Final Score: New Orleans 23, Atlanta 17

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.