Falcons Defeat Saints In Overtime, 37-34
Khiry Robinson #29 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after a touchdown in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on September 7, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The New Orleans Saints opened up their 2014 regular season schedule on a sour note on Sunday afternoon, falling to the Atlanta Falcons, 37-34, in overtime, in an NFC South shootout at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, a 51-yard field goal at the end of regulation to end the game into overtime, and a 52-yard field in overtime to win it for the Falcons.
The game turned out to be an offensive showcase, with 71 points scored, along with 1,074 yards of total offense, including 771 combines passing yards, in the seventh overtime game in the all-time series between the two franchises.
The win is the first in the series by Falcons since 2012, their second win over the Saints in the last eight games, and only their fourth in 17 tries since quarterback Drew Brees joined the Saints back in 2006.
New Orleans took the opening kickoff, and took a 3-0 lead on a 31-yard field goal by Shayne Graham, which concluded a 9-play, 67-yard drive, that took 4:27 off of the clock.
Graham converted on another field goal attempt on the next New Orleans possession, this one from 50 yards away, which completed a 10-play, 28-yard drive, to give the Saints a 6-0 advantage at the 4:39 mark of the initial frame.
Atlanta was driving late in the first quarter, but Julio Jones fumbled the football inside the 10-yard line, and was recovered by New Orleans in the end zone, as the Saints continued to cling to that 6-0 lead after the end of the first period.
The Saints converted that turnover into a score early in the second quarter, when Khiry Robinson capped off 9-play, 80-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run, giving them 13-unanswered points, and a 3-0 lead at the 11:46 mark of the second period.
The Falcons scored their first points of the game at the 4:15 mark of the second period, when Matt Ryan threw a short 2-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White, capping off 14-play, 80-yard drive, to cut the New Orleans lead to 13-7.
The Saints got their 13-point lead back with only :20 remaining in the half, when Brees thew a 3-yard scoring strike to rookie Brandin Cooks, culminating a 9-play, 80-yard drive, giving them a 20-7 lead.
The Falcons were able to score the last points of the half however, gaining 58 yards on two pass plays, in :16, setting up Bryant for a 40-yard field goal, which he put through the uprights, capping off a 3-play, 58-yard drive as time expired in the half, to make the score 20-10, Saints, at halftime.
New Orleans outgained Atlanta, in terms of total yards in the first half, 260-234, including, a 79-49 edge on the ground, while the Falcons held a slim 185-181 passing yardage advantage at the break.
The Saints were led by quarterback Drew Brees in the first half, who completed 19-of-24 passes for 181 yards, along with a touchdown over the first 30 minutes.
For the Falcons, Ryan completed 13-of-16 passes in the initial half for 185 yards, along with a touchdown.
Atlanta opened up the second half by going a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took 5:38 off the clock, and trimmed the New Orleans lead to 20-17 when Ryan threw a short 1-yard touchdown pass to Levine Toilolo at the 9:22 mark of the third quarter.
New Orleans was driving late in the third quarter, with the football at the Atlanta 14-yard line, when Brees threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Robert McClain, ending the rally.
The Falcons turned that turnover into points, when Ryan threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this one to Antoine Smith, from 54 yards out, to put an exclamation point on a 5-play, 80-yard drive, and gave them their first lead of the afternoon, 24-20, at the :21 mark of the third period.
The Saints regained the lead at the 8:46 of the fourth quarter, when Mark Ingram finished off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving them a 27-24 advantage at the 8:46 mark of the final period.
Atlanta took the lead back at the 2:50 mark, when Jacquizz Rodgers scored on a 17-yard run, capping off a 8-play, 94-yard drive, that gave them a 31-27 advantage.
New Orleans got the football back and went right down the field, scoring in only 1:30, when Ingram ran in his second touchdown of the afternoon, this one from 3 yards away, to end an 8-play, 71-yard drive, giving the Saints a 34-31 lead with 1:20 to go.
The Falcons drove the football to the the New Orleans 33-yard line, setting up Bryant for a 51-yard field goal attempt, which he nailed, as time expired, concluding an 8-play, 47-yard drive, to send the game into overtime.
At the end of regulation, the Falcons outgained the Saints, in terms of total yards, 564-459.
New Orleans got the football first in the overtime period,but only two into the drive turned the football over, when Marques Colston fumbled, giving Atlanta the football at the New Orleans 38-yard line.
The Falcons picked up four yards on three plays, setting up Bryant for the potential game-winning field goal from 51 yards away, which he nailed, to give Atlanta the dramatic 3-point win.
The Falcons outgained the Saints, in terms of total yards, 568-472, including 445-333 advantage through the air, while New Orleans finished with a 139-123 edge on the ground.
Brees led the way in a losing cause for the Saints, completing 29-of-42 passes for 333 yards, along with one touchdown and one interception, while Ingram accumulated 60 rushing yards, including two touchdowns, on 13 carries, and Jimmy Graham caught eight passes for 82 yards.
For the victorious Falcons, Ryan completed 31-of-43 passes for 448 yards and three touchdowns, while Steven Jackson recorded 52 rushing yards on 12 carries, and Julio Jones totaled seven receptions for 116 yards.
With the victory, Atlanta is now 1-0 on the season, while New Orleans fell to 0-1.
The Saints are on the road again next week, when they travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns, while the Falcons are also on the road, to take on the Cincinnati Bengals.