Michael Thomas made his return to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons and immediately made an impact on the team.
It had been more than a year since Thomas, one of the NFL’s top wide receivers, had played in a football game due to multiple injuries. But when the Saints needed him the most, they called his number and he stepped up and scored in pivotal moments against the Falcons.
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Atlanta led 26-10 in the fourth quarter when Jameis Winston threw two touchdown passes to Thomas to get back into the game. And with 19 seconds left, Will Lutz nailed a 51-yard field goal to give New Orleans the 27-26 lead and the win.
Thomas finished with five catches for 57 yards and the two scores. Jarvis Landry led all receivers in his Saints debut with seven catches for 114 yards.
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“It was a blessing to be back out there with the guys,” Thomas said.
He set an NFL record with 149 catches in 2019 but has only played in eight games since then.
Winston finished 23-for-34 with 269 passing yards and two touchdown passes.
The Falcons went with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, and he was 20-for-33 with 215 passing yards. He added 72 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Cordarrelle Patterson had 22 carries for 120 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Drake London led the team with five catches for 74 yards.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith wasn’t worried about the loss.
“You guys wrote our obituary back in May and you’ll continue to write our obituary,” he said. “Who cares? We’ve got 16 games to learn from this and get better.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.