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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 05:33 GMT 06:33 UK
New Orleans return with big win
A Saints fan welcomes the team back home
The Saints returned to a warm welcome from their fans
New Orleans made a winning return to their Superdome home in their first NFL game there since Hurricane Katrina as they beat Atlanta 23-3.

A sell-out crowd of 70,003 saw them dominate the match and cruise to their third straight win of the new season.

John Carney kicked three field goals and Drew Brees completed 20 of 28 passes for 191 yards.

The Saints had to move all their home games last season and played in Louisiana, San Antonio and New York.

But the franchise made a commitment to participate in the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast region and the fans responded in style with all this season's home matches already sold out.

The stadium housed huge numbers of increasingly desperate homeless people in the aftermath of the hurricane in conditions that degenerated into squalor.

Saints coach Sean Payton said: "We gave the game ball to the city of New Orleans. I thought the fans were magnificent. They were a big part of this win.

I thought the fans were magnificent. They were a big part of this win

New Orleans coach Sean Payton

"This night belongs to the city, the state of Louisiana and everyone in the Gulf South. There is still a lot of work to be done but this night belongs to the people of New Orleans. They deserve something."

Curtis Deloatch gave New Orleans a 7-0 first quarter lead after recovering a blocked punt in the end zone and stretched their advantage to 20-3 at half-time.

Carney then scored his final field goal, a 20-yarder midway through the third quarter, completed the scoring.

The Saints restricted Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to just 12 completions in 31 attempts for just 137 yards.

Vick said: "It was definitely the loudest crowd I ever played in front of. They were fired up - both the Saints and their fans."

Atlanta coach Jim Mora said: "As hard as it is to lose this game, I would be lying if I didn't say there was a little piece of me that didn't really appreciate what this game meant to this city. It meant an awful lot."

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