By Danny Cox
The New Orleans Saints stepped out onto the Superdome field on Sunday and looked to defeat their division rival, the Atlanta Falcons. Well, they had also hoped to take down the last undefeated team in the NFL, and they did just that.
The Saints were able to come out and use their offensive firepower to put up 31 points on the Falcons. Along with that, they also had just enough defense to stop some fourth-quarter drives by Atlanta that sealed the victory. Many would say that it was a combination of talent and coming up big when it truly counted.
Others, such as Falcons wide receiver Roddy White believe that Atlanta just “gave” the victory to the Saints.
“It’s not like they came out here and won a game,” said White, who finished Sunday’s game with seven catches for 114 yards. “I think we kind of gave it to them,” said White, who made headlines last week when he said he believed the Falcons had the “pedigree” to finish 16-0. “We play them in three weeks, and we’ll be ready.”
It is no surprise to fans of both teams – or even just those that pay attention to the NFL – that there is bad blood in these games. The Saints and Falcons just don’t like one another, and that hatred carries over from one season to the next. White’s comments make for some good cannon fodder for the rematch in three weeks.
White’s words aren’t the only thing to add fuel to the fire, though. Linebacker Curtis Lofton left the Falcons after last season and signed with the Saints as a free agent. Lofton doesn’t believe that there is actually a “rivalry” going on, because New Orleans has won 11 of the past 13 games between the two teams.
“The team out on the field today was the reason why I came to the Saints,” said Lofton, who joined New Orleans only to see his former team get off to its best start in franchise history. “We’re finally starting to come together.”
Adding even more onto that is that Saints linebacker Scott Shanle said the Falcons turned on one that just to be their own. Before the game began, Atlanta players began taunting Lofton.
“They were talking (expletive) to our guy Curtis Lofton,” he told the website. “I couldn’t even understand them. They were just walking all over our drills trying to mess with him. (Jonathan) Vilma went and told their coach it was classless, and they didn’t even say anything. It set the tone for the day. It was classless, and they got what they deserved.”
New Orleans has won four of their last five games after starting the season off 1-4. This big-time win has reinvigorated the teams and has the Saints hopeful of a chance to make the playoffs. The Falcons are primed for the playoffs, but were not happy about losing a game.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith, who is 2-7 against the Saints and 49-15 against the rest of the NFL in his four-plus regular seasons as Atlanta coach. “We were close. … This will be something we will learn from.”
Shanle wasn’t fazed by White’s words, or those of any other Falcon. He still insists that the Saints “own” Atlanta, and aren’t worried about what they say or do.
“They’re like our little brothers. Deep down they know they can’t mess with us even when we are having a down year,” he told Yahoo Sports.
This rivalry is going to do nothing but continue to build and build as the years go on. The heat between the Saints and Falcons is also going to just intensify with each game. In three weeks, the teams will meet in Atlanta and we will see if the Falcons “gave” away the game or if the Saints were able to use their talent to win.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.