ATLANTA - Juran Bolden was one of the happier players in the locker room after the Atlanta Falcons' 24-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Bolden's interception of Aaron Brooks was timed perfectly. The Saints, who entered with an NFL-high 32-point scoring average, were on the move. On New Orleans' two previous possessions, Brooks and outspoken receiver Joe Horn had hooked up on two passes to burn Bolden, the Falcons' nickel cornerback, for 120 yards and one touchdown.
Horn's first catch covered 63 yards and set up the 35-yard field goal that cut the Atlanta lead to 14-3. The Falcons led 17-3 when Brooks and Horn connected over the middle on fourth-and-one for a 57-yard touchdown.
Bolden had unwisely gone for the interception and, despite getting a finger on the ball, was embarrassed.
"On fourth down, you've got to make sure you knock the ball down or you tackle him so you won't give up no plays," Bolden said. "It was ugly in my case, but we still got a win out of it."
BIG CROWD: The announced sellout of 70,382 was the second-largest crowd in Falcons history and only 71 short of the record set last year against the Dallas Cowboys.
"This is what the guys wanted," said running back Warrick Dunn, who left Tampa Bay as a free agent and signed with the Falcons in March. "This is what Mr. (Arthur) Blank wanted. This is why I came here to help this football team get there. The fans are definitely a big part of that."
IRON MAN GIVES IN: Starting Falcons receiver Shawn Jefferson had a sprained left foot that ended his streak of 103 games played. Jefferson, a 12-year veteran from Jacksonville who had answered the bell in 196 of a possible 197 career games, was upset as he approached his replacement, Trevor Gaylor, before the game.
"He came up to me with a couple of tears in his eye and told me he wouldn't be able to go," Gaylor said. "He just wanted me to know he had a lot of confidence in me and that I could do the job."
DUCKETT DOCKET: Rookie running back T.J. Duckett dressed for the first time since spraining his left ankle against Baltimore two weeks ago, but he was held out for the third time in four weeks.
"We were planning on playing him, but Warrick was running so well, and we just felt like as long as he was doing that we'd give him some rest," coach Dan Reeves said. "I think we were fortunate to get out of the game where Warrick did a fantastic job, and T.J. is going to be a lot healthier next week because he didn't have to play."