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Atlanta at New Orleans

Saints hand victory to Falcons with late penalties

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

SAN ANTONIO -- Atlanta Falcons kicker Todd Peterson's attempt sailed wide left, the "home" crowd erupted and one of the New Orleans Saints' best games of the season was headed to overtime.

Except for one problem: that yellow flag on the ground.

New Orleans was penalized for defensive holding on the missed kick, Peterson was moved five yards closer and, given another chance, booted the 36-yard field goal down the middle to send the Falcons to a wild 34-31 win Sunday.

While Falcons players danced around the field to celebrate their good fortune, Saints players started ripping off their helmets in anger as fans at the Alamodome threw paper out of the upper decks in disgust.

They had their reasons: Peterson had missed his first try in the final seconds and the Saints appeared to have survived. But defensive end Tony Bryant was flagged for holding because he grabbed a Falcons player to allow a teammate to try to block the kick.

The infraction had nothing to do with Peterson missing the 41-yarder, but Atlanta was allowed to line up for another try nonetheless.

Peterson nailed it, leaving Saints coach Jim Haslett steaming and cursing after the loss.

"I'm telling you it was a flat-out (expletive) call," Haslett said in a remark that is likely to draw a fine from the NFL. He said the Saints ran the same play Atlanta had used a week earlier.

"They didn't call it last week. We were pulling the guy to the outside and you're allowed to pull as long as you're moving forward," he said.

"The guy fell on top of me," Bryant said. "If anything, he should have been called for holding. I was trying to make a play."

Referee Bill Carollo stood behind the call.

"It's considered a pull-and-shoot," Carollo said. "By definition of defensive holding on a field goal kick, two things have to happen. First, he has to have defensive holding and the second player has to shoot into the hole. That's what we called."

A simple but unsatisfactory explanation for the Saints (2-4). Meanwhile, the Falcons (4-2) were happy to get out of San Antonio with a key win over an NFC South division rival.

"You put in your pocket and you get on the plane as fast as you can and you get home," said coach Jim Mora. "And that's what we're going to do."

New Orleans, embarrassed at Green Bay 52-3 a week earlier, had tied it at 31-31 when Aaron Brooks hit Devery Henderson in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard TD with less than a minute left.

Then the Falcons' Michael Vick, bottled up most of the afternoon in his first game back from a sprained knee, completed four passes and ran for a first down that quickly moved the ball down the field.

Vick called it the "the biggest drive we've had all year. It was the moment of truth."

Then the Saints -- and the officials -- practically handed it to Peterson to win not once, but twice.

First, the Saints were flagged for having too many players on the field. The extra five yards inched Peterson up from what would have been a 46-yard attempt.

Then, as his kick with six seconds left sailed wide left, the other flag dropped, this time calling Bryant for the hold. So Peterson stepped up again and drilled the mulligan as time expired.

"It's what I get paid to do," Peterson said. "What separates the players that stay in this business is the mental game. ... From a mental standpoint, my job is to respond to adversity."

And while enduring a season on the road after being forced out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints -- who complained loudly after being made to play their first "home" game at New York against the Giants -- had found a way to drop another one.

The Falcons scored two long defensive touchdowns and a fourth-quarter interception set up Warrick Dunn's 21-yard score that made it 31-24 with less than five minutes to play.

The Saints' mistakes started in the first half.

Leading 10-3 after a Vick interception led to a Saints field goal, New Orleans was driving again when Antowain Smith coughed up a fumble that Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall scooped up and raced 66 yards for a touchdown.

"We don't feel lucky," said Demorrio Williams, who returned a blocked field goal attempt 59 yards for a touchdown in the first half. "That's football. We capitalized on their mistakes."

Brooks finished with 259 yards passing and two touchdowns and Smith, starting in place of the injured Deuce McAllister, rushed for 88 yards and two TDs.


  • Smith's two rushing touchdowns were his first since 2001 when he was with New England.
  • The Saints' second game in San Antonio drew a sellout crowd of 65,562.
  • The Saints rushed for 211 yards.
  • The Saints have 18 turnovers in their four losses.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Matt Schaub helps Todd Peterson celebrate after the Falcons kicker's second-chance field goal.
Matt Schaub helps Todd Peterson celebrate after the Falcons kicker's second-chance field goal. (AP)


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Sun. Oct. 16Final
Scoring Summary
FGTodd Peterson 37 Yd, 9:39. Drive: 12 plays, 55 yards in 4:32.
TDAntowain Smith, 24 Yd run (John Carney kick is good), 3:37. Drive: 5 plays, 62 yards in 2:26.
FGJohn Carney 19 Yd, 9:55. Drive: 7 plays, 44 yards in 4:52.
TDDeAngelo Hall, 66 Yd fumble return (Todd Peterson kick is good), 4:04.
TDDemorrio Williams, 59 Yd blocked FG return (Todd Peterson kick is good), 0:00.
TDAntowain Smith, 1 Yd run (John Carney kick is good), 7:39. Drive: 10 plays, 77 yards in 5:20.
TDJustin Griffith, 12 Yd pass from Michael Vick (Todd Peterson kick is good), 12:17. Drive: 18 plays, 82 yards in 10:22.
TDDonte' Stallworth, 27 Yd pass from Aaron Brooks (John Carney kick is good), 6:56. Drive: 8 plays, 83 yards in 5:21.
TDWarrick Dunn, 21 Yd run (Todd Peterson kick is good), 4:37. Drive: 1 play, 11 yards in 0:32.
TDDevery Henderson, 15 Yd pass from Aaron Brooks (John Carney kick is good), 0:46. Drive: 13 plays, 85 yards in 3:51.
FGTodd Peterson 36 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 6 plays, 50 yards in 0:46.
Players of the Game

A. Brooks
Att 33
Comp 22
Yds 259
TD 2

W. Dunn
Rush 22
Yds 100
Avg 4.5
TD 1
M. Vick11/2311211
W. Dunn22100121
M. Vick851012
T. Duckett2503
J. Griffith1404
A. Crumpler452021
M. Jenkins224013
W. Dunn215015
J. Griffith211112
R. White110010
New Orleans
A. Brooks22/3325921
A. Smith1288224
A. Stecker1686017
A. Brooks328013
D. Henderson1909
A. Hakim685019
D. Stallworth783127
D. Henderson453118
Z. Hilton118018
N. Poole112012
M. Karney1808
A. Stecker2004
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
HOU 10 Final
SEA 42
SD 27 Final
OAK 14
NE 20 Final
DEN 28
NYJ 17 Final
BUF 27
CIN 31 Final
TEN 23
MIA 13 Final
TB 27
JAC 23 Final
PIT 17
WAS 21 Final
KC 28
CAR 21 Final
DET 20
NYG 13 Final
DAL 16
MIN 3 Final
CHI 28
STL 28 Final
IND 45
CLE 3 Final
BAL 16