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Saints vs Falcons 2013: Garrett Hartley, the Unsung Hero

Giving credit to field goal kicker Garrett Hartley for connecting on 3 of 3 field goal attempts in the Saints' 23-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive performance demonstrated during the Saints' 23-17 opening victory over the archrival Atlanta Falcons stood out as the highlight of the game. The hopeful expectations for improvement that have been set under new coordinator Rob Ryan were not only met, but surpassed. Granted, there is still a whole season to play, but the Falcons have one of the most potent offenses the Saints will face all season, and there just seems to be signs from Sunday's performance, that Saints fans can expect to see more of the same.

Overshadowed by the debut of a revamped defense, and the return of Sean Payton to the sideline, seemed to be the reliable kicking of Garrett Hartley. Hartley was three of three on field goal attempts, contributing significantly to the Saints' six point winning margin.

Just as important to the points that Hartley's kicks added to the Saints scoring total is the momentum that it provided. Just like turnovers, too many times missed field goals lead to momentum shifts by the opposing team. Thanks to Hartley's accuracy Sunday, the momentum stayed in the Saints favor when they needed it the most.

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