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Falcons-Saints final score: Atlanta loses on road 23-17

The start to the 2013 season did not go the way the Falcons hoped for. Let's look at some of the highlights from their first loss of the year.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

After taking a 10-0 in the first quarter, the Falcons derailed a bit and couldn't get fully back on track. The season opener came down to one final play at the goal line, eerily similar to last year's NFC Championship, and again, Atlanta couldn't find the end zone as it fell to New Orleans 23-17.

Atlanta almost put cruise control on in the early going, but that feature malfunctioned, along with the brakes and power steering. The second and third quarters were tough to watch. Matt Ryan did not have much time to throw as the game progressed, The Saints finished with three sacks and six hits on No. 2.

While the offense looked good at times, it just didn't feel in-sync for much of the game. Drives stalled, penalties caused problems and, let's face it, 17 points against a defense that just finished with the worst season in NFL history doesn't add up with the weapons the Falcons have.

There were some bright spots, of course. Ryan was surgical on the final drive, up until the last few plays. If he had more time to throw, I'm guessing we could have seen a different result.

Week 1 stats Completions Attempts Yards Touchdowns INT Rating
Ryan 25 38 304 2 1 96.8

Steven Jackson is going to have a great season. He brings so much versatility to the Falcons backfield, an asset we haven't seen in, well, I can't remember when. He dropped a pass at the goal line on the last drive, which fans will not forget, but he rushed for 77 yards and caught five passes for 45 yards.

Julio Jones still isn't human. Harry Douglas stepped up and silenced criticism surrounding the lack of depth at receiver.

Robert Alford made several huge plays on defense. The Falcons stopped the run well, and while Drew Brees threw for 357 yards, we saw some promising highlights from the secondary without Asante Samuel.

Good things that happened:

- Peria Jerry had a sack!

- Matt Bosher punted a ball into space!

- The lights stayed on the whole game!

See? It wasn't all bad. It's just the first game of the year, so there's no reason to panic. While discouraging, the Falcons fought their rival on the road closely for four quarters. What are your biggest takeaways from Week 1?