FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Coach Mike Smith is giving the Atlanta Falcons four days off following a victory over the rival New Orleans Saints.
When they return to practice on Tuesday, Smith will have the offense focus hard on correcting third-down problems that could have cost them against the Saints.
Atlanta, one of the NFL's most efficient offenses in third-down efficiency, converted none of its first nine chances before Julio Jones' fourth-quarter catch set up Matt Bryant's field goal and the game's final points.
The Falcons (11-1) started with a strong rushing attack and finished with five runs over 12 yards.
During the middle of the game, however, Atlanta fell flat. Pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan, coverage on Roddy White and a sluggish run game stalled the offense.
ATLANTA (AP) - The Braves have traded Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels for former closer Jordan Walden.
The 26-year-old Hanson set a career high with 13 wins this year but his 4.48 ERA also was a career worst. The right-hander was 45-32 in four seasons with the Braves.
Walden had 32 saves in 2011, then lost his closer's role to Ernesto Frieri and was 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and one save this year. He became superfluous when the Angels agreed this week to a $3.5 million, one-year contract with Ryan Madson.
Walden gives Atlanta another power arm for its bullpen. His fastball has been closed at close to 100 mph, and he had 48 strikeouts in 39 innings this year.
Atlanta also claimed right-hander David Carpenter off waivers from Boston.
ATLANTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Despite a hard fought battle in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, Georgia fell to Alabama, 32-28.
It's the second straight conference title game loss for the Bulldogs.
Down by four with less than a minute to go, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray's pass was tipped and intercepted by Alabama's Dee Milliner. The game appeared to be all but over.
"When the pick happened, all your breath goes out," says UGA senior linebacker, Christian Robinson. "You just think, 'It's gone.' And then, we saw the instant replay and realize we have a chance."
Replay showed the ball hit the ground, and Murray went to work through the air.
The league's most efficient passer completed throws for 15 yards, 23 yards and 26 yards to get down to the Alabama 8-yard line.
With no timeouts left and 15 seconds on the clock, Georgia drew up fade route to the endzone, but Murray's pass was tipped. Chris Conley came down with it, and time expired.
"It still baffles me what happened," says UGA junior quarterback Aaron Murray. "But it got tipped, and it kind of stinks."
"We had the opportunity," says UGA junior linebacker, Jarvis Jones. "We came up short on a lot of plays that, that could have capitalized the game. But, I mean, I think our coaches do a great job of just preparing us and putting us in situations to win, and we'll get back in the film, get back to the basics, and just watch the things we need to improve on. We'll get better, and come bowl game time, we'll be ready."
"We still got one more game," says UGA freshman tailback, Todd Gurley. "I mean, (it) might not be the game that we wanted to go to, but whoever we play, we're ready."
When the confetti finished falling at the Georgia Dome, it was Alabama who came out on top. The Crimson Tide will head to sunny Miami now to take on Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game on January 7th.
As for Georgia, the Dawgs will also head to the Sunshine State, where they'll take on Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day.