National Post | Sports

NEW ORLEANS — Sean Payton’s return to the sideline is one game old and already the Saints are celebrating a dramatic victory over a presumed title contender.

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They’re alone in first place, too.

Drew Brees passed for 357 yards and two scores, Roman Harper intercepted Matt Ryan’s tipped fourth-down pass in the end zone, and New Orleans held on for a 23-17 victory over the Falcons on Sunday.

“I was hoping our defence would pull one out, and man, did they ever,” Brees said.

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Last season, while suspended in connection with the NFL’s bounty probe, Payton watched helplessly from afar as the Saints fielded one of the worst defences ever, yielding a single-season record 7,042 yards. One of his first moves upon reinstatement was to hire Rob Ryan as defensive co-ordinator.

Payton put the…

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