Saints rally past Falcons in season opener

Benny Greenspan, Staff Reporter

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QB Jameis Winston was 23/34 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. (Matthew Tate)

In their first game of the regular season, the New Orleans Saints defeated their divisional rival, the Atlanta Falcons, in a thrilling fashion this past Sunday, winning 27-26. Despite coming in as heavy favorites, Jameis Winston and company needed a remarkable comeback in order to fend off their division rival and start the season 1-0. 

Utilizing their ultimate flex option in Taysom Hill, who single handedly drove the team 68 yards down the field, the Saints scored the first touchdown of the game, going up 7-3 with 5:44 left in the first quarter

However, the Saints offense would struggle after that, with a sloppy fumble by Mark Ingram and a missed field goal by kicker Will Lutz, who played his first regular season game since missing all of last season with a core muscle injury. This led the Saints to find themselves down 26-10 with 12:41 left in the fourth quarter

Down 16 in the fourth quarter, the Saints needed a spark, and they found it with their two Pro Bowl receivers. Jarvis Landry led the team with 7 receptions and 114 yards on the game, but it was Michael Thomas, also playing his first regular season game in over a year, that connected with Winston for two straight touchdowns. After a failed second two point conversion, the Saints were down 26-24 with 3:38 left in the game

The Saints’ defense, which looked strong throughout the whole game forcing two fumbles, stepped up when it mattered most and forced the Falcons to punt the ball back to the Saints’ offense with 48 seconds remaining. After a 40-yard pass downfield to Jarvis Landry, the Saints set Wil Lutz up for a 51-yard field goal to take the lead, which he converted. 

While both the New Orleans offense and defense stepped up in order for the Saints to take the lead, it was the special teams unit that closed out the game, blocking a 63-yard attempt from Falcons’ kicker, Younghoe Koo.

The Saints will return to New Orleans for their first home game of the season, facing off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 18 at 12 p.m. CST.

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