Drew Brees and the Saints did just fine without their top receiver. The Falcons are still looking for someone who can catch the ball.
Brees went deep on the third play of the game to Marques Colston's backup and delivered another long touchdown at the end of the first half of Sunday's victory.
Meanwhile, the Falcons hardly caught anything in their fourth consecutive loss, which knocked them below .500 for the first time in Jim Mora's three seasons as coach.
Not even a 166-yard rushing game by quarterback Michael Vick could bail out the Falcons. As he walked off the field, getting booed by the few fans who remained, Vick made an obscene gesture. After the game, he apologized.
"I was frustrated and upset at how the game was going for my team," he said in a statement released by team. "And that frustration came out the wrong way."
The Falcons' signature play came early in the fourth while down 21-13, when Roddy White let the ball slip from his hands at the New Orleans 10 with no one around him.
Mora fell to his knees in disbelief. Tight end Alge Crumpler held up his arms and looked toward the roof of the Georgia Dome.
"I just turned up and tried to run with the ball (before) I caught it," White said. "I took my eyes off it."
The Saints had no such trouble.
Coming in with three losses in four games, the Saints stunned the Falcons right away with a 76-yard touchdown pass to Devery Henderson, who started for Colston. Colston sat after spraining an ankle last week.
Leading 14-6, New Orleans had the ball at the Atlanta 48 with seven seconds remaining in the first half. Brees dropped back and let go a towering pass toward the end zone, the sort of desperation throw that is usually knocked down.
But Terrance Copper slipped between Derrick Johnson and Lawyer Milloy, making the catch as he fell across the goal line.
"I just jumped up and tried to catch it," Copper said. "It was a good throw by Drew. It just fell in my hands."
DeAngelo Hall also leaped at the ball but got there too late.
"There's a guy (Hall) who's the designated tipper," Milloy said. "The other guy (Johnson) is supposed to be blocking him out. I'm the back tipper. For whatever reason, the guy caught the ball."
The Falcons trotted off the field to a round of boos after the extra point.
"Out of all the things that happened in this game, that may have been the thing that took the life out of this football team," said Vick, who fell 7 yards shy of the league rushing record for a quarterback he set in a 2002 overtime victory over Minnesota.
It got worse in the second half, with Atlanta's receivers playing like they rubbed down their hands with Vaseline.
"We've got to start making some plays," Vick said, shaking his head.
After White's drop, the Saints sealed it with John Carney's 25-yard field goal and Deuce McAllister's second touchdown run, a 9-yarder with 2:23 left.
NOTABLE: Johnson broke his right arm while covering a punt during the second half and didn't return. And New Orleans cornerback DeJuan Groce sustained a neck injury while blocking on a punt return early in the fourth. X-rays were negative.