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Falcons gamble and lose to Saints

ATLANTA -- A disconsolate Mike Smith watched the chip-shot field goal sail through the uprights, then walked slowly across the field, his head down, to shake hands with the other coach. Smith knew this loss was on him.

John Kasay kicked a 26-yard field goal in overtime after the Atlanta coach decided to go for it on fourth down deep in his own territory Sunday, a decision that backfired horribly and handed the New Orleans Saints a 26-23 victory over the Falcons.

"I know it will be scrutinized all week long," Smith said. "I want everybody to understand I take full responsibility."

New Orleans (7-3) took control of the NFC South race, snapping Atlanta's three-game winning streak. But this one will be long remembered for Smith's gutsy and ill-fated call, especially if this loss comes back to cost the defending division champion Falcons a return to the playoffs.

Atlanta (5-4) rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, tying it on Matt Bryant's 27-yard field goal on the final 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, stunningly, Smith decided to go for it on fourth down from his own 29.

Michael Turner was stuffed. Game over. "We were going to be aggressive in all that we did," Smith said. "Unfortunately, it did not work out."

The Saints' Drew Brees was 30-for-43 passing for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Marques Colston had eight catches for 113 yards. The Falcons' Matt Ryan completed 29 of 52 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns. Harry Douglas finished with eight receptions for 133 yards. Turner rushed for 96 yards, but couldn't get the one yard that mattered most.

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