New Orleans Saints
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Saints search for balanced offensive attack
The New Orleans Saints improved from Week 1 to Week 2 and that enabled them to follow a season-opening loss with a win.
But they admit they still have a long way to go as they prepare to face the Falcons in a NFC South showdown on Sunday in Atlanta.
After giving up 48 points in a seven-point loss to Tampa Bay to start the season, the Saints contained the Cleveland offense much better in a 21-18 victory last week. But the Browns gained 116 of their 327 total yards on the final two possessions.
That included a 47-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-5 and a 16-yard sideline completion with eight seconds left that enabled the Browns to try a potential game-tying 52-yard field goal even though they were out of timeouts. Fortunately for New Orleans, Zane Gonzalez missed the kick.
"You're not going to survive those plays against a better team," cornerback Ken Crawley said. "We know that. We've got to be better in those types of situations."
Despite the breakdowns late in the game, the defense overall played significantly better than it did in the opener.
The offense, though, wasn't nearly as effective against the Browns (275 yards) as it was against the Buccaneers (475). Of those 750 yards, only 105 have come from the rushing attack.
"In the first game, obviously we were doing a lot of good things in the passing game so it's not like we couldn't run the ball," quarterback Drew Brees said. "But we kind of got in a situation where we had to score quickly and score a lot.
"This last game, I would say it was not one of our better run running games efficiency wise, but we did have a couple of good ones at the end of the game."
Brees cited an 18-yard run by Alvin Kamara that started the Saints' first touchdown drive and Kamara's 5-yard run that converted a third down and kept alive the second touchdown drive as the Saints scored 15 fourth-quarter points.
"That's definitely something that we recognize and we always talk about balance," Brees said. "We want balance."
SERIES HISTORY: 98th regular-season meeting. Falcons lead series, 51-46. Falcons have a 27-22 edge in Atlanta. The home team won both meetings last season. Atlanta has won three of the last four meetings. The Falcons handed the Saints their largest margin of defeat in franchise history in a 62-7 victory in 1973 in New Orleans. Atlanta also won the only playoff meeting, prevailing 27-20 in 1991 in the Superdome. The Falcons are the Saints' most frequent opponent as the two franchises have been division rivals since 1970.