Brees runs for TD in OT, lifting Saints over Falcons
ATLANTA (AP) — Drew Brees' 1-yard run capped an 80-yard touchdown drive to open overtime that lifted the New Orleans Saints to a 43-37 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Brees' score came after his apparent 3-yard TD pass to Alvin Kamara was overturned on a review that determined Kamara's knee was down before the goal line. Brees scored on a keeper on the following play, giving the Saints (2-1) the win on the day the 39-year-old quarterback set the NFL record for career completions.
Brees passed for 396 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two scores. Kamara had 15 catches for 124 yards and ran for 66 yards.
Brees' biggest play before the winner might have been his improbable 7-yard scoring run with 1:15 remaining that forced overtime. He ran to his left and then spun to avoid tackle attempts by Brian Poole and Robert Alford.
Atlanta's Matt Ryan had his first career game with five scoring passes, including three to rookie Calvin Ridley. That wasn't enough for the Falcons (1-2) against Brees and the high-scoring Saints, who gained 534 yards.
Ryan passed for 374 yards, including 146 to Ridley, who became the first Falcons rookie with three scoring catches. Ridley, who had seven receptions, including a 75-yard TD, had his first game with more than one touchdown reception in his first game with at least 100 yards receiving.
Ridley's third scoring catch against the Saints was a 9-yarder early in the third quarter that held up following a review.
Ryan's five touchdown passes tied the team record set by Wade Wilson on Dec. 13, 1992, at Tampa Bay.
The fifth went to Mohamed Sanu — followed by Ryan's 2-point conversion pass to Sanu — gave the Falcons a 37-30 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
The scoring pass came after Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata was called for unnecessary roughness when Atlanta's Matt Bryant kicked a 29-yard field goal that would have given the Falcons a 32-30 lead. With the penalty, the Falcons' offense came back on the field.
Ridley beat P.J. Williams on his first two scoring catches, an 18-yarder in the first quarter and the 75-yarder in the second quarter.
The Saints made a defensive switch, moving Ken Crawley into coverage on Ridley. Crawley was called for pass interference on a deep incompletion to Ridley early in the third quarter that gave Atlanta a first down at the New Orleans 5. On second down from the 9, Ridley's third scoring catch gave the Falcons a 21-16 lead.
Williams' troubles continued when he was called for pass interference when trying to cover Sanu, and that flag set up another first down at the 5. Ryan's fourth scoring pass, to Tevin Coleman, made it 29-23.
With his 14th completed pass, Brees broke the record of 6,300 career completions set by Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Brees closed in on the mark early, completing his first four passes, including a 19-yard scoring pass to Ted Ginn Jr., on the Saints' opening drive.
The Falcons pulled even on Ryan's 18-yard touchdown pass to Ridley later in the opening quarter.
Brees set the career completions record with a 17-yard completion to Michael Thomas in the second quarter, giving him 6,301.
With a little more help from Ginn, Brees might have had a bigger first half. Ginn dropped a sideline pass on a drive that ended with a 49-yard field goal by Will Lutz bouncing off the left upright and over the cross bar. Later in the second quarter, Ginn juggled a pass for an incompletion as he ran out of bounds on the Atlanta sideline.
Ryan's 75-yard scoring pass to Ridley was his 34th career TD pass against the Saints, the most by any quarterback. He surpassed Joe Montana's 33 TD passes against New Orleans.
Saints reserve cornerback Patrick Robinson was carted from the field early in the third quarter with a left ankle injury. He did not return.
Falcons safety Ricardo Allen left early in overtime with a left calf injury. He was helped to the sideline and then driven on a cart to the locker room. ... Reserve cornerback Justin Bethel suffered a knee injury in the third quarter. ... Atlanta rookie linebacker Foyesade Oluokun left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.
Saints: at New York Giants next Sunday.
Falcons: Play their third straight home game against the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday.
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