Both teams came into the game with a lot to play for, each trying to stay alive for a possible division championship.
The Saints (10-4) probably are out in the NFC South championship run with the Falcons (12-2) winning on Sunday while Tampa Bay lost. The Saints could still be alive for the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, with a one-game lead over the Giants, who lost to the Eagles 37-31 on Sunday. The Saints play the Falcons on Monday Night Football in the Georgia Dome where the Atlanta quarterback is 19-1 in his past 20 games there.
"Credit Baltimore because in the end, they made more plays than we did," was Saints coach Sean's Payton's take on the game. "It's disappointing and we have to get back to work tomorrow."
Drew Brees finished the day by completing 29 of 46 attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception, Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham caught two of Brees' scoring passes, both in the first half. Brees' third touchdown throw was an incredible tip-toe catch in the left corner of the end zone. Graham caught five passes for 28 yards.
With the Saints trailing 24-17 in the fourth quarter and facing a third and goal at the Ravens' 15, Brees threw a jump ball under pressure to Marques Colston in the corner of the end zone. Colston went up and tipped the ball, and Lance Moore sprinted in to make the catch alongside of the Ravens defenders.
The catch may go down as the NFL's catch of the year. Moore dragged both feet and held onto the ball while falling to complete the catch.
Ravens players said it was 15-year veteran linebacker Ray Lewis who lit the fire under the Ravens, the one that took out the Saints and that cleanses the Ravens after two straight distasteful showings.
Lewis said his speech was about sacrifice. "What are we going to sacrifice now until the rest of the season?" said Lewis, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. "We had our bumps and bruises, but what is everybody willing to sacrifice for one goal? The one goal is to win the Super Bowl. Let's not forget, they were the defending champs, they still are the defending champs until somebody knocks them off.
"To beat them this late in the year when they were peaking and how many games they've won, it just says something about our team. We responded to situations really well."
"Our guys didn't do a lot of talking, but we did some responding," said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, referring to the Saints' "bully mindset" and adding, "I'm proud of the way we responded, and I thought we did it with composure and poise."
Rice ran for 153 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Ravens fourth win in five games and moved them to 10-4 and allowed them to keep a one-game lead for a playoff spot in the AFC.
The Ravens offense was physical with their smash-mouth running game. Their defense was aggressive, putting pressure on Brees.
Chris Ivory wasn't active because of a sore hamstring and the Saints almost abandoned their running game, getting 24 yards. The Ravens pounded the Saints for 204 yards rushing