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Saints Nip Falcons 17-13

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(ATLANTA) --  In a battle that featured two teams heading in opposite directions this season, the New Orleans Saints came out on top.

Drew Brees tossed a pair of first half touchdowns as the Saints edged the Atlanta Falcons 17-13 on Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.

"We knew coming here was going to be a challenge," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "The two teams, the history, regardless of the record it has always been a close game, and tonight was no exception."

The Falcons had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Saints applied pressure on Matt Ryan to stall the drive.  Matt Bryant missed a long field goal attempt and the Saints were able to run out the clock.

New Orleans (9-2) isn't normally known for its defense, but the unit forced a crucial fumble in the fourth quarter and sacked Ryan five times throughout the game.

"We responded to momentum changes and some adversity in the football game," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "But it was still not good enough. If you don't win, it's not good enough."

Atlanta (2-9) dropped its fifth straight game, clinching its first losing season since 2007.

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