Falcons Quarterback Shines Despite 2 Interceptions, Leads Team to Victory Over Saints and First-place Tie

ATLANTA: Desmond Ridder overcame two interceptions by throwing a touchdown pass to Bijan Robinson in the fourth quarter and the Atlanta Falcons moved into a first-place tie in the woeful NFC South by beating the New Orleans Saints 24-15 on Sunday.

The Saints (5-6) were limited by injury problems at wide receiver after losing Chris Olave (concussion) and Rashid Shaheed (thigh). New Orleans still outgained the Falcons 444-397 as Derek Carr passed for 304 yards but had to settle for five field goals by Blake Grupe.

Atlanta led 14-12 before Ridder lofted the 26-yard scoring pass to Robinson. The rookie ran out of the end zone and into the tunnel.

Grupe’s first field goal gave New Orleans a 3-0 lead before Jessie Bates stepped in front of a pass intended for Shaheed and returned the interception 92 yards for a touchdown. It was Atlanta’s first pick-6 of the season.

Bates produced another big play late in the third quarter when his hit on Taysom Hill forced a fumble that was recovered by Atlanta defensive lineman Albert Huggins at the Atlanta 5.

The turnover came after Saints cornerback Tyrann Mathieu’s second interception of the game.

The Falcons were trying to increase their 14-9 lead late in the first half when Ridder’s high pass for Robinson was picked off by Mathieu at the New Orleans 1.

Ridder’s interceptions were disappointing in his return as a starter after playing behind Taylor Heinicke the past two games. Ridder completed 13 of 21 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

The Saints’ offensive frustrations continued in the third quarter when they moved 65 yards on 14 plays before Falcons linebacker Arnold Ebiketie sacked Carr on a third down play. The sack set up Grupe’s fourth field goal, a 45-yarder, to cut Atlanta’s lead to 14-12.

Grupe’s fifth field goal, a 39-yarder, trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 21-15. The Falcons answered by holding the ball for almost five minutes before Younhoe Koo’s 39-yard field goal extended the lead to nine points.

Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews started his 155th consecutive game, setting a team record with the NFL’s longest active streak. Quarterback Matt Ryan started 154 consecutive games from 2009-19.


Olave had team-high totals of seven catches for 114 yards before leaving in the third quarter. Shaheed was escorted to the locker room late in the second quarter. Shaheed’s injury came after Michael Thomas was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week. … Saints C Erik McCoy was taken to the medical tent in the third quarter. … Falcons cornerback Mike Hughes returned after leaving with a hand injury in the first quarter.


The Saints begin a stretch of three consecutive home games when they host the Detroit Lions next Sunday.

The Falcons visit the New York Jets next Sunday.


AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL