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    === Saints beat reeling Falcons; Brees eclipses Moon on passing list ===
 
 Atlanta,  GA  (SportsNetwork.com) -  Drew Brees  passed for  278 yards and two
 touchdowns  as the New Orleans Saints outlasted the Atlanta Falcons, 17-13, on
 Thursday at Georgia Dome.
 
 Brees  completed  23-of-33 passes and  eclipsed Warren Moon (49,325) for fifth
 place  on the  NFL's  all-time passing  list in  the  process. Brees  finished
 the game with 49,564 career yards.
 
 Jimmy  Graham grabbed five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown for the Saints
 (9-2),  who have won  three straight and sit 1 1/2 games ahead of the Carolina
 Panthers atop the NFC South.
 
 Atlanta (2-9), on the other hand, has dropped five straight games and owns the
 worst record in the division despite an efficient effort from Matt Ryan.
 
 Ryan  finished 30-of-39  passing for 292 yards, while Steven Jackson racked up
 63 yards on 16 carries and scored the Falcons' lone touchdown in the loss.
 
 New  Orleans held a 14-13 edge at halftime and neither offense managed much in
 the third quarter until late in the frame when Graham got the Saints deep into
 Atlanta territory with a 35-yard pickup on 3rd-and-5.
 
 The Saints failed to pick up another first down, though, and settled for a 41-
 yard  field goal from Garrett Hartley that made it 17-13 with 4:42 left in the
 quarter.
 
 Ryan  scrambled for  six yards on 3rd-and-2  from the New Orleans 46 to extend
 Atlanta's  ensuing drive before back-to-back completions moved the team to the
 24-yard line.
 
 However,  the  Falcons turned the ball  over two plays later, as defensive end
 Keyunta  Dawson stripped rookie wideout Darius Johnson just after he secured a
 catch  and cornerback Corey White pounced on the loose ball at his own 13-yard
 line to give possession back to New Orleans.
 
 After  forcing  the Saints to  punt, Atlanta took over  at its own 9-yard line
 before  Ryan  completed his  next five passes  to move the  Falcons to the New
 Orleans 37.
 
 Ryan  had  his string  of 12  consecutive completions  snapped two plays later
 before being dropped for a 5-yard loss to leave the Falcons facing 3rd-and-15.
 
 Following another Ryan incompletion with 2:24 to play, Matt Bryant appeared to
 bury a 52-yard field goal, but the Saints called timeout just before the snap.
 
 Bryant  trotted  out to try  the kick again, but  this time his attempt missed
 wide left to keep the margin at four.
 
 "If  we would  have  gotten some  yardage  on  third down,  it  opens up  your
 playbook,"  Falcons head coach  Mike Smith said of his decision to try a field
 goal. "There is not a whole lot of great 4th-and-15 plays."
 
 New  Orleans  then picked up  a pair  of first downs  on its ensuing touch and
 forced the Falcons to use all three of their timeouts.
 
 Atlanta eventually got the ball back at its own 38 with five seconds left, but
 it was too little, too late.
 
 "I  thought that it  was a real good, hard-fought win," Saints head coach Sean
 Payton  said. "I thought  both teams played hard. We knew it was going to be a
 challenge. It is every time we play them."
 
 Early  on, the  Falcons found the end  zone for the only time on their opening
 possession  of  the game,  with the big  play of the  drive coming on Jacquizz
 Rodgers' 22-yard catch-and-run on 3rd-and-3 from the New Orleans 31.
 
 Two  plays later, Ryan  fired a quick slant to Johnson, who stretched the ball
 across  the  goal line for  what was originally  deemed a touchdown, but video
 review showed the wideout's knee on the ground just before the tip of the ball
 broke the plane of the goal line.
 
 Facing 3rd-and-goal from less than a yard out, Jackson surged over the pile on
 the next play to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead with 8:48 left in the first.
 
 The  Saints  responded with a 15-play  touchdown trek that featured five third
 down conversions and ate up over 7 1/2 minutes off the clock.
 
 "We needed to come back," Brees said of responding to Atlanta's touchdown. "We
 put together a great drive. It was 15 plays. That was a great way to answer."
 
 Brees accounted for four of the five conversions, including the final one that
 saw  the Saints'  signal-caller find tight end Benjamin Watson dragging across
 the back of the end zone for a 1-yard score with 1:17 left in the first.
 
 Bryant knocked down a 39-yard field goal early in the second to give Atlanta a
 10-7  lead, but the  Saints countered with a quick 5-play sequence to take the
 lead for good.
 
 Graham  notched  the go-ahead score, as  he beat his defender on an out-and-up
 down  the left sideline and hauled in the pass before carrying a defender into
 the end zone for a 44-yard TD that made it 14-10 with 10:12 left in the half.
 
 Bryant  buried a  24-yard field  goal  on Atlanta's  next touch  to bring  the
 Falcons within one.
 
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 The  Saints have  won 13 of the  last 16 meetings between the teams but trails
 46-43 in the all-time series ... Atlanta's losing streak is the team's longest
 since  a  six-game hiccup in 2007  ... Atlanta's Harry Douglas finished with a
 team-high  nine catches for  79 yards ... Thomas totaled 73 yards on 10 rushes
 and  57 yards  on five catches ...  Atlanta's touchdown on its first series of
 the  game  was the team's first  points on an  opening drive in its last seven
 games ... Ryan was sacked a season-high five times.
 
 
 
 11/22 00:47:41 ET