FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons coach Dan Quinn loved watching his offense, defense and special teams make enough plays to win at New Orleans.
That might sound obvious, but Quinn tries to keep his goals simple.
After losing the opener to Tampa Bay and scratching out a victory at Oakland, the Falcons are coming off their most complete game since handing Carolina its only regular-season loss last December.
Monday’s 45-32 victory had a little bit of everything.
“Honestly that’s what we’ve been trying to build where all three units have a hand in winning,” Quinn said Tuesday.
“That was special teams on the punt return, defensively getting the turnovers and scoring with it, then offensively getting so many guys in on the attack to contribute.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan played one of his best games since the Falcons previously made the playoffs in 2012, completing passes to eight different receivers, throwing no interceptions and using a silent snap count to overcome the noise in the Superdome.
Running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combined for 194 yards rushing — 296 yards overall — and four touchdowns.
Their superlatives overshadowed the lack of production of All-Pro receiver Julio Jones, who was targeted seven times but caught just one pass for 16 yards. Limited by a sore ankle and calf through the first three games, Jones leads the Falcons with 188 yards receiving, but is just third on the team with 10 catches.
“Make no mistake — he is our feature guy,” Quinn said. “There are certain coverages that go his way and opportunities come for some other players. He knows that.”
As the Falcons (2-1) prepare to host Carolina (1-2) on Sunday, Jones is expected to be healthy enough to fully participate in practice. It’s just the fourth week of the season, so Quinn isn’t concerned about Jones’ numbers.
“I wouldn’t sleep on him not having many games on him having (low) numbers,” Quinn said. “There are things he did that definitely didn’t show up in the stat sheet, but I promise you he was a factor.”
Defensively, Atlanta had seven pass breakups and sacked Drew Brees twice. Deion Jones returned an interception 90 yards to put the Falcons up 20 points early in the fourth quarter.
But the Saints picked up at least 13 yards on seven plays in the second half. Brees too often had enough time to set his feet and make accurate throws. Running back Mark Ingram picked up too many yards after initial contact.
Quinn is most concerned about the high number of big-yardage plays the Falcons are giving up.
“I do believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “I do believe in the players we have. I just know we’ll play like we’re capable of. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I do remember it’s a process we’re building and we have some new parts in here.”
Notes: Ryan hurt his left thumb in the fourth quarter, but Quinn doesn’t expect him to be limited when the team returns to practice Wednesday. … WR Mohamed Sanu, who hurt his shoulder in the first half and didn’t return, will likely be limited this week. … Quinn said rookie LB De’Vondre Campbell, out with an ankle injury since Week 1, will run on the side, but Quinn said it was too early to tell if he will be ready to play.