Except for one problem: that yellow flag on the ground.
New Orleans was penalized for defensive holding on the missed kick, Peterson was moved five yards closer and, given another chance, booted the 36-yard field goal down the middle to send the Falcons to a wild 34-31 win.
The infraction had nothing to do with Peterson's missing the 41-yarder, but Atlanta was allowed to line up for another try nonetheless.
"I'm telling you it was a flat-out (expletive) call," Haslett said in a remark that is likely to draw a fine from the NFL. He said the Saints ran the same play Atlanta had used a week earlier.
"They didn't call it last week. We were pulling the guy to the outside and you're allowed to pull as long as you're moving forward," he said.
"The guy fell on top of me," Bryant said. "If anything, he should have been called for holding. I was trying to make a play."
Referee Bill Carollo stood behind the call.
"It's considered a pull-and-shoot," Carollo said. "By definition of defensive holding on a field goal kick, two things have to happen. First, he has to have defensive holding and the second player has to shoot into the hole. That's what we called."
"You put in your pocket and you get on the plane as fast as you can and you get home," said coach Jim Mora. "And that's what we're going to do."
It was the third time this week a prominent game ended in a bizarre, flip-flop fashion: The others being Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series and Notre Dame's last-second loss to USC.
New Orleans (2-4), embarrassed at Green Bay 52-3 a week earlier, had tied it at 31-31 when Aaron Brooks hit Devery Henderson in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard TD with under a minute left.
Then the Falcon's Michael Vick, bottled up most of the afternoon in his first game back from a sprained knee, completed four passes and ran for a first down that quickly moved the ball down the field.
Vick called it the "the biggest drive we've had all year. It was the moment of truth."
Then the Saints -- and the officials -- practically handed it to Peterson to win not once, but twice.
First, the Saints were flagged for having too many players on the field. The extra five yards inched Peterson up from what would have been a 46-yard attempt.
Then, as his kick with six seconds left sailed wide left, the other flag dropped, this time calling Bryant for the hold. So Peterson stepped up again and drilled the mulligan as time expired.
"It's what I get paid to do," Peterson said. "What separates the players that stay in this business is the mental game ... From a mental standpoint, my job is to respond to adversity."
The Falcons scored two long defensive touchdowns and a fourth-quarter interception set up Warrick Dunn 's 21-yard touchdown that made it 31-24 with less than five minutes to play.
"We don't feel lucky," said Demorrio Williams, who returned a blocked field goal attempt 59 yards for a touchdown in the first half. "That's football. We capitalized on their mistakes."
Brooks finished with 259 yards passing and two touchdowns and Smith, starting in place of the injured Deuce McAllister, rushed for 88 yards and two TDs.