Saints and Falcons by the numbers

NEW ORLEANS -- The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information just passed along some stuff on the Falcons’ 27-24 overtime victory Sunday. Let’s run through some of the highlights.

  • Atlanta got the ball twice in overtime and the series had different approaches and different results. On the first series, which was three and out, the Falcons tried to do it through the air. Matt Ryan just missed a wide-open Harry Douglas on the first play and was sacked on third down. The Falcons ran the ball on second down. On the second drive, they ran the ball a lot. Using two backs on every one of 12 plays, the Falcons ran 10 times. They produced four first downs and 59 yards to set up Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal.

  • New Orleans’ Drew Brees didn’t do much when the Falcons were in their 4-3 base defense. Brees hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass against a base defense this season. On the season, Brees is averaging 6.2 yards per pass attempt and has a 70.8 passer rating against base defense. He also has thrown his only two interceptions against base defenses and both came against the Falcons. When Brees has seen five or more defensive backs this season, his numbers are much better. In those situations, he’s averaging 8.6 yards per attempt with a 130.8 passer rating. He also has six touchdowns and no interceptions when there have been five or more defensive backs on the field.

  • Like the rest of the Falcons, Ryan struggled mightily in the season-opening loss to Pittsburgh. But the quarterback has been exceptionally sharp in wins over Arizona and New Orleans. The biggest difference has been on third downs. In the Pittsburgh game, Ryan was 4-for-11 on third-down pass attempts and averaged 4.2 yards per attempt with a 49.8 passer rating. In the past two weeks, Ryan has completed 18 of 22 passes on third downs, averaged 10.5 yards per attempt, thrown four touchdowns with no interceptions and compiled a 150.2 passer rating.