New Orleans -- The start was sloppy. The finish was thrilling. But in the end, the Saints did what they do under Sean Payton: beat the Falcons.
That fact is undisputable. Since taking over in 2006, Payton is 12-3 against Atlanta (11-2 if you don't count 2012). That's a remarkable run against his biggest rival.
That win/loss record is dominant but the games rarely are. Maybe that's what makes it even more impressive for Payton and sweeter for Saints fans. Every year the games come down to the wire and every year the Saints seem to be on the right side of the scoreboard.
Sunday was the latest example. That Saints' performance was far from perfect.The first quarter was atrocious and the running game, despite their many attempts, was mostly ineffective.
It didn't matter. When a play needed to be made, they made it. Like when Roman Harper recovered a Julio Jones fumble. Or when the Falcons had jumped out to a 17-13 lead, Drew Brees hit Darren Sproles on 3rd & 6 for 22 yards. Six plays later Jimmy Graham provided the winning points with a seven-yard touchdown grab.
And of course the Saints defense, the same Saints defense was a walking punchline last year and all offseason, sealed the game with a déjà vu'–type goal line stand.
"It was the difference between winning and losing," a relieved Payton said afterward in regards to the stand.
Indeed it was. As they say that difference is a fine line in the NFL. And with Payton on the sideline, the Saints always seem to find themselves on the right side of that line.
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