ATLANTA — Drew Brees threw a pair of touchdown passes as the New Orleans Saints overcame a lackluster offensive showing to hold off the Atlanta Falcons 17-13 in the NFL on Thursday.
Brees hooked up with Jimmy Graham on a 44-yard touchdown throw and Benjamin Watson on a 1-yard scoring play, both in the first half. The two TDs were good enough to give the first-place Saints a sweep of the season series with their NFC South conference rivals.
Atlanta dropped its fifth straight game and ensured its first losing season since 2007. The Falcons were also officially eliminated from the division race with five weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Falcons had a chance to pull off the upset, driving to the Saints 29-yard line with less than 3 minutes to go. But New Orleans turned up the pressure on Matt Ryan, Atlanta missed a long field goal, and the Saints ran off all but the last 5 seconds.
Brees was 23 of 33 for 278 yards. Ryan was 30 of 39 for 297 yards, but Atlanta’s offense produced only one touchdown — the fourth time that has happened during its five-game losing streak.