Saints start season with 37-34 OT loss to Falcons

The Sean Payton-Drew Brees domination of the Falcons didn't continue on this day. Behind a franchise record passing day by Matt Ryan and the leg of Matt Bryant the Falcons won in overtime 37-34.

Ryan racked up 448 yards passing with 3 touchdowns to out-duel Drew Brees who threw for 333 yards and one score.

Bryant tied the game at the end of regulation with a 51-yard connection, and then won the game in extra time with a 52-yard score.

The Falcons final points were setup by a Marques Colston fumble after a reception. William Moore forced the fumble, and Joplo Bartu recovered.

The Saints started the scoring on their very first possession. Rookie of the year candidate Brandin Cooks hauled in three catches for 48 yards on the opening salvo. A Zach Strief illegal hands to the face penalty killed a shot at a touchdown, so they settled for a Shayne Graham 31-yard field goal.

Graham wasn't finished in the first quarter, he also nailed a 50-yard strike to extend the Who-Dats lead to 6-0.

The Saints big free-agent acquisition this offseason, Jairus Byrd, showed early why he was worth a six-year, $54 million contract. Top receiver Julio Jones looked primed for a touchdown reception, but Byrd ripped out the ball right before paydirt. Corey White recovered the ball in the end zone.

Field goals finally weren't enough for the Saints and Brees. Following the Byrd forced fumble, Sean Payton's offense scored their first touchdown of 2014. Brees orchestrated a near flawless 9-play, 80-yard drive ending with a Khiry Robinson 2-yard touchdown. The sequence was made successful thanks to a heavy dose of Jimmy Graham and Cooks.

Trailing 13-0, the Falcons finally got things going, with no turnover this time around. Matt Ryan and his offense used a time-consuming near eight minute drive to finally get their first points. The 80-yard excursion ended with a Roddy White 2-yard reception from Ryan. The chatty wide recover beat Keenan Lewis on a back-shoulder fade pass. The Dirty Birds trailed 13-7 at that point.

It took the Saints under four minutes to respond. Brees was a flawless 6-6 passing, that ended with a Cooks 3-yard touchdown reception. Cooks ended the first half with 86 yards total. Sixty-eight yards came via receiving, and 18 yards on the ground for the Oregon State product.

Cooks would end the afternoon with 95 total yards.

The Saints led at half 20-10.

Atlanta came out with a flying start in the second half. Ryan completed two passes apiece to Jones and White, but it was Levine Toilolo who sealed the scoring drive. His 1-yard touchdown reception from Ryan closed the Saints lead to only three, 20-17.

Fueled by a Robert McClain interception of Brees, the Falcons struck again in the third quarter. Ryan and his offense took only 2:30 minutes to take their first lead of the game. Antone Smith took a short pass and made a few Saints tacklers miss, finishing in the end zone with a 54-yard score. The connection gave the Falcons 17 unanswered points.

The Saints quickly responded to the Dirty Birds touchdown. Mark Ingram and the running came alive once the Black and Gold crossed the 50. Ingram followed a 19-yard bruising run with a 3-yard touchdown score. The former Crimson Tide star made the score 27-24.

It didn't take too long for the Falcons to recapture the lead. Ryan diced up the Saints D with big passes to: Devin Hester, Jones, and Harry Douglas. It was the run game that finally gave Atlanta back the advantage. Jacquizz Rodgers faked Kenny Vaccaro on a spin move to score a 17-yard touchdown.

The Saints, of course, answered right back. In only a 1:30, Brees' offense responded with an eight play, 71-yard drive. Ingram muscled his way into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown run, his second score of the day.

Ingram's 60-yard rushing total was the best effort on the ground for the Saints.

Bryant would kill all the Saints good vibes with his two field goals to close out the scoring.

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