Atlanta began the game well and their offense looked in sync. Tony Gonzalez, who recently missed a pre-season practice to spend time with his son, showed his experience as he opened the scoring for the visitors by hauling in a seven-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Falcons continued their dominance on offense after a defensive stand but could not find the endzone, and Matt Bryant was forced to kick a 23-yard field goal. The Saints responded minutes later with a field goal of their own from Garrett Hartley to make the score 10-3.
Ryan's offense continued to look good and he hit Julio Jones over the middle for what would have been a big gain, but the receiver was stripped of the ball and safety Roman Harper recovered and ran his side into good field position.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees took full advantage and drew his side level with a lovely throw to Marques Colston down the middle of the seam for a 25-yard touchdown, while Hartley added the extra point.
Atlanta responded after the break as Ryan engineered a drive, which included a powerful run from Steven Jackson before the quarterback found Jones in the endzone for an eight-yard strike to restore their lead.
However, Brees came back again for the Saints as he drove his team down the field and found tight end Jimmy Graham in the flat, and he powered his way into the endzone for the score. Hartley added another field goal to make the score 23-17 with two minutes left in the game.
Ryan drove the Falcons the length of the field into a scoring position but he was repelled three times by the Saints defense before throwing an interception on fourth down to Harper to end the game.