NFL: Devonta Freeman practically wore out the Superdome turf with one long gain after another, Tevin Coleman wouldn’t be denied near the goal line and the host New Orleans Saints hardly looked like the team that made an emotional homecoming nearly 10 years ago to the day.
Coleman rushed for three touchdowns, Matt Ryan passed for two TDs and Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards for a score to help Atlanta beat the winless Saints 45-32 on Monday night.
“It was real fun. Everybody was doing their job and everybody was playing for each other,” Coleman said. “Everything clicked, and we got it done. It’s a real big win for us to beat this team here.”
The game coincided with New Orleans’ celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Saints’ memorable return to the Superdome on Sept. 25, 2006, 13 months after Hurricane Katrina.
The Saints’ depleted defense struggled to slow Freeman, who rushed for 152 yards and caught five passes for 55 yards.
“We have to stop the run better,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “They were over 200 yards in situations where you knew the run was coming, even at the end of the game.”
A cruel irony for the Saints was the way they lost the early momentum on – of all plays – a Falcons punt. A decade earlier, the Saints seized the early momentum on Steve Gleason’s punt block that was recovered for a touchdown.
New Orleans had raced to a 7-0 lead and forced a punt on a sack, only to turn the ball over when punt returner Tommylee Lewis was run into by teammate De’Vante Harris. After the collision knocked Lewis to the ground, the ball came down right near him. As it bounced up, Harris tried to grab it, but it bounced away from him. It was recovered by Atlanta on the 11, setting up Coleman’s first TD.
Chargers’ Te’o out for season with Achilles
NFL roundup: Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o will miss the rest of the season with a torn left Achilles tendon.
Skins’ Hall out for season: Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall will miss the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his right knee.
Hardy arrested: Former Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy, who remains unsigned after a tumultuous 2015 season revolving around his domestic violence case in North Carolina, has been arrested on a cocaine possession charge in Texas.
49ers’ Davis retires again: 49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis has once again retired from the NFL.
Davis sat out last year in part because of concerns over a concussion before deciding to return to the Niners this summer. He suffered another concussion in practice on Sept. 15 and has not played since before the team announced his retirement.
Pro scouts given more access: NFL scouts will get more access to college underclassmen under an agreement announced between the NFL and American Football Coaches Association.
Schools will be able designate five underclassmen for special eligibility after they have completed their second season of college football. NFL teams can scout them similarly to the way the league evaluates in their senior seasons.
Schools can petition the NFL to have more than five underclassmen given special eligibility.
Starting in February 2017, some players will be permitted to participate in school pro scouting days a year before they would be permitted to apply for early entry into the draft.
Bubba to coach, not play at Ryder Cup
MISCELLANY: U.S. captain Davis Love III has added Bubba Watson to the Ryder Cup team as a fifth vice captain.
That after the two-time Masters champion, ranked No. 7 in the world, failed to qualify as a player on points or persuade Love to choose him with one of four captain’s picks. Watson had played on the last three U.S. teams.
Mo Williams retires: Guard Mo Williams has informed the Cavaliers he’s officially retired.
Despite Williams’ retirement and losing Matthew Dellavedova as a free agent, Cavs GM David Griffin said the team is “comfortable” at point guard with rookie Kay Felder backing up Kyrie Irving.
Griffin said the team has made “an incredibly competitive and aggressive offer” to re-signing free agent J.R. Smith.
Zika concerns move tourney: This year’s Puerto Rico Tipoff will move to Orlando, Florida, due to concerns about Zika virus on the island.
Kings’ Gaborik out 8 weeks: Los Angeles forward Marian Gaborik is leaving the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto and will be out eight weeks because of a foot injury.
The Europeans will miss the high-scoring Slovakian on Tuesday in Game 1 of a best-of-3 series against Canada.
Florida hires Stricklin as A.D.: A person familiar with the search says Florida has hired Mississippi State’s Scott Stricklin as athletic director.
Stricklin replaces Jeremy Foley, one of the most tenured sports executives in the country. Foley is retiring after 40 years with the Gators, the last 25 in charge of the athletic program.
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