The Falcons kept the Saints out of the endzone in the fourth quarter and mounted a strong comeback effort, but in the end, they couldn't pull it out.
Late in the fourth quarter, New Orleans connected on a field goal to take a 31-27 lead. Atlanta's defense helped prevent a touchdown, something they'd struggled to do for much of the day. Though they allowed a 46-yard completion to Jimmy Graham, they stopped New Orleans on third-and-11 to end the drive.
Matt Ryan had a chance to drive the Falcons down the field and drive he did, although he came up short in the end, failing to connect on a fourth-and-2 attempt to Roddy White in the end zone.
On third-and-3 from the Atlanta 27, Ryan connected with Jacquizz Rodgers who gained most of the 14 yards after the catch, including a stop-start move that made a Saints defender miss for a few more final yards. A few plays later, Rodgers was up to it again, gaining 18 yards on a handoff.
Ryan connected with six different receivers on the drive, but the most important connection wasn't completed.
After Atlanta stopped the Saints, they had one final chance with 37 seconds remaining. Ryan's bid for his 21st game-winning drive fell short.
The Falcons ended the day with two receivers reaching 100 yards, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Julio Jones chipped in another 75 yards.
The key stat in the loss for the Falcons was their difficulty in avoiding penalties. The entered the game against the Saints as the least-penalized team in the league with 24 accepted penalties on 34 flags thrown. On Sunday, they were penalized six times for 53 yards.
The Falcons' first loss of the season drops them to 8-1 on the season.