By Mike Bell

Matt Ryan threw for 448 yards and 3 touchdowns in a game that goes a long way to erasing the bad memories of last year’s 4-12 nightmare season.

Fans have been begging for more touches from Antone Smith and with good reason, he turned a screen pass into  a 54 yard romp into the end zone.

Credit Levine Toilolo with a great block on that play and a nice stab in the red zone (from the 1 yard line) for a TD of his own.

How about Devin Hester? His ball catching skills were often maligned in Chicago but he’s a perfect compliment to our pro bowl receiver corps.

Always steady and somewhat overlook this preseason, Quizz Rodgers showed off his elusiveness on a zig-zagging 17 yard scampers for a score in the 4th quarter to put the Falcons up  31-27.

Roddy scored a TD and Julio stretched the field with 117 yard receiving. The only blemish for the offense was Julio’s fumble after a 20 yard catch and run.

If the Falcons score on that series perhaps there would have been less nail biting in the stands…but Saints-Falcons is never easy.

When New Orleans punched it in after a 9 play 80 yard drive to make it 20-7 it looked like this game was over. But Matt Ryan makes 2 big throws to Devin Hester and Roddy White to cover 58 yards in 20 seconds.

Matt Bryant hits the FG to make it 20-10. The Falcons got some confidence going into the half and the ball to start the 3rd quarter.

The Falcons went 80 yards on 12 plays capped off with Levin Toilolo’s TD grab. He still dropped more than he caught but hopefully he will continue to gain experience and become more
than an afterthought in the redzone.

The main concern for me is where’s the beef (and the pass rush)? After all the “we’re getting tougher” talk and off season additions Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson I thought we’d shut down the Saints running game. Mark Ingram scored 2 rushing TDs and new addition Khiry Robinson ran for another. For my money Drew Brees had way too much time in the pocket. The key to getting Brees out of his rhythm is pressure up the middle. With the exception of Babineaux I didn’t see any consistent heat on the QB.

The biggest defensive play of the game was Willie Mo’s strip of Marques Colston which set up the game winning FG in OT. But defensive concerns aside what a way to start off the season. Matt Ryan shows why he is the franchise quarterback, making all the throws and even picking em up and putting em down scrambling for 15 yards.

And Mr. Clutch Matt Bryant makes 2 50+ yarders, one to tie and one to win.

Now lose to the Bengals next week and the naysayers will be back to say this team isn’t a playoff contender. But how can you not be impressed with a come from behind overtime win against
a team that has owned you for the last 8 years? An electric playoff type atmosphere, big play after big play.

If the defense can step it up and create more turnovers this team will look a lot like the 2012 squad that was a #1 seed in the NFC Playoffs. Long way to go but what an inspiring start.