Playing in front of a sell-out crowd of 72,348 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Saints took out their biggest rival and started the 2013 season with a bang on Sunday.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed 26 of 35 passes for 357 yards and two touchdown passes to lead the Saints to a 23-17 victory against the Falcons.
Brees became the sixth quarterback with 100 multiple-touchdown pass games.
The Falcons scored a touchdown and a field goal on consecutive possessions in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead. Their first score came when quarterback Matt Ryan threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez. The second score gacme on a 23-yard field goal by Matt Bryant.
But the Saints came back with 13 unanswered points to lead 13-10 at halftime. Brees threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston, who became the Saints all-tiime receptions leader. Garrett Hartley also hit two field goals.
The Falcons took a 17-13 lead in the third quarter when Ryan threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to receiver Julio Jones to cap a five-play, 59-yard scoring drive on their first possession of the second half.
But the Saints came back on the ensuing possession and took a 20-17 lead when Brees led the team on a 10-play, 80-yar drive that ended on a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham.
The Saints increased their lead to 23-17 when Hartley hit a 22-yard field goal with 3:12 left in the game.
The Falcons had a chance to take the lead when they drove 77 yards to the Saints' 3-yard line with less than one minute remaining. But Ryan threw an incompletion on a fourth and goal play with 43 seconds left.