NEW ORLEANS -- The Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints formed a unity circle at midfield of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before Monday's game in response to the recent police shootings.

The Falcons and Saints are bitter NFC South rivals, but ESPN's Monday Night Football commentators said the teams' coaches and quarterbacks communicated before the game, deciding they wanted to respect the national anthem and show a sign of unity.

After the national anthem, both teams circled around the Saints logo at midfield, joined hands and recognized a moment of silence. It was a nod to the recent protests after police shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, N.C.

There have been several protests recently during the national anthem with athletes sitting, kneeling or putting their fists in the air during the anthem. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to protest during the NFL Preseason.

PHOTOS | Atlanta Falcons