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Given a Bounce, Saints Take a 20-19 Victory

<i> From Times Wire Services </i>

Dave Waymer got most of the credit but he reminded everyone that Gene Atkins made it all possible.

Atkins blocked a field goal that wound up in Waymer’s hands for a 58-yard touchdown return that carried the New Orleans Saints to a 20-19 victory over the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.

“Gene’s the one who did the job,” Waymer said. “The ball bounced into my hands and I just took off with it.”

The Saints (6-1) remained tied with the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC West lead by winning their sixth straight game and ninth in a row on the road. Seattle (4-3) fell into a tie for first in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.

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Atkins, a third-year safety, said he beat Mike Tice to block a 36-yard field goal attempt by Norm Johnson that would have given Seattle a 12-10 lead in the third quarter. Instead, New Orleans wound up with a 17-9 lead.

“When I got past Tice, I knew I was scott free, but I didn’t know if I could get to the ball,” Atkins said. “It hit me in the chest and I thought I had a chance to get it myself.”

It was the first blocked field goal returned for a touchdown against the Seahawks in their 13-year history.

Johnson kicked 4 other field goals.

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“Everything was the same for us,” he said. “The holder, the snapper and the kicker. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that was a 10-point swing.”

The Saints had a punt blocked in a 23-17 win over San Diego last weekend and Coach Jim Mora severely criticized his special teams.

This time, he changed his tune.

“We got it together today, though,” he said. “Our special teams were a big key.”

The Seahawks didn’t score their first touchdown until 38 seconds remained in the game on a 3-yard pass from Kelly Stouffer to Brian Blades, but it wasn’t enough.

Seattle attempted an on-side kick, but Eric Martin recovered for the Saints.

Bobby Hebert passed 19 yards to Martin for a touchdown in the second quarter and Morten Andersen kicked 2 field goals for New Orleans.

Johnson kicked field goals of 22, 47, 46 and 42 yards. Andersen’s field goals were from 31 and 23 yards.

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Stouffer, in his third start since replacing the injured Dave Krieg, completed 27 of 46 passes for 370 yards and a touchdown, with an interception. Blades caught 8 passes for 145 yards.

Steve Largent caught 7 passes, extending his NFL record of catching at least one pass to 159 straight regular season games.


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