Looking back on Sean Payton’s legacy in the NFC South

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

3. Sean Payton vs. Atlanta Falcons

Sean Payton’s record against the Atlanta Falcons is 21-9.

He finished with one win and one loss against the Falcons in the 2021 season.

It’s only fitting that Payton’s last game coaching New Orleans was against the Falcons in Week 18, when the Saints were desperately trying to keep their playoffs hopes alive.

Payton’s very first home game was against the Falcons, which also happened to be the first home game for the franchise since Hurricane Katrina.

On that day in 2006, the Saints secured an incredibly emotional and cathartic 23-3 victory over the Falcons in the newly renovated Superdome.

The Saints had gone 3-13 the season prior, when they were forced to relocate to San Antonio for the entire regular season and split their eight “home” games among East Rutherford, New Jersey; San Antonio and Baton Rouge.

When the Saints came marching home to their Superdome, the response was nothing short of electrifying. In one of the most memorable games in franchise history — affectionately called “The Domecoming” — Saints safety Steve Gleason blocked a punt by Falcons kicker Michael Koenen and Curtis Deloatch recovered the ball for a Saints touchdown early in the game. NOLA powered forward to score 16 more points, jump into first place in the NFC South, and go on to record its most successful season at the time.

This game was a symbol of “rebirth” in more ways than one: the city, still reeling over Katrina, started anew, and the victory marked the beginning of a golden era of Saints football.

Sean Payton’s Saints and the Falcons remain fierce rivals, but as the record will show, Payton wins this series by a landslide.