ATLANTA (AP) — Taysom Hill blocked a punt to set up his 3-yard touchdown catch, later scored on a 30-yard run and the New Orleans Saints clinched their third straight NFC South title by beating the Atlanta Falcons 26-18 on Thursday night.
With Julio Jones inactive due to a shoulder injury, the Falcons had too little offense to keep pace with Drew Brees and the Saints. Atlanta recovered two onside kicks in the closing minutes, including one with 1:54 remaining, to make things interesting.
Matt Ryan was sacked by Cameron Jordan on a fourth-down play from the New Orleans 44 with 38 seconds remaining. Ryan was sacked nine times, including four by Jordan.
The Saints (10-2) atoned for their 26-9 home loss to the Falcons on Nov. 10. It was the Saints’ only loss in their last 10 games.
The versatile Hill blocked Ryan Allen’s punt to end Atlanta’s first possession. The Saints took over at the Falcons 30, and four plays later Hill scored his first touchdown on the short pass from Brees.
Hill took a direct snap and ran 30 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season to give New Orleans a 17-6 lead late in the first half.
The disappointing Falcons (3-9) solidified their hold on last place in the division with their second straight home loss.