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(Sunday, September 26th)
Final Score: Atlanta 27, New Orleans 24 (OT)
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Matt Bryant's 46-yard field goal with 1:55 left in overtime pushed Atlanta to a 27-24 win over New Orleans at the Superdome.
Matt Ryan connected on 19-of-30 throws for 228 yards and two touchdowns and Michael Turner carried 30 times for 114 yards and a score for the Falcons (2-1), who ended a three-game losing streak to the Saints.
Drew Brees completed 30-of-38 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted twice and Lance Moore caught six passes for 149 yards and two scores for the Saints (2-1), who fell to the Falcons for only a second time in the last nine meetings.
Leading 24-21, Atlanta gambled late in the game, going for it and coming up empty on 4th-and-6 from the Saints 37 with just over 3 1/2 minutes to play in regulation.
The Saints took over and faced a fourth down after Chris Ivory was stuffed on 3rd-and-1, but Brees connected with Jeremy Shockey for six yards to keep the drive going with 36 seconds left to go. New Orleans moved to the Falcons 15 before the drive stalled, and Garrett Hartley booted a 32-yard field goal to tie the game with four seconds left.
The Falcons went three-and-out on their first overtime possession before the Saints moved all the way to the Atlanta 11. Hartley then hooked a 29-yard field goal try wide left with just over nine minutes remaining to extend the game.
"No ifs or buts about it, it was clearly my mistake," Harltey said about not connecting on the potential winning kick. "I need to go back to the drawing board. It's the highs and lows of being a kicker. I missed a big kick last year and was able to learn from it. I plan on doing the same thing."
Atlanta took over on its own 20 and methodically moved down the field, relying on four carries from Turner and five from Jason Snelling, including the last four plays. The Falcons moved 52 yards on 12 plays and took seven minutes off the clock to set up the game-winning field goal.
"You've got to fight through adversity to win games in this league," Atlanta head coach Mike Smith said. "They're usually going to come down to seven points or less and I can't tell you how proud I am of every member of our football team. We understand that there are going to be ebbs and flows in a game and perseverance is something that we talk about all the time as a team."
New Orleans got on the board just 3:18 into the contest on a two-yard scoring toss from Brees to Shockey. It capped a three-play drive that was set up by Moore's career-long 72-yard punt return.
Atlanta responded by moving 80 yards in nine plays and tying the game on Ryan's 13-yard scoring strike to Tony Gonzalez. The veteran tight end made a 14-yard and 34-yard grab during the drive, while Turner ran for 13 yards.
On the Saints' ensuing possession, Brees was intercepted on a pass deep down the middle by Brent Grimes, who brought the ball back to midfield. It was the first Saints turnover of the season and the first time that Brees had been picked off since Week 15 last season by the Dallas Cowboys. However, Atlanta couldn't take advantage and was forced to punt.
The Saints struck on their next possession on an 80-yard catch and run by Moore, who grabbed the pass in stride at midfield and went untouched into the end zone with 3 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter.
Thomas DeCoud picked off Brees, who made a sidearm throw as he was falling to the turf, shortly into the second. The Falcons were able to convert the turnover into the tying touchdown, as Turner's one-yard scoring run capped a 19-play, 72-yard drive that chewed 10:39 off the clock. Atlanta converted two fourth-down plays to keep the march going.
It remained a 14-14 game at the break, and on the opening possession of the second half, New Orleans moved to Falcons 32 and decided to go for it on 4th- and-1. But the rookie Ivory fumbled and Atlanta linebacker Mike Peterson recovered at the same spot to thwart the drive.
The visitors then made their way deep into Saints territory, gaining 32 yards on a run by Turner, before Snelling appeared to fumble at the two at the end of a 17-yard rumble up the middle. The play was overturned by review, but the Falcons couldn't punch it in and had to settle for a 23-yard field goal from Bryant. That gave them their first lead at 17-14.
DeCoud muffed a punt that was recovered by the hosts at the Falcons 42 and turned into the go-ahead score with four seconds left in the third. Brees connected with Moore on a 16-yard catch and run to finish off a five-play drive and put New Orleans back on top, 21-17.
The Falcons answered with a touchdown march of their own to go back in front, 24-21, with 9:20 left in the game. Ryan lofted a perfect pass down the right side for a 22-yard score to Roddy White to finish off the nine-play, 80-yard drive. A 25-yard pass interference penalty and a 24-yard completion to White were key plays on the drive.
The Falcons won in New Orleans for the first time since 2002 to end a six-game losing streak there...Gonzalez made eight catches for 110 yards, his fifth straight game against the Saints with five or more grabs...Snelling finished with 62 yards on 14 carries while Turner scored a rushing TD against the Saints for a fifth straight meeting...White snagged five passes for 69 yards...Shockey led the Saints with eight catches, for 78 yards...Pierre Thomas carried nine times for 30 yards and made six catches for 61 yards for the Saints, who were denied their first 3-0 start since 2006...Marques Colston made four catches for 25 yards for New Orleans.
09/27 00:57:50 ET
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