Saints Continue Dominance of Falcons, 23-17
New Orleans Saints rookie Kenny Vaccaro tipped a fourth down pass in the final seconds that was intercepted by Roman Harper, preserving the Saints' 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the 2013 season opener.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan had driven the Falcons the length of the field, but faced fourth and goal from the three yard line. Ryan was under a heavy rush when he threw for TE Tony Gonzales. But Vaccaro got a hand on the ball and Harper came down with possession to ice the win.
The Saints led 13-10 at the half, but Atlanta took the lead on a touchdown pass from Ryan to Julio Jones on the opening drive after the half. But the Saints came right back and Drew Brees connected with TE Jimmy Graham on a seven yard score and the Saints never trailed again.
Garrett Hartley's 23 yard field goal with just over three minutes left increased the lead to six points and forced the Falcons to score a touchdown to win.
They came up three yards short.
The game belonged to the Saints defense, which forced two turnovers, with Harper being a part of both. He jarred the ball loose from Jones in the second quarter and recovered the fumble, leading to Brees' 25 yard scoring strike to Marcus Colston, which tied the game at 10-10.
The Saints "D", under first year co-ordinator Rob Ryan, allowed Altanta 367 yards of offense and just 3-11 on third down. Ryan was 25-38 for 279 yards. He was sacked three times. Brees completed 26-35 for 341 yards. He was intercepted once.