New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees threw for 357 yards and two
touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints' much-maligned defense came up with a
huge stop late to preserve a 23-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons that gave
head coach Sean Payton a triumphant return to the sidelines.
A unit that surrendered an NFL-record 7,042 total yards last season held
Atlanta's potent offense scoreless over its final four drives. the last of
which ended when Roman Harper intercepted Matt Ryan in the end zone on 4th-
and-goal with 43 seconds left.
Brees did his part as well, completing 26-of-35 throws that included a 7-yard
connection with Jimmy Graham that put New Orleans (1-0) up 20-17 with 6:22
left in the third quarter.
Darren Sproles hauled in six of Brees' passes for 88 yards, while Marques
Colston had five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown to help make Payton a
winner in his first game back from a year-long suspension for his involvement
in the Saints' well-publicized bounty scandal.
Ryan finished with 304 yards on 25-of-38 passing with two touchdowns along
with the pivotal pick. Julio Jones had seven receptions totaling 76 yards and
a touchdown for Atlanta (0-1), with Harry Douglas compiling 93 yards on four
grabs in the loss.