The run defense came through in the clutch.
John Kasay booted a 26-yard field goal in overtime to give the Saints a 26-23 win over Atlanta after Falcons coach Mike Smith decided to go for it on fourth and inches deep in his own territory in the extra session.
The Falcons (5-4) persevered back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, tying it on Matt Bryant’s 27-yard field goal on the last play of regulation.
In overtime, Atlanta appeared to pick up a first down on a pass to Mike Cox, but he was ruled just short after referee Terry McAuley looked at the replay.
Then, shockingly, Smith opted to go for it on fourth down from his own 29. Michael Turner was denied, and Kasay cashed in on the winning field goal for the Saints (7-3).
In the extra period, after each offense went three-and-out on its first possession of overtime, Atlanta faced third-and-1 from the 29.
Matt Ryan went to Cox, the backup fullback, who was met shy of the 30 but stretched out the ball with his right arm, appearing to get it across the line.
It was initially ruled a first down, but the replay showed he was juggling the ball as he was going down, and the spot was changed back.
The Falcons initially sent on the punting team, then signaled timeout.
After pondering it over, Smith chose to go for it, believing his team could pick up the foot or so needed to prolong the drive.
Ryan handed off to Turner, but the bruising runner never had a chance. He actually lost a couple of feet, and the stoked Saints took over.
Four plays later, Kasay booted his fourth field goal of the day, capturing the road win in the Georgia Dome on a Sunday where the Saints regained firm control of the NFC South.
Next: Bye Week, Monday November 28 vs. New York Giants, 7:30 ET.