Sunday's roundup: Brees, Saints blow past Packers
New Orleans — Drew Brees treated a national audience to yet another prolific performance in the Superdome, and New Orleans' defense helped out with a few big plays of its own.
Brees completed 27 of 32 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and the Saints ended the Green Bay Packers' four-game winning streak, 44-23 on Sunday night.
"All we talked about all week long is just coming together as a team and playing a complete game as a team," said Brees, whose late interception was part of a collapse in Detroit a week earlier. "It was a perfect representation of that."
Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks had a 50-yard touchdown catch and a 4-yard scoring run, and tight end Jimmy Graham caught a touchdown pass. The Saints (3-4) pulled even in victories with Carolina (3-4-1), setting up a Thursday night showdown for first place in the NFC South.
Aaron Rodgers, intercepted only once in Green Bay's first seven games, was picked off twice on tipped passes and sacked three times. He still passed for 418 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb, but it was not nearly enough to prevent the Packers (5-3) from falling a game behind NFC North leader Detroit.
Saints coach Sean Payton certainly wasn't complaining about the yards his defense gave up, given the big plays they produced.
"That's one of the best offenses in the league," Payton said about Green Bay. "That was a good team win in all areas."
Except perhaps in the punting game — because there were no punt by either team, marking only the third time that's happened in NFL history. It has now happened twice this season, both times involving Green Bay, starting with the Packers' 38-17 victory over Chicago on Sept. 28.
Cameron Jordan had two sacks for New Orleans, one which forced a field goal in the first half. Kasim Edebali also had two sacks for New Orleans, his second on reserve QB Matt Flynn, who was in for mop-up duty and fumbled on the play.
Brees completed all 11 of his passes in the second half, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Josh Hill, as the Saints improved to 3-0 at home this season. It also marked New Orleans' 14th straight victory in a night game in the Superdome, going back to 2009. Most of those games weren't close, and the latest one followed suit.
Green Bay was without two starting defensive backs: cornerback Sam Shields and safety Morgan Burnett. Compounding matters for Green Bay's defense was the strong running of Mark Ingram, which only made Brees' play-action fakes more effective. Carrying a heavy load in the absence of injured running backs Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson, Ingram had 24 carries for a career-high 172 yards and a touchdown.
"Mark had a fantastic game. I thought we had good balance. Credit the offensive line," Payton said. "The balance helped us tonight because we got some advantageous looks with heavy play-action shots downfield out of some run looks."
Packers running back Eddie Lacy, who grew up in the New Orleans area, had 181 yards from scrimmage — including 123 yards on eight catches — in his homecoming, but was stopped on fourth-and-short in Green Bay territory in the third quarter. Soon after, the Saints cashed in on Graham's touchdown to make it a two-score game.
The game appeared to turn on the Saints' first interception, which came when the Packers were in range of a go-head score early in the third quarter. Cornerback Corey White tipped a pass intended for Andrew Quarless near the goal line and linebacker David Hawthorne caught it. That led to Cooks' TD.
Later, Payton set up New Orleans' fourth-down stop by challenging the spot of a reception near the first down marker. Initially ruled a first down, the spot was moved back a yard, then Hawthorne and defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker stuffed Lacy's run to the right.
White had New Orleans' second interception in the fourth quarter.
Neither team had trouble moving the ball in the first half, but both defenses were largely successful in mitigating the damage on the scoreboard. Green Bay's Mason Crosby and New Orleans' Shayne Graham each kicked three field goals, and it was tied at 16 at halftime.
(At) Cincinnati 27, Baltimore 24: Andy Dalton made up for his two second-half turnovers by scoring on a 1-yard sneak with 57 seconds left on Sunday, rallying the Cincinnati Bengals to a 27-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that tightened the AFC North race.
The Bengals (4-2-1) wasted an 11-point lead as Dalton's fumble and interception helped the Ravens (5-3) pull ahead 24-20 with 3:59 left.
That's when Dalton pulled it out against the NFL's stingiest defense. He threw a 53-yard pass to Mohamed Sanu on third-and-10 — safety Terrence Brooks got turned around — and took it the final yard on fourth down, completing a 10-play, 80-yard drive.
The Ravens appeared to regain the lead when Steve Smith Sr. caught a pass and went 80 yards to the end zone with 32 seconds left, but the receiver was called for pushing off to get open.
(At) New England 51, Chicago 23: Tom Brady gave the staggering Chicago Bears plenty to yell about.
The streaking quarterback from the Univeristy of Michigan threw five scoring passes in one of the best games of his brilliant career and the New England Patriots cruised to a 51-23 win on Sunday.
New England (6-2) scored on all five of its possessions in the half — and one of Chicago's — on its way to its fourth straight win. The Bears (3-5) fell behind 45-7 early in the second half and lost for the fourth time in five games.
The Bears came to town after a tumultuous week that began with a 27-14 home loss to the Miami Dolphins. Afterward, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was heard screaming in an emotional locker room. Coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler downplayed the postgame scene during the week.
Seattle 13, (at) Carolina 9: Wilson connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Luke Willson with 47 seconds left, lifting the Seattle to a 13-9 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and helping the Seahawks snap a two-game losing streak.
It's the third straight year Wilson has brought the Seahawks (4-3) back from a second-half deficit to beat the Panthers here. In the previous two seasons, Wilson threw second-half TD passes to Jermaine Kearse and Golden Tate in tight defensive games.
Carolina's defense, which had allowed at least 37 points in four of its previous five games, held the defending Super Bowl champions in check before Wilson led a nine-play, 80-yard drive for the only touchdown.
Wilson finished 20 of 32 for 199 yards with one interception and the one touchdown to Willson on a seam route.
Houston 30, (at) Tennessee 16: Arian Foster helped the Houston Texans put an end to their three-game skid in time for a signature moment in franchise history.
Foster ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a pass for a score, and the Texans beat the Tennessee Titans 30-16 Sunday for a win in the franchise's 200th game.
The Texans (4-4) finally got a win as Foster topped 100 yards rushing in his fourth straight game. J.J. Watt had two sacks and forced a fumble as the Texans beat the team they replaced in Houston for the fourth time in five games.
(At) Kansas City 34, St. Louis 7: Jamaal Charles proved Sunday he can score touchdowns with strength as much as speed.
The Pro Bowl running back ran for a pair of scores, Knile Davis returned a kick 99 yards for another touchdown and the Kansas City Chiefs trounced the St. Louis Rams 34-7 to earn the Governor's Cup from their cross-state rivals.
Charles, who last week became the Chiefs' career rushing leader, powered over the left side of the line for a touchdown in the first quarter. He added a 36-yard score early in the fourth, dodging a defender at the line of scrimmage and then accelerating past the Rams defense.
Miami 27, (at) Jacksonville 13: The Miami Dolphins got some help in winning consecutive games for the first time this season.
Rookie Blake Bortles had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, costly mistakes that Miami used to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-13 on Sunday.
Former Lion Louis Delmas for 81 yards and Brent Grimes for 22 scored on the turnovers for the Dolphins (4-3).
Ryan Tannehill's 3-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews made it 24-6 late in the third quarter and gave the Dolphins a comfortable cushion in a game they could have easily trailed by double digits.
Bills 43, (at) Jets 23: Kyle Orton settled in as the game went on and looked pretty comfortable connecting with his Buffalo Bills receivers.
Meanwhile, Geno Smith was benched in the first quarter by the New York Jets, and Michael Vick wasn't much better.
Orton tied a career high by throwing four touchdown passes and the Bills forced the Jets into six turnovers — three each by Smith and Vick — in a 43-23 rout Sunday.
Orton won for the third time in four games since replacing EJ Manuel as the starting quarterback for the Bills (5-3), tossing TD passes to Robert Woods, Lee Smith, Scott Chandler and Sammy Watkins.
Orton finished 10 of 17 for 238 yards, and Watkins had three catches for 157 yards — but was embarrassed when he was caught from behind while celebrating early on what appeared would be a long TD.
(At) Cleveland 23, Oakland 13: The Browns avoided a loss that would have been much more than embarrassing.
It would have been historic.
Brian Hoyer threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Hawkins early in the fourth quarter and the Cleveland Browns beat the winless Oakland Raiders.
Hoyer's touchdown to Hawkins put the Browns (4-3) ahead 16-6, shortly after Cleveland's defense came to the rescue.
Browns safety Donte Whitner forced a fumble late in the third quarter with a huge hit on Oakland running back Darren McFadden as the Raiders (0-7) were driving deep into Cleveland territory.
Cleveland lost at Jacksonville last week, giving the Jaguars their first win. According to STATS, no team in NFL history has lost consecutive games to winless teams in Week 7 or later.
It was hardly a perfect performance, but the Browns, who were held to 39 yards rushing and converted only 2 of 12 third downs, will take it.