Saints hold off Falcons to stay undefeated

Michael Tortorich
RB Pierre Thomas eludes a defender en route to a 22-yard touchdown run in the first half to tie the game at 7-7.

NEW ORLEANS - There would be no miracle finish Monday night as the Atlanta Falcons, down by a touchdown and a two-point conversion, had its prayer of a pass intercepted by New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper.

The Saints improved to a 7-0 record as they defeated the Falcons, 35-27, Monday night in the Louisiana Superdome.

The Saints have tied their best start to a season. The team started 7-0 in 1991.

"We did a lot of things well and yet we did a lot of things that made it close at the end," Saints coach Sean Payton said.

"I'm excited to win. I'm excited to win this game and get to 7-0," Payton said.

Saints cornerback Jabari Greer intercepted Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to give New Orleans a 28-14 lead going into the half. Ryan threw three interceptions in the game, including one to cornerback Tracy Porter to thwart a late Falcons scoring threat.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees went 25-of-33 passing for 308 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

In the fourth quarter, Brees threw a short pass to running back Pierre Thomas, who finished with a plunge into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown.

Brees connected with a leaping Marques Colston in the second quarter for an 18-yard touchdown that tied the game at 14-14.

The Saints followed with a rushing score when running back Reggie Bush walked into the end zone on a 1-yard toss left.

Ryan hooked up with wide receiver Roddy White for a 68-yard touchdown in the third quarter to cut the Saints lead to 28-21.

Atlanta kicker Jason Elam tacked on a 25-yard field goal to further close the deficit with 11:33 left in the game.

Thomas scored the first Saints touchdown of the game on a 22-yard run, after the Falcons opened the scoring when running back Michael Turner ran for a 13-yard touchdown.

Turner ran for 151 yards on 20 carries to lead all rushers. Thomas led the Saints with 91 rushing yards, while Mike Bell tallied 49 yards.

Atlanta's defense scored the second touchdown when defensive end Kroy Biermann returned a Brees fumble 4 yards.

"We did a lot of things that will get you beat in games," Payton said. "We were still able to overcome that and get a win."

The Saints will host a second-straight NFC South opponent Sunday at 3 p.m. when they face the Carolina Panthers (3-4).

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes against the Buffalo Bills.