Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes, Tevin Coleman ran for three and linebacker Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards to power the Atlanta Falcons to a 45-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday.
The Falcons (2-1) scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions and added a field goal on their sixth drive to build a 38-25 lead late in the third quarter.
Then with the Saints moving into position to cut the deficit to six, Brian Poole jumped a slant route and deflected Drew Brees’ pass intended for Michael Thomas.
The ball bounced high into the air and Jones, who played his high school ball in New Orleans, raced 90 yards for a score, putting the Falcons up 45-25 with 13:37 left.
Before that play, Brees had thrown 305 passes without an interception, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history behind Tom Brady (359), Alex Smith (312) and Bernie Kosar (308).
New Orleans (0-3) closed the gap to 45-32 with a 5-yard swing pass to Mark Ingram with 10 minutes left.
Ryan finished 20 of 30 for 240 yards. Devonta Freeman led Atlanta with 152 yards on 14 carries.
Brees had to throw 54 times, completing 36, for 376 yards and three touchdowns.
The Falcons marched to four consecutive touchdowns in the first half to grab a 28-17 halftime lead.
Ryan threw a 13-yard pass in the left flat to Freeman, who was wide open, and a shovel pass to wide receiver Justin Hardy that went for four yards and another score.
Coleman had the other two Falcons’ touchdowns in the first half on two-yard runs.
Ryan completed 15 of 20 passes for 137 yards in the first half and the Falcons had to punt only once.
Even when they did, the Falcons turned that into points as De’Vante Harris and Tommylee Lewis ran into each other while trying to field the punt at the New Orleans 11, leading to Atlanta’s first score.
The Saints took a 7-0 lead with a 75-yard opening drive capped by Brees’ two-yard pass to tight end Coby Fleener in the back of the end zone. Brees tied the score at 14 early in the second quarter with a three-yard slant to Thomas.
The Falcons struck for back-to-back touchdowns to extend their lead to 28-14, but the Saints got a 57-yard field goal from Wil Lutz to end the first half.