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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 18 June, 2019
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Falcons pick off Brees 5 times, beat Saints 23-13

Uh-oh. It was the end of Drew Brees’ NFL-record touchdown streak on a night to forget for the Saints talisman.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Image: (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)

BOY, DID DREW Brees lay an egg against the Atlanta Falcons. Five interceptions for the first time in his career.

The end of his NFL-record touchdown streak. And a timing mistake that cost the Saints dearly.

The Falcons raced to a 17-0 lead, then turned to their defence to make it stand up. The result was a 23-13 victory last night that pushed Atlanta to the brink of a division championship and may have finished off the Saints’ fading hopes.

“Five interceptions against one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game,” said Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson. “That’s an amazing feeling.”

Brees had thrown a touchdown pass in 54 consecutive games, eclipsing Johnny Unitas’ longstanding record earlier in the season.

“I can’t lie,” said safety William Moore, who had two of Atlanta’s interceptions. “We didn’t even know about it.”

All the Falcons (11-1) cared about was beating their biggest rival and a nemesis in recent years. New Orleans (5-7) had won four in a row and 11 of 13, the bitter feelings in the series epitomized by the reception the Saints got at the Atlanta airport.

Their bus was pelted by eggs.

Brees looked like he was playing on egg shells at the Georgia Dome.

“That’s the first time that’s ever happened to me, so that’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “I pride myself on being a good decision-maker and not someone who will be a detriment to the game.”

Michael Turner scored on Atlanta’s opening possession, Tony Gonzalez hauled in a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan, and Matt Bryant booted three field goals, including a 55-yarder. The defence did the rest. Thomas DeCoud, Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux also had interceptions, and another pick by Corey Peters didn’t count because of a penalty. The performance was even more impressive considering the Falcons’ best cover cornerback, Asante Samuel, left the game in the first quarter after aggravating a right shoulder injury.

“We got the monkey off our back,” DeCoud said. The Falcons will clinch the NFC South with a month to go if Tampa Bay lose at Denver on Sunday.

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