From Comcast SportsNetATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons couldn't do anything offensively.Not to worry.The defense left Drew Brees with egg on his face.Brees threw five interceptions for the first time in his career and, rubbing salt in the wound, the Falcons also ended his NFL-record streak of touchdown passes. The result was a 23-13 victory Thursday night that pushed Atlanta to the brink of a division championship and might have finished off the Saints' fading playoff hopes.The Falcons (11-1) built an early 17-0 lead, then struggled to move the ball. They finished with 283 yards, by far the lowest total allowed this season by a Saints defense that was on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history.But William Moore had two interceptions, and Thomas DeCoud, Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux had one pick apiece. Another by Corey Peters didn't count because of a penalty."That's the first time that's ever happened to me, so that's extremely disappointing," Brees said. "I pride myself on being a good decision-maker and not someone who will be a detriment to the game."The Falcons will clinch the NFC South with a month to go if Tampa Bay loses at Denver on Sunday. The Saints (5-7) need to win out to have any chance, and even that might not be enough to get the defending division champs back to the playoffs."It looks pretty bleak right now," interim coach Joe Vitt said.Brees had thrown a touchdown pass in 54 consecutive games, breaking Johnny Unitas' long-standing record earlier this season. There was an apparent scoring pass to Darren Sproles late in the first half, but it was nullified by a penalty."I didn't realize that until we walked off the field," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "That's an unbelievable streak. Drew Brees is an outstanding quarterback. The way the defense played tonight speaks volumes. The guys had gone out there and thrown touchdown after touchdown game after game after game."After Sproles' TD was wiped off the board, Brees made another huge mistake with New Orleans inside the Atlanta 10, allowing the clock to run out in the first half without at least attempting a field goal.Four days earlier, Brees had two passes picked off and returned for touchdowns in a loss to San Francisco.This one was even worse. He finished 28 of 50 for 341 yards but had a rating of just 37.6, the third-lowest off his career."I feel we have one of the best secondaries in the NFL," Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson said, "and I think we came out and showed that."When the Saints arrived in Atlanta, their bus was pelted by eggs at the airport, epitomizing the long rivalry between the teams. New Orleans had dominated in recent years, winning four in a row and 11 of 13.This time, Michael Turner scored on Atlanta's opening possession, Tony Gonzalez hauled in a touchdown pass from Matt Ryan, and Matt Bryant booted three field goals, including a 55-yarder.The defense did the rest."We got the monkey off our back," DeCoud said.After winning so many close games, the Falcons started this one as if they were intent on routing the only team to beat them this season. New Orleans knocked off Atlanta 31-27 at the Superdome on Nov. 11, the bright spot in a tumultuous year that was marred by a bounty scandal and a season-long suspension for coach Sean Payton.Ryan completed a pass on the first play from scrimmage before turning it over to a running game that has struggled most of the season. Turner burst around right end for a 35-yard gain. Jacquizz Rodgers broke off two straight 14-yard gains. Finally, it was Turner going in standing from 3 yards out, giving Atlanta a quick 7-0 lead.That was Turner's 58th touchdown in five seasons with the Falcons, breaking the team record he had shared with Terance Mathis.Atlanta struck again in the opening minute of the second period. Julio Jones hauled in an 18-yard throw from Ryan, setting up a 17-yard touchdown pass to Gonzalez in the back of the end zone. He beat former teammate Curtis Lofton; maybe as a sign of respect, Gonzo just flipped the ball over the crossbar instead of his customary basketball dunk.Brees' second interception, this one a sloppy pass behind running Chris Ivory that deflected into the arms of Weatherspoon, set up Bryant's 45-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead.Then, suddenly, the game completely changed.For the rest of the second quarter and most of the third, the Saints totally dominated. Mark Ingram scored on a 1-yard run, capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive, and New Orleans should have tacked on more points at the end of the half. Brees made a rookie-like mistake with 12 seconds remaining, dumping a pass over the middle to Sproles with no timeouts. He was wrapped up at the Atlanta 3 and the clock ran out before the Saints could spike the ball."Honestly, I thought we had more time than we did," Brees said. "The last time I remember, we had 17 seconds. ... But it was down to 7 when I looked up after the completion. That wasn't enough time to get the spike. That's on me."But New Orleans got the ball to start the second half, and Brees went back to work. This time, he made a couple of nifty moves to avoid sacks, completing six passes on an 83-yard drive consuming 15 plays and more than 6 12 minutes. But the Falcons held again, forcing Garrett Hartley to boot a 21-yard field goal that cut it to 17-10.Hartley connected again from much farther out on the Saints' next possession, a 52-yarder that brought New Orleans even closer.The Falcons, meanwhile, failed to pick up a first down on five straight possessions, a stretch in which the Saints had a 289-30 lead in total yards and a staggering 18 first downs.But the Atlanta defense kept coming through when it counted.Late in the third, Brees rolled to his right and threw over the middle. Moore stepped in front of the receiver and returned it to the New Orleans 16. Ryan connected on first-down throws to Gonzalez and Roddy White to set up Bryant for a 29-yarder that extended the lead back to a touchdown.NOTES:Brees had two previous games with four interceptions. ... This was Brees' lowest-rated game since joining the Saints in 2006. With San Diego, he turned in a 35.7 at Washington in 2005 and a 26.8 at Chicago in 2003. ... Turner ran 12 times for 83 yards. ... Lance Moore of the Saints hauled in 11 passes for 123 yards.
ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio gives his players Monday off. Tuesday is generally an in-season rest day, but the Silver and Black get the day after a game to be away from the facility.
“There’s some raw emotion on the day after the game, so I think that helps you maybe teach a little better,” Del Rio said in his Monday press conference. Things need to be taught. That’s one of the biggest benefits to the structure.”
Del Rio called this a "miserable Monday," where his team will be widely criticized for a disatrous 27-10 loss to Washington.
They’ll spend on more day reviewing it during what Del Rio dubs “Tell the Truth Tuesday." It won't be terribly fun, especially after getting outplayed and outcoached.
It’s a day for corrections, development and one last look back before pouring focus forward the Denver Broncos.
The Washington loss only counts as one. It can become two if that game’s hangover lasts all week. Del Rio is good keeping his players locked on the next task.
He’ll also have to keep them from pressing like they did in Washington.
“We were really looking for that spark, probably pressing early in the game,” Del Rio said. “Offensively, we got out of rhythm. We threw, in the first four drives, two picks and two three-and-outs. We weren’t in rhythm, obviously. They executed. It really wasn’t anything overwhelming. They played some solid, basic coverage and we didn’t execute and they did. It’s just one of those days. It’s an opportunity to learn. Recognize what went wrong.”
Explaining what went awry will be key this Tuesday. There was a lot. Quarterback Derek Carr tried to put the team on his back, to no avail. Carr had a rare dud, and took full responsibility for the loss after the game.
“That’s good for all of us,” Del Rio said. “To me, that’s what we need to do. It starts with me, obviously there are a lot of things that each guy can look at and say ‘this is what I can do better.’ That’s what I want. I want us to reflect inward and see how we can do things ourselves better and then pull together as a team. Stick together, pull together and go forward. That’s what you do.”
Keeping an eye on Crabtree
Receiver Michael Crabtree took a big hit to the chest from Montae Nicholson on Sunday night and did not return to the game. That leaves his availability in some question.
“We’ll take a close look at him and make sure there’s nothing significant going on,” Del Rio said. “I know the doctors cleared for him to travel with us coming back which was good. He took a good shot. It was a clean hit, a good shot. Crab’s a tough guy so I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”
Raiders lead running back Marshawn Lynch only touched the ball seven times at Washington. He had six carries for 18 yards and an eight-yard catch. That isn’t enough for this Raiders offense to function well, but Sunday was a unique circumstance. The Raiders fell behind early and couldn’t sustain drives.
“When you have as many three-and-outs and you only take 50 snaps of offense, you can talk about all the things that you left on the drawing board that you would have liked to have gotten to,” Del Rio said. “Certainly, there was a lot of offense that we had designed to get to, including touches for him, but 0-for-11 on third down says all you need to know. When you’re talking about, does your running back get a chance to run it as much as you’d like, when you’re 0-for-11 on third down you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities anywhere with your offense.”
OAKLAND -- Easing into a seat for an interview a half hour after the Warriors finished practice Monday, Draymond Green responded to the first six questions at decibels barely above a whisper.
There was candor on basketball matters, because there always is with Green, but the power forward’s tone was relatively relaxed.
Not until the next several questions, all related to America’s polarizing sociopolitical climate, did Green’s heart and mind lock into rhythm. Asked if he believes the current wave of protests against inequality will go away soon, his voice picked up volume and conviction.
“I hope not,” Green said. “If it goes away, then we still have a problem. So I hope it’s not going away in a few weeks. Then we’ve missed the message again.
“So, no, I don’t think it’ll be gone away in a few weeks. And I pray that it’s not, because it’s not a problem that can be fixed in a few weeks. So, no, it shouldn’t be gone in a few weeks.”
Green acknowledged that he did not see the demonstrations that were spread across the NFL landscape on Sunday. He was, he said, out shopping and enjoying the day with his children.
He was aware that some teams stayed in the locker room during the anthem, that others knelt on the sidelines and that some linked arms. Being aware was not enough for Green to feel comfortable addressing that aspect.
But he’s very familiar with the subject matter.
“You just have to stand for what you believe in,” Green said during an answer than lasted more than two full minutes. “What everyone else may believe in, you may not believe in.”
Articulating the difference between the life of the athlete and that of a soldier, Green explaining that he has the “utmost respect” for those in the military.
“I just hope that there can be an understanding that this isn’t against the military,” he said. “It’s not to disrespect anything they do. Because I think everyone respects what they do . . . I appreciate everything they do.”
It was evident, however, that Green is on the same page as those pushing for the progress that would make America great, allowing the country to live up to its pledges stated in the constitution and elsewhere.
That’s why he hopes this activism is not a trend but a movement.
“I’m not saying kneeling shouldn’t be gone,” Green said. “But this conversation, trying to make these changes, absolutely not. If it’s gone in a few weeks, we’re screwed.”