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"I hope they aren't all like this" | Saints escape Atlanta with rollercoaster 27-26 victory over Falcons

The Saints erased a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter and won a thriller to open the 2022 season.

NEW ORLEANS — Things looked bleak for the New Orleans Saints as they were down 26-10 in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons on the road Sunday afternoon. 

But thanks to Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas's heroics and Will Lutz's leg, the Saints managed to escape Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a 27-26 victory to win their season opener.

Winston went 23-34 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. But it took a while for the Saints' offense to get into gear, as they only scored 10 points in the first three quarters. Winston was sacked four times.

After Taysom Hill scored a rushing touchdown in the first quarter, the Saints wouldn't score again until Will Lutz made a field goal in the third quarter.

But the Falcon's offense was firing on all cylinders, giving them a 23-10 lead at halftime. Their rushing attack was brutal all game, with Cordarrelle Patterson rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was 20/33 for 215 yards, and ran for 72 yards and a score.

But the Saints offense woke up when it mattered in the fourth quarter. With about 11 minutes left in the game, Winston threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas, and the Saints succeeded on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to eight points.

After the Falcons punted on their next drive, Winston led the team down the field and found Michael Thomas (who finished the game with five catches for 57 yards and two touchdowns) again for a nine-yard score. The Saints would fail to get the two-point conversion, meaning the Falcons still lead by two points, 26-24.

"It's just a blessing to be back out there with the guys, to put on my uniform and contribute, and help move the chains," Thomas said. "When you're surrounded by great players and great coaches and a great organization, all you have to do is wait for your number to be called and make a play."

The Falcons punted again, and on the Saints' final drive, Winston hit wideout Jarvis Landry for a deep 40-yard catch. Not realizing Landry had run out of bounds and stopped the clock, Winston spiked the ball on the next play which resulted in an intentional grounding penalty.

However, Winston made up for his mistake on the next play by hitting Juwan Johnson for 33 yards to put the Saints in field goal range. With 19 seconds left in the game, Will Lutz hit a clutch 51-yard field goal to put the Saints up 27-26.

"We, as an offense, started clicking at the right time," Winston said after the game. "We knew we were passing the ball. So our approach was...just to get into that rhythm."

But the Falcons weren't done yet. After Mariota drove the team to their own 40-yard line with two seconds left, an unnecessary roughness penalty by Marshon Lattimore give the Falcons an extra 15 yards, putting kicker Younghoe Koo in position to win the game with a 63-yard field goal attempt.

However, Koo's kick was blocked by Payton Turner and the Saints escaped Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the 27-26 win.

"I hope they aren't all like this," said head coach Dennis Allen after the game. "I told them to have a tough skin tomorrow. We aren't going to win a lot of games playing the way we did today."

The Saints are now 1-0 and play the Buccaneers at home on September 18. The game will kick off at 12:00 pm on FOX.

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