Atlanta Falcons' dream dashed by New Orleans Saints

The Atlanta Falcons still can't figure out the New Orleans Saints, and it's cost them a shot at an undefeated season.

Matt Ryan threw for 411 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, but a late goal-line stand by the Saints' defense was the difference in a 31-27 Falcons loss.

On NFL Network
NFL Replay
will re-air the New Orleans Saints' 31-27 victory over the Atlanta  Falcons from Week 10 on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. ET.

The Falcons drop to 8-1. The Saints -- left for dead after starting the season 0-4 -- have won four of their last five games to crawl back into the NFC playoff hunt.

"I think we had opportunities today," Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said after the game, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It's not like they came out here and just. ... I feel like we kind of gave it away. We just gave it to them. It wasn't nothing they did. It was want we did in not cashing in on opportunities."

Trailing by four in the game's final minutes, the Falcons marched 79 yards to the Saints' 1, but were unable to crack the end zone from point-blank range on three consecutive plays. On fourth-and-goal from the 2, Ryan's end-zone throw to Roddy White was knocked away by cornerback Jabari Greer.

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Ryan and Drew Brees were on the marquee, but this game became a showcase for two of the NFL's greatest tight ends. Jimmy Graham (nine catches, 146 yards, two touchdowns) was a monster, finding wide-open spaces in the Falcons secondary all afternoon. Tony Gonzalez -- the Mariano Rivera of the tight end position -- was even better, finishing with 11 receptions for 122 yards and two scores.

Neither defense particularly was impressive, but everyone knew this would be a shootout. The Saints were a little bit better, as they almost always seem to be against the Falcons. New Orleans has won 11 of 13 meetings between the teams since 2006.

The Falcons will be fine. They still have the best record in the NFL, and a favorable schedule awaits. The Saints couldn't afford to lose this one. They didn't.

"We play them against in three weeks and we'll be ready," White said. "It will be at the Dome and hopefully we'll beat them that time."

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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