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But New Orleans got the ball to start the second half, and Brees went back to work. This time, he made a couple of nifty moves to avoid sacks, completing six passes on an 83-yard drive consuming 15 plays and more than 6½ minutes. But the Falcons defense held again, forcing Garrett Hartley to boot a 21-yard field goal that cut it to 17-10.

Hartley connected again from much farther out on the Saints’ next possession, a 52-yarder that brought New Orleans even closer.

The Falcons, meanwhile, couldn’t do anything offensively. They failed to pick up a first down on five straight possessions, a stretch in which the Saints had a 289-30 lead in total yards and a staggering 18 first downs.

Finally, it was the Atlanta defense that turned things around late in the third.

Brees rolled to his right and threw over the middle, but Moore picked off the pass and returned it to the New Orleans 16. Ryan connected on first-down throws to Gonzalez and Roddy White to set up Bryant’s field goal.