Saints 23, Falcons 17: Postgame Links, Quotes, and Videos

Who Dat, you say? - Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Time for your Week One Who Dat Say!?! covering the Saints' win over the Falcons in the triumphant return of head coach Sean Payton.

Whodatsay2012_medium

Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints NFL GAMEcenter - NFL.com
Watch video of the game, buy tickets, get stats & depth charts, game highlights, analysis, recap, and discuss with other NFL fans! Includes official game book.

Photo Gallery: Saints-Falcons | sportsnola.com
Parker Waters

New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons Photo Gallery | neworleanssaints.com
Photos taken by Michael C. Hebert.

New Orleans Saints defeat Atlanta Falcons, 23-17, in thrilling opener | NOLA.com
Larry Holder - Saints lead the NFC South after Week 1.

New Orleans Saints knock off Atlanta Falcons 23-17 | neworleanssaints.com
Doug Tatum - The New Orleans Saints defense - much maligned after surrendering a league-record for yardage in 2012 - made the game-saving play in the closing minute as the Saints won in Coach Sean Payton's return, defeating the Atlanta Falcons 23-17 Sunday before 72,348 fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons: Notebook | neworleanssaints.com
With losses by Carolina and Tampa Bay, New Orleans is the only 1-0 team in the NFC South.

New Orleans Saints' Marques Colston sets franchise record for receptions: notebook | NOLA.com
Katherine Terrell - Brodrick Bunkley, Patrick Robinson both seen in walking boots after the game

Late goal-line stand propels Saints to 23-17 win over bitter rival Falcons | wwltv.com
Handwerger - Roman Harper watched defensive back Kenny Vaccaro and hoped the rookie saw the same thing he was seeing as the Falcons’ final play began.

John DeShazier: Rob Ryan's defense stands tall in win over Atlanta Falcons | neworleanssaints.com
Defense came up with two turnovers, three sacks.

John DeShazier: Marques Colston sets receiving record on TD grab | neworleanssaints.com
Veteran receiver makes tough 25-yard TD grab to move out of tie with Eric Martin.

Marques Colston becomes Saints’ all-time leader in receptions | The Advocate
Sheldon Mickles - Needing just one catch to become the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, Saints wide receiver Marques Colston broke the mark in Sunday’s thrilling 23-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

As Wild As The Saints-Falcons Game Was, It Was Typical | wwl.com
Kristian Garic - It was a game that went down to the wire, with the eventual division championship on the line, in just the first game of the season.

New Orleans Saints' defense the difference in win vs. Atlanta Falcons | NOLA.com
Jeff Duncan - Saints come up big when it matters most.

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons: Did You See? | NOLA.com
Katherine Terrell - Safeties force two key turnovers in Saints win.

New Orleans' Saints Drew Brees teaches Atlanta Falcons rookie cornerbacks some tough lessons | NOLA.com
Terrance Harris - Atlanta Falcons rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford put through test against the New Orleans Saints offense.

Sean Payton was back, and so was New Orleans Saints' confidence in 23-17 victory over Atlanta Falcons | NOLA.com
Mike Triplett - Saints weren't perfect on offense or defense, but they repeatedly stepped up in huge moments, including final defensive stop.

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons: grades | NOLA.com
Marcus Carmouche - A look at how they fared.

Game balls for the New Orleans Saints' 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons | NOLA.com
James O'Byrne - Rob Ryan's new defense showed up to play.

Saints: Thumbs up, thumbs down | The Advocate
Pierce Huff

New Orleans Saints' defense makes strong debut for Rob Ryan: Jeff Duncan's Four-point Stance | NOLA.com
A look at four key points.

Saints defense confident, shows it can be better unit than 2012 | wwltv.com
Handwerger - As Atlanta smoothly moved down the field late Sunday afternoon, you would have been forgiven for thinking "not again."

Saints defense does just enough to confuse Atlanta Falcons | The Advocate
Allee-Walsh - Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons entered Sunday’s season opener prepared to play against a patchwork 3-4 defense used by the New Orleans Saints.

Quick Takes: Saints defense shines to beat Falcons | sportsnola.com
Ken Trahan - Call it your basic Saints vs. Falcons game. What else would you expect?

Rapid Reaction: Saints 23, Falcons 17 | ESPN.com
Ashley Fox - My thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 23-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Saints Defeat Falcons 23-17 with Heroic Defensive Stand | thesaintsnation.com
Juge - How many times were we subject to a fun game getting blown to shreds by a pathetic final drive showing by the Saints' defense last year?

Saints vs Falcons: Report Card | Who Dat Dish
Corey Hogue

Mark Romig calls his first game as Saints public address announcer | neworleanssaints.com
Samantha McLain - Mark Romig begins his career as Saints public address announcer.

New Orleans Saints fans focus on football, not NFL's new bag policy | NOLA.com
Rachel Whitaker - NFL's "all-clear" bag rules in effect.

______

From The Falcons' Roost

Falcons come up short in 23-17 loss to Saints | www.ajc.com
D. Orlando Ledbetter - It fact, it was quite gruesome at times, as the Falcons, the defending NFC South champs, lost 23-17 to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Superdome.

Three takes from Falcons-Saints | ajc.com
Jeff Schultz

Offensive minded Payton makes defensive statement | ajc.com
Associated Press - Sean Payton returned to the New Orleans Saints sideline and despite being an offensive-minded coach, he made a defensive statement from the beginning.

Falcons vs. Saints: By the Numbers | atlantafalcons.com
Dan Levak - Take a peek at some of the most telling statistics during the Falcons' 23-17 season-opening loss to their bitter rivals in New Orleans.

Five Things We Learned vs. Saints | atlantafalcons.com
Daniel Cox - They flashed power on offense and some young players came to play, but a few ill-timed misses couldn't be overcome.

_______

Postgame Quotes

c/o neworleanssaints.com

Head Coach Sean Payton

"It was a hard fought win. I just finished talking to the guys and certainly there are a lot of things we will have to clean up, but I thought they played hard. We had a couple of guys who went in when a few guys went down and they handled that pretty well. We kind of knew this game would go back and forth with the momentum and we also thought there was a good chance it would come down to the final possession since it has so many other times. That is a good football team, obviously, that we just played. They were the best (record) last year in the NFC so it was a really good win for us and it will be a good tape for us to coach off us."

On the last defensive stop:

"It was obviously big; it was the difference between winning and losing. We gave up some plays and some yardage and I thought after that first quarter we settled in and mixed things up. That is a real good offense we played. Statistically, looking at the numbers there were a lot of things we did well. I thought our third down defense was good, we held them to 3-of-10. We were 6-of-13 so those are big numbers when you look at drives that were continued or drives that end up resulting in a punt."

On going for it on fourth down in the first quarter to help the defense's confidence:

"It's not about that so much as just something you think about with the players you have, the distance, just a couple thoughts I had in regards to the call, but its just your gut you go with and decide if you are going to do it. It's really just that."

On Roman Harper's fumble recovery:

"The turnovers we thought would be important in the game and certainly they were in this one."

On the pass rush:

"We didn't blitz a lot so we felt it was going to be important with the four-man rush and the three-man rush. We had to at least hurry in and times, Matt (Ryan) is really good at extending plays and I thought that was important.'

On if the emotions felt similar to 2006 season opener:

"No, not at all. You can't make any comparisons. I thought the first quarter was obviously not our best quarter, I thought it was kind of flat. I didn't think it was exceptionally loud. I think it got loud toward the end. It was an important game for us, but that game (2006) was different."

On his assessment of the rookie class:

"A lot of those young guys are going to play so I have to look at the tape, but we're fortunate to have some guys that made this team as rookie free agents, let alone draft picks, so that was pleasing. We'll see how all of them did on the film, but we played a few of them and a few of them were inactive."

On getting the win:

"It was just important to get the first win. You try to compartmentalize each week, each game and we played a good team. It was good to get the win, its good to start the season that way. I thought we fought hard, especially late in the game."

Saints quarterback DREW BREES on what went through his mind during the last play:

"I'm getting ready for two minute. I'm preparing myself to have to go back out there with the amount of time left and one timeout and getting us down there to kick the field goal and win the game. That's what I'm preparing for. They (defense) did an exceptional job all day long. They put pressure on the quarterback all day long and put them in some difficult situations. Our defense was great on third down. They made some big spots when they really needed to. It was very reminiscent of last year (Atlanta game in New Orleans) with the same result. It was a great team win. It seems like this is the typical score range when we play Atlanta. It's in the mid-20's. Both sides of the ball are making plays. It comes down to the turnover battle. We need to score more touchdowns when we get into the red zone. Eight of the last 11 have come down to the last possession of the game. I think we know what to expect when we play these guys. That team is very well coached, disciplined and has a lot of playmakers. So do we and it makes for a great football game"

On Marques Colston breaking the club's receiving record this afternoon:

"I knew that he broke the record today, but I didn't know that it was on that touchdown pass. It was a critical play in the game. He made a great catch and got hit in the middle of the back. He came down with it. That was vintage Marques Colston. He came in here eight years ago as a seventh round draft pick. He didn't know if he was going to make the team coming out of OTA's. After training camp, he was our number one receiver and he hasn't looked back since. He's been the same guy every day. He comes in ready to work. He's a playmaker and I have the utmost confidence in him. He knows the ball is coming to him and he will make that play.

Receiver MARQUES COLSTON on being the leading receiver in Saints history:

"It feels pretty good. Sean (Payton) talked about it all week, but he told me that it would only be special if we got the win. It was great to get a team victory. We are definitely going to enjoy it tonight. Then, we'll be ready to move on to Tampa Bay next week."

On getting the victory:

"It's going to feel real good any time you beat an opponent at home to start the season. It was a great win for us, but there are going to be a lot of things on film that's going to need to be corrected."

Tight end JIMMY GRAHAM on the touchdown reception:

"We knew that we were going to have a shot there. I just happened to be open. It was a good play call at the time."

On the start of the game:

"The (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome is always alive. We were flat. They jumped on us 10-0. We know that we can't do that. They are a great team over there. They have a lot of weapons on offense and defense. We definitely have to have a better start next week.

Linebacker CURTIS LOFTON on the win:

"It feels pretty good. They are a great team. We rose to the occasion and it feels really good to get the win. We just played great together as a team. Now, we are 1-0 in our division."

On the pass rush:

"It makes it difficult for them when you can rush for and get into the passing lanes. The guys up front did a great job today. We got pressure on the quarterback, but it goes hand in hand. The secondary and linebackers had great coverage, which leads to sacks. That's how we play as a defense.

Safety ROMAN HARPER on the two turnovers:

"I'm just trying to take it back to high school and my quarterback days. Overall, it wasn't about me. I just picked up the fumble. I made the play at the end. I need to thank my teammates. They were the ones who knocked the ball out. It was a great way of finishing it off. These games with Atlanta always seem to finish this way. It's exciting and a dogfight. It's going to end up like this sometimes when you have two great teams.

On the last play of the game:

"I had (Tony Gonzalez) outside. He came up bangs me and pushed off, which was respectable. Kenny (Vaccaro) came late and Curtis (Lofton) was on the quarterback. He threw it up like a jump ball. Kenny made a play on the ball and I dove on for the interception. Next thing I know, Malcolm (Jenkins) is on top of me beating on my chest. We were excited. The next thing you know the offense was out there taking a knee. It was a great win."

___

Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith

"This obviously was a game we had a chance to win, but we made far too many mistakes throughout the game. Even there in the end we had a great chance but we just didn't get the outcome we wanted. With that being said, we know it's just the first game of a new year. It's a long journey and we're anxious to get back to Flowery Branch to get the mistakes corrected and move onto the next ballgame. You've got to do that, so as a team you've got to put this one behind you. Our motto around here has always been ‘stop the streak at one' and that will be our mantra all week long."

On the last drive:

"I thought it was a well executed two-minute drive until we got inside the 10-yard line and we had some opportunities to make the plays and we did not get them done. And again when we play the Saints it's usually a hard fought game and it turned that way again today. My hats off to Sean (Payton) and his staff; they did a great job and they got the outcome they wanted."

On improvements:

"Well, we have to protect the quarterback a lot better than we did today, but there's a lot of things we have to do better. He (Matt Ryan) was hit entirely too many times today and that's one of the things we have to correct. From the very beginning for any position group they are a unit and not one specific person. It's a unit and they have to grow together as a unit to protect the quarterback better than they did today."

On the final play:

"Well I'm not going to talk too much about it. We felt we had a good play called. There were a lot of options called and we had to move down into the second option and until I really see it on the film I really can't comment on it at all."

On the Saints' defense:

"That was not their 2012 defense. You know every year it's a different team. Rob Ryan is their new defensive coordinator and he came in and they made some plays and they were able to put some pressure on our quarterback. I don't think you can compare what their defense was last year to this year. It's a new season and it's a new unit for them."

On Stephen Jackson:

"I thought we were able to run the ball effectively at times and there were times when we could've done it better. I think he's a great addition to our offense and I think he shows what he's capable of doing in the scheme that we are running."

On the Saints offense:

"They are going to move the ball and they are very good and very efficient moving the football. The last two years he (Drew Brees) has thrown the ball for 5,000 yards so he's a very good quarterback. I thought - but I don't know until I watch the tape - that they made some very good plays out there. That's a very good offense and they create some match up issues for anybody."

On options on the last play:

"I'm not going to talk about what the first option was. Again, it's about strategy and it (the final play) is going to be analyzed 5,000 times in the next three days."


Quarterback Matt Ryan:

"We came down here and I think we handled the environment really well. But we just didn‟t play overall as well as we‟d like to. I think for the most part the differences were real small. They made the plays and we didn‟t today. We‟ve got to learn from this and improve."

"We had a lot of opportunities today. We moved the ball down the field and gave ourselves a chance to win that football game at the very end and we just didn‟t make the play."

"The third down play was just one of those things. Steven (Jackson) ran a great route, I let it go and kind of got bumped around. Even though it was the right call we just didn‟t make the play and then certainly we didn‟t make the play on the fourth down."

"Any time you lose it stinks and certainly today it stinks that we didn‟t get the outcome we wanted. We gave ourselves a chance and we just fell short. The thing is part of being a professional and part of handling as a veteran is being able to move on and realize you‟ve got to put it behind you. We‟ve got a whole season in front of us and there‟s a lot of football to go. We did some things well and we‟ve got to clean up the things we didn‟t do well and try and do better next week."

Running back STEVEN JACKSON:

"Coming out here we knew and expected it was going to be a tough hard game and the environment down here in New Orleans was going to be loud, and the rivalry was just as competitive as I‟ve been hearing about. But we went out there and made some plays but we also left some plays out there."

On the Saints' defense:

"They did a good job of mixing personnel up. When opportunities came up they made the plays to keep us off the field and in the end of the day that was the difference."

On the third-down play on last drive:

"When my number is called I expect to make plays. Difficult, easy, whatever; that‟s the expectation I have for myself. I don‟t live in a "what if‟ world, I expect to make the play. I expect to make the play. I dropped the ball, I dropped the ball. Yeah it wasn‟t the easiest catch, but I‟m not a person who makes excuses. But as we grow together, and as the guys see me play over the next couple of weeks, I will make the tough plays. Football is a game of inches and that‟s the expectation I have of myself."

Tight end TONY GONZALEZ

"You knew that coming in that it was going to be a dogfight - it always is. And when you look at the history they always come out on top, and then we come out on top when we have them at home. Give them credit, but at the same time we just have to play a lot better. Our defense came out and played real strong for us. Obviously Drew Brees is one of the best players to ever play the game and to hold him like that I thought they did an outstanding job.

"Offensively we‟ve got to protect a lot better. We know we have the horses to do it. I think we will take a lot of positives away from this game moving forward."

On the final offensive play for the Falcons:

"It was like they were covering me all day, like brackets - a double team. We tried to throw it over the top; somewhere along the backside with Julio (Jones) back there, but give them credit - they made the play. The ball was up in the air and I liked my chances, but we were just a fingertip away. So for that give them credit."

Receiver JULIO JONES on the final offensive play for the Falcons:

"They doubled me after showing us a lot of different looks before the play. All I know is that I was doubled. It was a crazy last play and one we just didn‟t make."

Center PETER KONZ

"I thought the communication on the field was good today and I thought everybody fought hard and we never gave up. But at the end of the day it comes down to making one play, so we are going to make our corrections."

Defensive tackle COREY PETERS

"We did some good plays out there today and some bad. Being a perfectionist you always want to do better. We‟ve got to cut out the explosive plays they got on us but what we have to do now is get back and look at the tape and definitely fix what we didn‟t do right out there today."

On Drew Brees' performance:

"Hey, he‟s a great player and we respect him a lot. We knew coming in what he‟s capable of and we respect him a whole lot. But, you know, we‟ll get another opportunity to see and compete against him down the road."


"This place (Mercedes-Benz Superdome) is real loud and it was very different from college but it was good to see a lot of family and friends out there cheering me on. Even though it was my first game I felt comfortable out there and I am glad I have a game under my belt."

_____

V-Roll Roll Call

Video: New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons Highlights | neworleanssaints.com

Video: "it was a hard fought win" | neworleanssaints.com
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton speaks with reporters after the New Orleans Saints 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 8, 2013. New Orleans Saints video.

Video: "our defense did an exceptional job" | neworleanssaints.com
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees speaks with reporters after the New Orleans Saints 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 8, 2013. New Orleans Saints video.

Video: "the Superdome is always alive" | neworleanssaints.com
New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham speaks with reporters after the New Orleans Saints 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 8, 2013. New Orleans Saints video.

Video: "it was a great win for us" | neworleanssaints.com
New Orleans Sants WR Marques Colston speaks with reporters after the New Orleans Saints 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 8, 2013. New Orleans Saints video.

New Orleans Saints Game Wrap: Video | neworleanssaints.com
New Orleans Saints Senior writer John DeShazier and Sean Kelly recap the New Orleans Saints dramatic 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 8, 2013.


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