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Defense helps Saints beat Falcons, 23-17

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Drew Brees passed for 357 yards and two scores and the New Orleans held on for a 23-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons to give Saints coach Sean Payton a triumphant return from his bounty ban.

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Roman Harper intercepted a tipped fourth down pass in the end zone with under a minute left.

Brees connected with Marques Colston for a 25-yard touchdown pass during which the receiver also set a franchise mark for catches with 533. Brees also hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 7-yard score in the third quarter.

Matt Ryan passed for 304 yards and touchdown passes to Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones. He also drove Atlanta to the Saints 3 in the final minute before falling just short.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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