Instead, what they got was an early 13-0 Falcons lead that turned into an intensely close game that went down to the wire.
For a moment, it even appeared as if the Falcons would win, although a late interception by Roman Harper eventually cemented a 23-17 Saints victory. But it wasn’t Harper or Payton that were the people who should receive the most credit for the Saints’ victory, although they both had major contributions.
The man that should receive the most credit for the Saints’ win is Drew Brees.
Despite the Saints only putting in 23 points during the game Sunday afternoon, Brees put in a great performance. He completed 26 of 35 passes for 357 yards, an average of 10.2 yards per pass attempt. Although some may find this to be a rather normal night for Brees, that fails to pay him the dues of what he accomplishes on a weekly basis.
Brees was able to throw for this incredible amount of yards despite his running backs only rushing for 78 yards and averaging a measly 2.7 yards per rushing attempt. And while the Saints have rarely been known as a running-first team during Brees’ time, their 78 rushing yards is an unacceptable return and it allowed the Falcons to effectively know what they were going to be facing — a lot of passes.
And yet, they could not stop it.
This poor running performance showed that despite Payton being a great coach, the Saints will not automatically be a better team because he is on the sidelines. But, it also showed that with Drew Brees on their side, there will never be a game that they cannot win.