep up with them, let alone the fans. I'm still working on some of the new rules from last year."Asked what he figured the impact would be, Belichick said, "Based on the numbers, you're still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters. At the end of the year it goes down anyway. There's a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn't carry as far in the cold. I don't care. Just doesn't go as far."The league also adopted a rule that makes all scoring plays subject to booth review without a coach's challenge. "It'skind of like the college rule, kind of cleans it up a little bit," said Belichick."I think any time the pro rules and the college rules are the same, that's better for the fans. It's easier to follow, you know, one foot, two foot, all the things like that. To make it more consistent, that's better."
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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.
Devin McCourty says the early season results show the New England Patriots have bought in to what the coaches are saying