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NEW ORLEANS — The Big Rollercoaster continues up and down in the Big Easy.
The New Orleans Saints plunged dramatically after a high point win the previous week for the third time this season Sunday, losing to the formerly below .500 Atlanta Falcons, 27-25, on a 29-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo as time expired before 69,170 at the Louisiana Superdome amusement park turned chamber of horrors.
The Saints (5-3) just last week beat reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay, 36-27, here, sending the Bucs to 6-2 in a stunning performance after losing starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter.
New Orleans started this trend in the season opener with a dominating, 38-3 win over Green Bay, only to lose the next week, 26-7, at Carolina, which fell to 4-5 Sunday after a loss to New England. The Saints regrouped to beat New England, 28-13, after that in another sterling performance, only to lose, 27-21, the next week to the 0-3 New York Giants – now 3-6.
If this keeps up, the Saints will win at Tennessee next week.
“We didn’t do enough things well,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “That bothers you as a coach because you want to see more consistency. We didn’t do the things tht winning teams do consistently in our league.”
Like starting fast, or at least in the first half or third quarter. Atlanta (4-4) took a 10-0 halftime lead and was up 17-3 after three quarters, then 24-6 with 10:39 to play.
New Orleans came alive in the fourth quarter and took a 25-24 lead with 1:01 to play on an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trevor Siemian — the hero from last week — to wide receiver Kenny Stills. Siemian threw incomplete on the two-point conversion.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan wasted no time and on first down and completed a 64-yard bomb down the sideline to running back Cordarrelle Patterson to the Saints’ 11-yard line with 51 seconds to go. Patterson beat rookie third round pick cornerback Paulson Adebo on the play. The Falcons killed the clock and set up the field goal so New Orleans would have no time to counter, and the kick sailed through as the clock elapsed.
“You want to stay on top of your coverage in that situation,” Payton said.
The Saints were without safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, who left the game with a foot injury in the first half.
The play ruined a thrilling comeback by the Saints, who outscored Atlanta 19-0 to take a 25-24 lead wiht 1:01 to go.
Atlanta went up 24-6 at the 10-minute mark on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to all-alone wide receiver Olamid Zaccheaus. The score was set up by Siemian when he fumbled at his 38-yard line under a rush. Linebacker Steven Means returned it 32 yards.
Seimian — just 5-of-11 passing for 34 yards at halftime — finally got going and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marquez Callaway with 7:57 to play to cut Atlanta’s lead to 24-13.
Seimian again drove the Saints after a defensive stop to get within 24-19 with 4:35 to play on a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Alvin Kamara. A two-point conversion pass by Siemian was incomplete.
Seimian finished strong, completing 25 of 41 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan completed 23 of 30 for 343 yards and two touchdowns.
“For us, we’ve got to find ways to capture that (scoring drives) early in the game,” Seimian said. “And you don’t have to be in two-minute to do that.”