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updated: 9/8/2013 3:23 PM

Defense helps Saints beat Falcons 23-17

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  • New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) celebrates his touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.

      New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) celebrates his touchdown reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees passed for 357 yards and two scores and the New Orleans held on for a 23-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons to give Saints coach Sean Payton a triumphant return from his bounty ban.

Roman Harper intercepted a tipped fourth down pass in the end zone with under a minute left.

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Brees connected with Marques Colston for a 25-yard touchdown pass during which the receiver also set a franchise mark for catches with 533. Brees also hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 7-yard score in the third quarter.

Matt Ryan passed for 304 yards and touchdown passes to Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones. He also drove Atlanta to the Saints 3 in the final minute before falling just short.

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