Keys to victory: Saints 17, Falcons 13

What were the keys to victory for the New Orleans Saints in their 17-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons?

For the Saints, it was a matter of just following up on everything that they’ve done all season.

Brees on play-action

Most TD Passes (1st 13 Seasons)
NFL History

Drew Brees was 7 for 11 for 100 yards when utilizing a play-action fake. Both of his touchdowns in this game came via play action, giving him 10 such touchdown passes for the season. That’s one shy of Peyton Manning for the most in the NFL.

Brees picked on the right team. Entering Thursday, the Falcons had allowed a 91.5 Total QBR on play-action passes, the worst defensive rating in the NFL.

Graham’s record-tying day

Tight end Jimmy Graham had one of those play-action touchdowns, a 44-yard reception. Graham finished with exactly 100 receiving yards, giving him six 100-yard games this season. That tied Tony Gonzalez’s NFL record for most 100-yard games in a season by a tight end (done in both 2000 and 2004).

Those six games are tied with A.J. Green for the most in the NFL by any player this season

He now has six touchdowns on throws 15 or more yards downfield this season, and four receiving touchdowns of 40 yards or longer (combining yards on and after the catch), the most in the league.

Graham also had a career-high 26 yards after contact.

The Saints defense did its job

Matt Ryan may have completed 30 of 39 passes, but he also took a season high five sacks.

The Saints have sacked opposing quarterbacks on 9.0 percent of dropbacks. That is tied with the Rams for the highest rate in the league.

Cameron Jordan had a season-high 2.5 sacks, giving him 9.5 this season, the most he's had in any season of his career.

Entering Thursday, Ryan had been sacked on 4.4 percent of his dropbacks, the fourth lowest rate among NFL quarterbacks.

The Saints also forced their 12th fumble of the season. They had a total of 11 forced fumbles in 2013.