|Teams involved||Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints|
November 20, 1967|
NO 27, ATL 24
|Number of meetings||89|
|Most recent meeting||
September 8, 2013|
NO 23 ATL 17
|Next meeting||November 21, 2013 at 7:25 PM in Atlanta,Georgia|
|All-time series||ATL 47-42|
|Regular season series||ATL 46-42|
|Largest victory||ATL: 62-7 (9/16/1973)|
|Longest win streak||
ATL: 10 (September 15, 1995 - December 5, 1999)
|Current streak||NO 1|
Super Bowl Appearances (2)
Division Championships (10)
Wild Card Berths (10) (1970—present)
The Falcons–Saints rivalry is a divisional rivalry in the NFC South of the National Football League. At 88 games played, the series is by far the oldest and most established rivalry in the division. Born one year apart, the Saints and Falcons were the first two NFL franchises in the Deep South (Washington and Dallas being arguably southern but not in the "traditional" Deep South). They have shared many of the same players, such as Morten Andersen (the leading scorer in both franchises' histories), Bobby Hebert (who quarterbacked for both teams in the 1990s), and Joe Horn (the Pro Bowl Saints receiver who left for the Falcons in 2007). They have also drawn coaches from the same families, and even shared a head coach: recent Falcons coach Jim L. Mora is the son of longtime Saints coach Jim E. Mora, and former Falcons and Saints coach Wade Phillips is the son of former Saints coach Bum Phillips. The series has been rarely noted by the national media prior to the 2006 NFL season due to both teams' long stretches of futility; however, the September 2006 match-up, which served as the Louisiana Superdome's official reopening, was heralded as a major milestone in New Orleans' and the Gulf Coast's recovery from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the late season match-ups in the 2010 and 2011 seasons held playoff implications for both teams. Games between the Falcons and Saints have riveted their respective regions for more than 40 years; fans of both teams consider the other their most important and hated opponent.
ESPN.com writer Len Pasquarelli has cited the rivalry as one of the best in sports: "Every year, bus caravans loaded with rowdy (and usually very inebriated) fans make the seven-hour trip between the two cities. Unless you've attended a Falcons-Saints debauchery-filled afternoon, you'll just have to take my word for how much fun it really can be."
Atlanta currently leads the all-time series only by 47-42 (46-42 regular season, 1-0 playoffs) while New Orleans stands atop the rivalry by taking the first and currently only Superbowl victory between the two rivals. Since Sean Payton and Drew Brees arrived in New Orleans to change the structure and face of the New Orleans Saints franchise in 2006; the Saints have since lead the winning percentage and have been closing the gap of the winning series Atlanta has held for years between the two and have been leading the rivalry. The past 15 meetings Saints have won 12 to Falcons 3.
It began in 1967, the first year of play for the Saints, and press accounts from that game, including the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune and Los Angeles Times, refer to it as the "Dixie Championship." In recent years, the game has sometimes been referred to as the "Southern Showdown." This has especially been the case leading up to the first of the two 2011 games, by WWL radio in New Orleans.
Notable games in the series
- The first time that the Saints ever made an appearance in the city of New Orleans was on September 9, 1967, in a pre-season game against Atlanta; the Saints won, 27-14. The two teams continued to play yearly in the pre-season until they became divisional opponents. A notable exception was on August 11, 1984 when the Saints took a 31-21 victory in New Orleans.
- The rivalry first truly began to heat up when the two teams became divisional opponents in 1970, allowing them to play twice per season. Despite being located east of the Mississippi River, both relatively new expansion teams were placed in the National Football Conference's Western Division that year – a tough division that would often leave the two teams battling it out with each other just to stay out of last place. Atlanta's 62-7 victory in 1973 remains the most lopsided loss in Saints history – particularly humiliating since it occurred on the Saints' home field. Three consecutive improbable last-minute wins by Atlanta in 1978 and 1979 further fueled the rivalry, with the frustrated Saints finally avenging in the second game of 1979 with a 37-6 rout in Atlanta.
- The only postseason meeting to date in the Falcons–Saints rivalry was played in the Wild Card Playoff round on December 28, 1991 at the Superdome. The Saints entered the 1991 playoffs as the NFC West champions while the Falcons were a Wild Card team. Atlanta won the game on the road, 27-20, as Falcons quarterback Chris Miller threw the game-winning 61-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Haynes with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter.
- In the midst of New Orleans' troubled 2005 season in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they suffered a loss at San Antonio to the Falcons on October 16. The Saints raced to a 10-3 lead in the second quarter before a fumble was returned by DeAngelo Hall of the Falcons for a 66-yard touchdown and a tie game. On the final play of the second quarter, the Falcons blocked a field goal try and Demorrio Williams ran back a 59-yard touchdown. An exchange of six touchdowns ensued and Devery Henderson caught a 15-yard game-tying score, leaving the game 31-31 in the final minute of regulation. A penalty on the Saints helped the Falcons set up Todd Peterson's 36-yard field goal on the final play, ending a 34-31 Falcons win. Saints coach Jim Haslett was so angry over the late penalty that he repeatedly ripped the "chickenshit" calls by the referees.
- The Falcons were the opponent in the Saints' first game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, held on September 25, 2006. The Saints won the nationally televised match 23–3; the game was the highest-rated program in the history of ESPN and the second-highest-rated cable program of all time. The tone of the game was set early in the first quarter, when Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt by Falcons kicker Michael Koenen and Curtis Deloatch recovered the ball in the Falcons' end zone for a Saints touchdown. It was the first score in the Saints' first game in New Orleans in nearly 21 months, during which time Hurricane Katrina had devastated the city and the team. The Saints won the game and went on to have the most successful season in their history up to that time. In July 2012, "Rebirth", a statue depicting Gleason blocking the punt, was erected outside the Superdome; a news report commented that the blocked punt "etched Steve Gleason into Saints lore and became symbolic of New Orleans' resilience in the face of disaster".
- The Falcons hosted the Saints on November 26, 2006, at the Georgia Dome. Michael Vick rushed for 166 yards but threw for only 84 yards while Drew Brees of the Saints threw for 349 yards (a week after a 510-yard performance against the Cincinnati Bengals), including a 48-yard heave to Terrance Copper caught in heavy traffic in the Falcons end zone for a Saints touchdown. The Saints routed the Falcons 31–13, and after the game, Vick flashed an obscene gesture to booing Falcons fans.
- In 2008, the Falcons flew to the Louisiana Superdome for a Week 14 NFC South rematch with the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta trailed fairly early in the first quarter as Saints QB Drew Brees completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to RB Reggie Bush. In the second quarter, the Falcons continued to trail as kicker Garrett Hartley got a 26-yard field goal. Atlanta RB Michael Turner got a 5-yard TD run, yet Hartley gave New Orleans a 46-yard field goal. The Falcons struck back with rookie QB Matt Ryan completing a 2-yard TD pass to WR Brian Finneran, but the Saints closed out the half with Hartley's 25-yard field goal. Atlanta got the third quarter's only points as kicker Jason Elam made a 23-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, New Orleans tried to pull away as Brees completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to RB Pierre Thomas, but their 2-point conversion attempt failed. The Falcons then took the lead as Ryan got a 12-yard touchdown run, followed by a 2-point pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins. However, the Saints got the last score as Thomas got a 5-yard TD run for a 29–25 New Orleans win.
- The Saints were on a quest for an undefeated season in 2009 when on November 2 they hosted the Falcons on Monday Night Football. The Falcons scored first in the first quarter on a 13-yard Michael Turner rushing touchdown, answered later in the quarter by Pierre Thomas, who scored from 22 yards out. After forcing a Falcons punt, the Saints were hemmed in at their own four-yard line; Drew Brees was sacked and fumbled to Kroy Biermann, who ran in a Falcons touchdown and a 14-7 Atlanta lead after one quarter. New Orleans then erupted with 21 second-quarter points on touchdowns by Marques Colston and Reggie Bush and a Jabari Greer interception returned 48 yards for the touchdown. Atlanta's struggles were exacerbated when kicker Jason Elam missed two second-quarter field goal tries, but the Falcons stayed close as Matt Ryan found Roddy White deep and connected on a 68-yard score. Elam connected on a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth and the Falcons forced a Thomas fumble, but Ryan was then picked off by Tracy Porter. Brees led the Saints down field and connected with Thomas from one yard out and a 35-24 lead, but after turning the ball over on downs and then forcing yet another Saints fumble the Falcons got another Elam field goal in the final two minutes. Coy Wire then got the ensuing Falcons onside kick at the Saints 49, but Ryan's throw was picked off by Darren Sharper at the Saints 5, ending a 35-27 Saints win.
- In the 2010 season, both teams met for the fifth time in six seasons on Monday Night Football. Playoff implications were on the line for both teams, specifically the NFC South title and potentially the top overall seed in the NFC Playoffs. Going into Week 16, Atlanta, with a 12-2 record, had already secured a playoff berth, needing a win in either of their last two games or for New Orleans to lose at least one game to win the division, while New Orleans, with a 10-4 record, needed to win out and for Atlanta to lose against Carolina in Week 17 to repeat as division champions. New Orleans would score first with Garrett Hartley kicking a FG from 52 yards late in the first quarter. RB Pierre Thomas would add to the Saints' lead with a 2-yard TD run; however, Atlanta would respond with a Matt Ryan 7-yard TD pass to Roddy White to cut the lead to three. After a scoreless third quarter, the Falcons took the lead with Chauncey Davis returning an interception 26 yards for a touchdown. New Orleans reclaimed the lead late in the 4th with a Drew Brees 6-yard TD pass to Jimmy Graham. Atlanta attempted a comeback; however, New Orleans held on for a 17-14 win, clinching a playoff berth in the process. In Week 17, Atlanta won the division and top seed in the NFC with a victory over Carolina while New Orleans settled for a wild-card spot with a loss to Tampa Bay. In the playoffs, New Orleans lost to the Seattle Seahawks 41-36 in the Wild-Card Round, while Atlanta was routed by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round 48-21.
- In the 2011 season, both teams met again for a Monday Night Football matchup. Like the previous season, playoff implications were at stake for both teams, however, in a near-inverse of the 2010 meeting, New Orleans, entered Week 16 with an 11-3 record with a playoff berth already clinched, were in better position to win the NFC South division title, and needed a win in one of their final two games or an Atlanta loss in one of their final two games to clinch the division title, while Atlanta, entering Week 16 with a 9-5 record, needed to win out as well as for New Orleans to lose against Carolina in Week 17 to repeat as NFC South champions. A major historical aspect of this game was Saint Drew Brees' pursuit of Dan Marino's single season record for passing yards, 5084, set in 1984. Entering the game with 4780 yards, Brees needed only 305 in his final two games to obtain the record. Atlanta received the opening kickoff and quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead but the Saints immediately responded with an 84-yard touchdown drive sparked by Brees' 38-yard completion to Lance Moore on the drive's first play. Brees would end the first quarter with 66 yards. By halftime, Brees was within 75 yards of the record with 230 yards in the first half, thanks in large part to the 164 yards he notched in the second quarter, which lifted the Saints to a 21-10 lead. Despite only having 45 yards in the third quarter, Brees managed to help the Saints extend their lead to 31-13 and he entered the fourth quarter 30 yards shy of Marino's record. The fourth quarter was somewhat atypical of how the Saints had played during the first three quarters in that they punted for the first time in the game and were held to a three-and-out for the third straight possession dating back to the third quarter when they had to settle for a field goal after failing to get a first down following Darren Sproles' 92-yard kickoff return which set them up with excellent field position at the Atlanta 14-yard line. Continuing the breaking of trends was the Saints' defense, which came into the game having forced the fewest turnovers of any defense in the league. That improved when linebacker Scott Shanle stripped the football from Falcons' wide receiver Julio Jones at the Falcons' 35-yard line and Saints' free safety Malcolm Jenkins grabbed the ball bouncing off the turf in stride and ran 30 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, extending the lead to 38-16. With zero completions or yards through the Saints' first two fourth-quarter possessions, it appeared uncertain if Brees would be able to get the record in front of a national audience in prime time but after the Saints' defense succeeded in stopping the Falcons on fourth down for the second straight possession and having taken over at the Falcons' 32-yard line with Brees needing just 30 for the record, the stage was set for history. On the ensuing drive, Brees completed a 12-yard pass to Marques Colston and an 11-yarder to Devery Henderson coming to within 7 yards of the record. After an incomplete pass on first and goal from the Falcons' 9-yard line, Brees connected with running back Darren Sproles at the 1-yard line by the left hash mark and he carried it into the endzone completing the quest for the record with Brees at 5087 yards through 15 games and capping off the scoring for the game with the Saints winning 45–16 and clinching the NFC South division title, their third since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006 and fifth in franchise history. Brees ended the night completing 23 of his 39 passing attempts for 307 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. This was also his 12th game of the season with at least 300 yards passing, an NFL record.
- In 2012, the Saints handed the Falcons their first loss of the season in week 10. Three weeks later, airport workers in Atlanta egged the Saints' charter bus when the Saints arrived in Atlanta for their game against the Falcons. Drew Brees threw 5 interceptions and his record of consecutive games with a touchdown pass was snapped.
Individual game results
||Saints victory|||Falcons victory||Post Season Meeting|
|Date||Site||Winning team||Losing team||Series|
|November 20, 1967||New Orleans|||New Orleans||27||Atlanta||24||NO 1-0|
|December 7, 1969||Atlanta|||Atlanta||45||New Orleans||17||Tied 1-1|
|September 20, 1970||New Orleans|||Atlanta||14||New Orleans||3||ATL 2-1|
|October 25, 1970||Atlanta|||Atlanta||32||New Orleans||14||ATL 3-1|
|October 24, 1971||Atlanta|||Atlanta||28||New Orleans||6||ATL 4-1|
|December 19, 1971||New Orleans|||Atlanta||24||New Orleans||20||ATL 5-1|
|October 15, 1972||New Orleans|||Atlanta||21||New Orleans||14||ATL 6-1|
|November 12, 1972||Atlanta|||Atlanta||36||New Orleans||20||ATL 7-1|
|September 16, 1973||New Orleans|||Atlanta||62||New Orleans||7||ATL 8-1|
|December 16, 1973||Atlanta|||Atlanta||14||New Orleans||10||ATL 9-1|
|September 29, 1974||New Orleans|||New Orleans||14||Atlanta||13||ATL 9-2|
|October 20, 1974||Atlanta|||New Orleans||13||Atlanta||3||ATL 9-3|
|October 5, 1975||Atlanta|||Atlanta||14||New Orleans||7||ATL 10-3|
|November 2, 1975||New Orleans|||New Orleans||23||Atlanta||7||ATL 10-4|
|October 10, 1976||New Orleans|||New Orleans||30||Atlanta||0||ATL 10-5|
|October 31, 1976||Atlanta|||Atlanta||23||New Orleans||20||ATL 11-5|
|November 20, 1977||New Orleans|||New Orleans||21||Atlanta||20||ATL 11-6|
|December 18, 1977||Atlanta|||Atlanta||35||New Orleans||7||ATL 12-6|
|November 12, 1978||Atlanta|||Atlanta||20||New Orleans||17||ATL 13-6|
|November 26, 1978||New Orleans|||Atlanta||20||New Orleans||17||ATL 14-6|
|September 2, 1979||New Orleans|||Atlanta||40||New Orleans||34||ATL 15-6|
|November 25, 1979||Atlanta|||New Orleans||37||Atlanta||6||ATL 15-7|
|October 19, 1980||New Orleans|||Atlanta||41||New Orleans||14||ATL 16-7|
|November 16, 1980||Atlanta|||Atlanta||31||New Orleans||13||ATL 17-7|
|September 6, 1981||Atlanta|||Atlanta||27||New Orleans||0||ATL 18-7|
|November 1, 1981||New Orleans|||Atlanta||41||New Orleans||10||ATL 19-7|
|December 12, 1982||Atlanta|||Atlanta||35||New Orleans||0||ATL 20-7|
|January 2, 1983||New Orleans|||New Orleans||35||Atlanta||6||ATL 20-8|
|October 9, 1983||Atlanta|||New Orleans||19||Atlanta||17||ATL 20-9|
|November 6, 1983||New Orleans|||New Orleans||27||Atlanta||10||ATL 20-10|
|September 2, 1984||New Orleans|||Atlanta||36||New Orleans||28||ATL 21-10|
|November 11, 1984||Atlanta|||New Orleans||17||Atlanta||13||ATL 21-11|
|October 20, 1985||Atlanta|||Atlanta||31||New Orleans||24||ATL 22-11|
|December 22, 1985||New Orleans|||Atlanta||16||New Orleans||10||ATL 23-11|
|September 7, 1986||New Orleans|||Atlanta||31||New Orleans||10||ATL 24-11|
|December 14, 1986||Atlanta|||New Orleans||14||Atlanta||9||ATL 24-12|
|November 1, 1987||Atlanta|||New Orleans||38||Atlanta||0||ATL 24-13|
|September 11, 1988||Atlanta|||New Orleans||29||Atlanta||21||ATL 24-14|
|December 18, 1988||New Orleans|||New Orleans||10||Atlanta||9||ATL 24-15|
|October 29, 1989||New Orleans|||New Orleans||20||Atlanta||13||ATL 24-16|
|November 19, 1989||Atlanta|||New Orleans||26||Atlanta||17||ATL 24-17|
|October 7, 1990||Atlanta|||Atlanta||28||New Orleans||27||ATL 25-17|
|November 25, 1990||New Orleans|||New Orleans||10||Atlanta||7||ATL 25-18|
|September 29, 1991||Atlanta|||New Orleans||27||Atlanta||6||ATL 25-19|
|November 24, 1991||New Orleans|||Atlanta||23||New Orleans||20||ATL 26-19|
|December 28, 1991||New Orleans|||Atlanta||27||New Orleans||20||ATL 27-19|
|September 20, 1992||Atlanta|||New Orleans||10||Atlanta||7||ATL 27-20|
|December 3, 1992||New Orleans|||New Orleans||22||Atlanta||14||ATL 27-21|
|September 12, 1993||Atlanta|||New Orleans||34||Atlanta||31||ATL 27-22|
|October 24, 1993||New Orleans|||Atlanta||26||New Orleans||15||ATL 28-22|
|November 13, 1994||New Orleans|||New Orleans||33||Atlanta||32||ATL 28-23|
|December 11, 1994||Atlanta|||New Orleans||29||Atlanta||20||ATL 28-24|
|September 15, 1995||New Orleans|||Atlanta||27||New Orleans||24||ATL 29-24|
|December 10, 1995||Atlanta|||Atlanta||19||New Orleans||14||ATL 30-24|
|September 22, 1996||New Orleans|||Atlanta||28||New Orleans||14||ATL 31-24|
|November 17, 1996||Atlanta|||Atlanta||17||New Orleans||15||ATL 32-24|
|October 12, 1997||New Orleans|||Atlanta||23||New Orleans||17||ATL 33-24|
|November 23, 1997||Atlanta|||Atlanta||20||New Orleans||3||ATL 34-24|
|October 18, 1998||Atlanta|||Atlanta||31||New Orleans||23||ATL 35-24|
|December 13, 1998||New Orleans|||Atlanta||27||New Orleans||17||ATL 36-24|
|October 10, 1999||New Orleans|||Atlanta||20||New Orleans||17||ATL 37-24|
|December 5, 1999||Atlanta|||Atlanta||35||New Orleans||12||ATL 38-24|
|October 22, 2000||Atlanta|||New Orleans||21||Atlanta||19||ATL 38-25|
|December 27, 2000||New Orleans|||New Orleans||23||Atlanta||7||ATL 38-26|
|October 21, 2001||New Orleans|||Atlanta||20||New Orleans||13||ATL 39-26|
|December 9, 2001||Atlanta|||New Orleans||28||Atlanta||10||ATL 39-27|
|October 27, 2002||New Orleans|||Atlanta||37||New Orleans||35||ATL 40-27|
|November 17, 2002||Atlanta|||Atlanta||24||New Orleans||21||ATL 41-27|
|October 19, 2003||Atlanta|||New Orleans||45||Atlanta||17||ATL 41-28|
|November 16, 2003||New Orleans|||New Orleans||23||Atlanta||20||ATL 41-29|
|November 28, 2004||Atlanta|||Atlanta||24||New Orleans||21||ATL 42-29|
|December 26, 2004||New Orleans|||New Orleans||26||Atlanta||13||ATL 42-30|
|October 16, 2005||San Antonio|||Atlanta||34||New Orleans||31||ATL 43-30|
|December 12, 2005||Atlanta|||Atlanta||36||New Orleans||17||ATL 44-30|
|September 25, 2006||New Orleans|||New Orleans||23||Atlanta||3||ATL 44-31|
|November 26, 2006||Atlanta|||New Orleans||31||Atlanta||13||ATL 44-32|
|October 21, 2007||New Orleans|||New Orleans||22||Atlanta||16||ATL 44-33|
|December 10, 2007||Atlanta|||New Orleans||34||Atlanta||14||ATL 44-34|
|November 9, 2008||Atlanta|||Atlanta||34||New Orleans||20||ATL 45-34|
|December 7, 2008||New Orleans|||New Orleans||29||Atlanta||25||ATL 45-35|
|November 2, 2009||New Orleans|||New Orleans||35||Atlanta||27||ATL 45-36|
|December 14, 2009||Atlanta|||New Orleans||26||Atlanta||23||ATL 45-37|
|September 26, 2010||New Orleans|||Atlanta||27||New Orleans||24||ATL 46-37|
|December 27, 2010||Atlanta|||New Orleans||17||Atlanta||14||ATL 46-38|
|November 13, 2011||Atlanta|||New Orleans||26||Atlanta||23||ATL 46-39|
|December 26, 2011||New Orleans|||New Orleans||45||Atlanta||16||ATL 46-40|
|November 11, 2012||New Orleans|||New Orleans||31||Atlanta||27||ATL 46-41|
|November 29, 2012||Atlanta|||Atlanta||23||New Orleans||13||ATL 47-41|
|September 8, 2013||New Orleans|||New Orleans||23||Atlanta||17||ATL 47-42|
The Saints hold a 3-1 edge in pre-season games against the Falcons, including a victory on September 9, 1967 when the Saints played in the city of New Orleans for the very first time. The home teams have always won the pre-season games in this series.
|1967||New Orleans Saints||27-14||New Orleans|
|1969||New Orleans Saints||21-17||New Orleans|
|1984||New Orleans Saints||31-21||New Orleans|
The Falcons hold a 4-2 lead in overtime games in this series.
|1979||Atlanta Falcons||40-34||New Orleans|
|1991||Atlanta Falcons||23-20||New Orleans|
|1995||Atlanta Falcons||27-24||New Orleans|
|2003||New Orleans Saints||23-20||New Orleans|
|2010||Atlanta Falcons||27-24||New Orleans|
|2011||New Orleans Saints||26-23||Atlanta|
Monday Night Football
The Saints and Falcons have met six times on Monday Night Football, most recently in 2011. The series has been played three times in Atlanta and three times in New Orleans, and overall the Saints lead 5–1.
The 2006 matchup, the first game played in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, was the second highest rated cable television broadcast of all time, a mark that has since been surpassed. The 2010 matchup averaged 19.1 million viewers on ESPN, making it the most watched cable broadcast of 2010.
|2006||New Orleans Saints||23-3||New Orleans|
|2007||New Orleans Saints||34-14||Atlanta|
|2009||New Orleans Saints||35-27||New Orleans|
|2010||New Orleans Saints||17-14||Atlanta|
|2011||New Orleans Saints||45-16||New Orleans|
Thursday Night Football
Atlanta and New Orleans played on Thursday, December 3, 1992, with the Saints winning 22-14 in a game broadcast on ESPN. The Saints and Falcons have had one meeting on the NFL Network's Thursday Night Football, and the Falcons won that Week 13 matchup in 2012 23-13 in the Georgia Dome; they will play again on Thursday Night Football for week 12 of the 2013 season.