Falcons vs. Saints 2013 final score: New Orleans holds off last-minute drive to beat Atlanta, 23-17

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Roman Harper picked off a Matt Ryan pass in the end zone with just 43 seconds remaining to preserve the Saints win.

The New Orleans Saints took an early lead in the NFC South race Sunday, intercepting a pass in the end zone with 43 seconds left to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-17, in a thriller at the Superdome.

On fourth-and-goal, with the Saints clinging to a six-point lead, Roman Harper picked off a pass from Matt Ryan in the end zone, ending the Falcons' dramatic comeback bid. Ryan had completed six passes to lead the Falcons downfield on a drive that began on their own 20 with 3:12 left in the game.

The Falcons jumped out to a quick start, going up 10-0 by the end of the first half. The scoring started when Ryan hit tight end Tony Gonzalez for a seven-yard touchdown with 8:40 left in the first quarter. They added on with a 23-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to go up 10 points heading into the second quarter.

The Saints then fired back in the second quarter, putting up 13 unanswered points. After Garrett Hartley kicked a 48-yard field goal, Marques Colston caught a 25-yard touchdown from Drew Brees to tie the game with 9:16 remaining in the half. Hartley then added another field goal to take the three point lead.

The Falcons went back on top after Ryan hit Roddy White for a four-yard touchdown to make it 17-13. The Saints answered when Jimmy Graham caught a 7-yard pass from Brees midway through the third quarter.

With 3:16 remaining in the game, the Saints capped a ten-play, 68-yard drive with another Hartley field goal to give themselves the six-point lead and set up the Falcons' last minute scoring attempt.

Fantasy studs and duds

Matt Ryan had a big day, going 25-of-38 for 304 yards and two touchdowns, though he had the interception to go along with everything else. Drew Brees added 357 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as well.

Steven Jackson posted a strong 77 rushing yards on 11 carries, but had no touchdowns.

Injury report

Saints defensive linemen Broderick Bunkley and Tyrunn Walker were both forced out of the game after suffering leg injuries. Their respective statuses moving forward are unknown.

Did they cover?

The Saints came in as two-point favorites, according to Oddshark, meaning their three-point win covers the spread.

What's next?

Sept. 15, 1 p.m. ET St. Louis vs. Atlanta

Sept. 15, 4:05 p.m. ET New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay

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