ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons made a statement with a strong running game to take a 7-0 lead over the New Orleans Saints after one quarter Thursday night.
The Falcons gained 71 yards on five straight running plays after opening their first possession with a 9-yard pass from Matt Ryan to tight end Tony Gonzalez. Michael Turner started the spree with a 35-yard run. Jacquizz Rodgers had back-to-back 14-yard gains before Turner stormed in from the 3-yard line.
With his touchdown, Turner snapped a tie with former Falcons receiver Terance Mathis to set the franchise career record with 58 total touchdowns. Turner also has the team record with 57 rushing touchdowns. He caught his first career touchdown pass in Week 4 against Carolina.
Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud intercepted a pass from Drew Brees for Marques Colston in the end zone to end the Saints' first possession.
Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel left the game after aggravating his right shoulder injury. Samuel had been listed as questionable with the injury, and he didn't make it through the Saints' opening drive.
Brees completed a 38-yard pass to Joseph Morgan on a third-down play. Samuel, who was covering Morgan, walked off the field with his right arm kept close to his chest.
The Falcons listed Samuel's status as questionable for the remainder of the game. He was standing on the sideline without his helmet as the quarter ended. Robert McClain took over for Samuel at cornerback.
Atlanta receiver Harry Douglas also was listed as questionable after leaving the game with an ankle injury.
The quarter ended with the Falcons driving again inside the Saints 20.