After winning their first two games for the second consecutive season for the first time in franchise history, the New Orleans Saints (2-0) will open up their six-game 2010 NFC South slate with two consecutive home contests against divisional opponents, starting with a matchup against the Atlanta Falcons (1-1). Kickoff at the Louisiana Superdome is set for Noon on Sunday.
New Orleans is coming off a 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night that was not decided until K Garrett Hartley kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired. It took a combination of key plays on offense, defense and special teams for the Saints to leave the den of their former NFC West rivals with a win. Four turnovers forced by the defensive and special teams units served as the difference-maker.
The Saints were able to jump out to an early 9-0 first quarter lead compliments of a safety and a six-yard touchdown pass from QB Drew Brees to RB Reggie Bush on their first possession.
San Francisco chipped away at the lead, eventually getting up in front 14-9 midway through the third quarter. Following that San Francisco score though, Brees engineered a ten-play, 61-yard drive that was capped by a three-yard touchdown pass to TE David Thomas to put the Saints up 16-14.
The Saints then forced the 49ers to punt after three unsuccessful downs and Bush returned the kick 43 yards to set up the first of Hartley's three fourth quarter field goals.
CB Tracy Porter intercepted 49ers QB Alex Smith on their next drive and the Saints added another field goal after WR Courtney Roby recovered a fumble on a punt return in the red zone, to go up 22-14.
San Francisco would tie the score on an eight-play, 82-yard drive that ended with 49ers Frank Gore rushing for a seven-yard touchdown and Smith finding 49ers TE Vernon Davis for the two point conversion.
However, Brees took full advantage of every second of the 1:19 left in the contest and completed four-of-six passes before Hartley launched his successful field goal as time expired.
New Orleans is currently tied for first place in the NFC South with Tampa Bay and will be dealing with a short week of preparation and recovery following the Monday night win in San Francisco and long flight home. Atlanta is one game behind the Saints and Buccaneers following a 41-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
The Falcons hold a 44-37 edge in the all-time series, with the Saints holding a 17-16 lead in games played in the Superdome. The Saints have faced off against the Falcons more than any other opponent in their history. Since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006, the Saints have won seven of the eight meetings between the two clubs.
IN THE NFC SOUTH THIS WEEK: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) will host the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) and the Carolina Panthers (0-2) will host the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1).
Worth Noting: The Saints will be trying to win their first three games for the seventh time and for the third time since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006...The Saints are tied for second in the NFL in turnover ratio at +5...They've recorded three interceptions, recovered two fumbles and haven't committed a turnover...QB Drew Brees has completed an NFL-best 74.3% of his passes and is third in the league with a 105.2 passer rating...Sunday's comeback was the tenth in the regular season that Brees engineered as a Saint in the fourth quarter or overtime with New Orleans trailing or tied...Sunday's game will be broadcast on FOX (WVUE FOX-8 locally) with Thom Brennaman handling play-by-play and Brian Billick serving as color analyst...The game can be heard throughout the Gulf Coast on the Saints Radio Network (870 AM or 105.3 FM locally) with Jim Henderson handling play-by-play, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the sidelines...A Spanish language broadcast is available on WFNO 830 AM with Emilio Peralta handling play-by-play and Marco Garcia serving as color analyst.