The worst defense in the history of the NFL made plays when it needed to.
The Saints came back for a 23-17 win over the Falcons, making key plays at the right time with a makeshift defense.
The Falcons had a fourth-and goal chance inside the final minute, but safety Roman Harper picked off a tipped pass intended for Tony Gonzalez, securing the win in a back-and-forth game.
It was one of a series of stops for the Saints, who were more timely than stout. That’s going to have to be the case, because they don’t have the personnel to shut people down defensively.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees outdueled Falcons counterpart Matt Ryan, completing 26-of-35 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the kind of output they were counting on with Payton back on the sidelines after his one-year suspension.
But the consistent ability to get pressure from an injury plagued defense will be the thing that allows the Saints to contend this year, if they can keep it up. Last year’s defense allowed an NFL record for yards allowed in a season, and after watching several key parts lost for the season with injuries in the preseason, it didn’t look promising.