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November 4, 2009

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Home » Sports » American Football

Saints tie mark for best start

THE New Orleans Saints tied a franchise-record 7-0 start to the season by holding off a spirited challenge from the Atlanta Falcons in a 35-27 victory on Monday.

Drew Brees threw for 308 yards and two scores while capping an 81-yard drive with a one-yard TD toss to running back Pierre Thomas that gave the hosts a 35-24 cushion with 3:03 remaining.

Thomas also had a rushing touchdown to go with 91 yards on the ground to help the Saints survive a late rally.

Atlanta kicker Jason Elam made a 40-yard field goal with 28 seconds left and the Falcons recovered an onside kick to set up a final "Hail Mary" play which was intercepted by the Saints defense.

"It wasn't perfect, it wasn't clean," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said of the win. "I'm proud of our players, responding the way they did."

Michael Turner steadied the Falcons (4-3) with 151 yards rushing and a score but with his team mounting a charge trailing 24-28 quarterback Matt Ryan was intercepted by Tracy Porter when the visitors were on the Saints' 10-yard line.

New Orleans started the game badly and fell 0-7 behind on Turner's 21-yard run and then 14-7 when Atlanta defensive lineman Kroy Biermann recovered a Brees fumble and ran it in for a four-yard score with 2:14 left in the first.

However, the potent Saints registered 21 straight points to take a 28-14 lead at halftime.

Jabari Greer capped the spurt with 42 seconds left in the second where he returned an interception 48 yards for a score, the team's fifth touchdown from an interception this campaign, tying a single-season franchise mark set in 1998.


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