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Saints handle struggling Eagles, 28-13

Drew Brees had less work to do than usual as his New Orleans Saints teammates picked up the slack in a 28-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo: Parker Waters).Drew Brees had less work to do than usual as his New Orleans Saints teammates picked up the slack in a 28-13 win over the Philadelphia Eagles (Photo: Parker Waters).

New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees threw for 239 yards and a pair of scores on Monday night, as the New Orleans Saints held off the sputtering Philadelphia Eagles, 28-13, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Brees completed 21-of-27 passes and extended his NFL-record streak of 51- straight games with at least one touchdown pass.

Jimmy Graham hauled in eight passes for 72 yards and a score, while Chris Ivory led the ground attack with 48 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries for the Saints (3-5), who have won 12 straight games in the month of November.

The win was also the first under interim head coach Joe Vitt, who was suspended for the season's first six games for his involvement in the team's bounty case before returning for last Sunday's 34-14 loss to Denver.

Michael Vick completed 22-of-41 passes for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but was sacked seven times behind a much-maligned offensive line, which lost starting right tackle Todd Herremans to an ankle injury in the first quarter.

LeSean McCoy carried the ball 19 times for 119 yards and DeSean Jackson added three catches for 100 yards and a score for the Eagles (3-5), who have lost four straight.

McCoy moved the Eagles across midfield with an 8-yard run on the second play of Philadelphia's second drive before rookie running back Bryce Brown took a sweep 40 yards down to the New Orleans 5.

Two plays later, Vick's pass tipped off the hand of Brent Celek and landed in the arms of Patrick Robinson, who scampered 99 yards down the right sideline for an interception return touchdown and a 7-0 Saints lead late in the first.

"We had so many opportunities in the red zone and we just didn't capitalize on them," Vick admitted. "When you get down there, you have to score points."

Facing a 4th-and-1 from the New Orleans 38 on the Eagles' next touch, McCoy took a handoff off the right edge and broke free for 34 yards to the 4-yard line, but the Eagles couldn't pick up another yard, as they settled for a 22- yard field goal from Alex Henery to pull within 7-3 early in the second.

New Orleans needed just seven plays to answer, as Marc Ingram kept the drive alive with a 5-yard surge on 3rd-and-1 before ripping off 23 yards into Philadelphia territory.

Back-to-back passes to Graham moved the Saints to the Philadelphia 22 and on the next play, Ivory finished off the 76-yard march with a 22-yard TD run to give the Saints a 14-3 edge with 8:33 left until halftime.

After a Philadelphia punt, New Orleans again made its way across midfield before Brees hit Graham for 17 yards to the Philadelphia 29.

Pierre Thomas then carried the ball twice for a total of 28 yards to the Philadelphia 1 and Brees capped the 7-play, 74-yard trek, as he faked a handoff, rolled right and found Marques Colston all alone in the back of the end zone for a 21-3 lead heading into the locker room.

Brees moved the Saints deep into Philadelphia territory on the opening series of the second half, as he hit Colston for 21 yards to the Philadelphia 9, but Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham stripped Brees on the next play before jumping on the loose ball to end the Saints' drive.

On the second play of the Eagles' ensuing possession, Vick faked a handoff, rolled left and aired it out for Jackson, who juked past a defender and raced into the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown to bring the visitors within 21-10 with 8:42 remaining in the third.

The Eagles looked poised to pull within four after New Orleans return man Travaris Cadet fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but a sack on second down handcuffed Philadelphia's ensuing touch and the Eagles were forced to settle for a 37-yard field goal from Henery to make it a 21-13 margin.

New Orleans countered with a back-breaking scoring drive, as Brees and Moore hooked up for 23 yards to the Philadelphia 30.

Ingram then picked up seven yards on consecutive plays down to the Eagles 16, and three plays later, Brees rolled right and found Graham, who shrugged off Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks and waltzed into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown grab to give the Saints a 28-13 edge with just over a minute left in the third.

The Eagles appeared to score a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff when Riley Cooper took a cross-field lateral from Brandon Boykin 94 yards down the right sideline for a score.

However, Boykin's toss was clearly a forward lateral, forcing the Eagles' possession to start from their own 3-yard line.

After the teams exchanged punts early in the fourth, Vick led the Eagles deep into New Orleans territory as he scrambled for 15 yards before hitting McCoy for 14 more to the New Orleans 29.

A pair of penalties and a sack forced the Eagles into a 3rd-and-goal from the 22 later in the drive and Vick hit Celek for 14 yards, but Celek fumbled the football and New Orleans defensive back Isa Abdul-Quddus jumped on the loose ball with just over three minutes remaining.

The Eagles forced a three-and-out to re-gain possession, but Vick's fourth down pass on the ensuing drive fell incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.

Notes: Celek (256) is now tied with former Eagles tight end John Spagnola for second all-time in receptions by a Philadelphia tight end ... It was Herremans' 100th career start ... Robinson's interception return touchdown tied former New Orleans safety Darren Sharper for the longest interception return for a touchdown in Saints' history ... Former Saints safety Tim Gleason, who is confined to a wheelchair because of ALS, was taken by ambulance from the Superdome to the hospital. He is responsive and alert ... The Saints have won their last eight games on Monday Night Football.




* With the win, New Orleans improves to 3-5 heading into their Week ten contest against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which will be regionally televised on FOX at noon CST on Sunday.

* The win extends New Orleans' win streak on Monday Night Football to eight games, the NFL's longest active streak. The last team to win at least eight straight was the San Francisco 49ers from 1996-99.

* The win extends New Orleans' win streak in the month of November, dating back to 2009, to 12 games.

* QB Drew Brees completed 21 of 27 passes for 239 yards with two touchdowns and a 128.2 passer rating. Brees extended his NFL-record streak of games with 20 or more completions to 44.

* Brees' one-yard touchdown pass to WR Marques Colston in the second quarter extended his NFL-record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 51.

* Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 93 of his 103 starts as a Saint and has 93 multiple-TD games in his NFL career, the third-most among active NFL quarterbacks.

* RB Chris Ivory enjoyed his first action of the season and carried 10 times for a team-best 48 yards, including a second quarter 22-yard touchdown run.

* RB Mark Ingram got his first start of 2012 and led New Orleans in rushing with seven carries for 44 yards, including a season-high 23-yard run in the second quarter. Ingram also had two receptions for 23 yards.

* RB Pierre Thomas was also extremely productive, rushing six times for 44 yards and recording two receptions for 26 yards. Thomas also had a 38-yard kickoff return.

* With his second-quarter touchdown grab, Colston now has 54 career touchdowns, as he surpassed RB Dalton Hilliard for sole possession of second place on the club's all-time list for touchdowns.

* WR Lance Moore had two receptions for 61 yards. Moore had a season-long first quarter 38-yard reception and in the third quarter had a 23-yard third down reception that kept alive a touchdown drive.

* Moore now has 3,277 receiving yards for his career, as he surpassed TE Henry Childs to move into eighth place on the club's all-time list.

* TE Jimmy Graham led New Orleans in receiving, recording a season-high eight catches for 72 yards. His third quarter six-yard touchdown reception gave New Orleans a 27-13 lead.

* Graham now has 21 career touchdown receptions, moving into a tie for second place all-time among Saints tight ends with Hoby Brenner and into a tie for tenth with Brenner overall in the club's all-time list for receiving touchdowns.

* CB Patrick Robinson's 99-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter tied the Saints franchise record for longest interception return in team history. S Darren Sharper also had a 99-yard return for a touchdown against the New York Jets on October 4, 2009. It was Robinson's first career touchdown.

* Robinson's score was the first defensive touchdown by the Saints since a 30-yard fumble return by S Malcolm Jenkins vs. Atlanta on Dec. 26, 2011 (also on Monday night) and the first interception return for a touchdown by the Saints since CB Leigh Torrence's 42-yard return vs. Indianapolis on Oct. 23, 2011.

* S Malcolm Jenkins led the team with 13 tackles (seven solo).

* The Saints defense finished with seven sacks of Eagles QB Michael Vick, the most by a New Orleans defense since Oct. 13, 2002, when the Saints also had seven sacks at Washington.

* DE Cameron Jordan had a career-high three sacks among his six tackles. Jordan, who also had a forced fumble, is the first Saint with at least three sacks in a game since Charles Grant on Sept. 26, 2004, at St. Louis.

* DE Will Smith posted two sacks, tying his career-high. It was the ninth time in Smith's career he's posted two sacks.





"The offense got the running game going. I was proud of our football team to be able to be improve on some things we really worked on and emphasized this week. Make no mistake, we've got a long way to go. We've got to tackle better defensively, and we'll continue to work on that. The red zone defense, the pressure ... was very encouraging.

"Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) and our players have worked very, very hard from day one. This is a credit to their work ethics and the way they've stuck together.

"Offensively, we were able to get this running game going. We shuffled our backs in and out. We made plays down the field when we had to. I thought our offensive line, for the most part, protected well against a Philadelphia Eagles defensive line that is known for penetration and pressure."

(on the running game) "I think we had some set plays that we felt good about. We went back to doing some of the things we've always done around here by formation, people and shuffling our backs in and out. I thought the offensive line did a good job with their pad level. We tried to keep them off balance with our cadence. We have a lot of work of do, but certainly it was encouraging."

"We take one game at a time. We had some improvement tonight, which was encouraging. (I'm) happy and proud of the coaching staff and our players for their work habits, commitment and togetherness, but we start all over again tomorrow with our next opponent. We'll see. It's a work in progress. I've said this a million times – every week takes on a life of its own. We've got to worry about matchups, who's healthy and who's dinged and the opponent you're playing. We're going to go back to work tonight – we've got a short week – and get ready for our next opponent, Atlanta."

(on Patrick Robinson's interception) "That was a big play. That was a 14-point swing – the seven we got and the seven they didn't. We've made plays before in the red zone, we work awful hard in the red zone and coaches prepare our players to play well in the red zone. I think our players are really starting to get some confidence in the way Spags wants this defense to be played in the red zone. It was great."

(on pass rush) "I thought we had a good rush plan all week long. Michael (Vick) has taken some big hits this year. I don't know that his escapability, maybe because of some of the hits he took, was as good as it was four or five years ago. We had a good rush plan. We kept our people fresh. We had a good week of practice. When you prepare well, it gives you a chance to compete well."

(on use of timeouts) "I have a long way to go. I've need to get better. We were able to take some time outs in the first half to get the ball back to the offense – I think there was 43 seconds left. We took some shots down the field and it didn't work out, but at least we put the offense in a position to get some points. I think the game kind of dictated there wasn't going to be a lot of critical time management down the stretch. I've got to get better everyday."

(on Chris Ivory) "Chris is a powerful back. He runs with a good pad level. He's one of those unique backs that can make the first guy miss or he can run over him. He's grown as a back. He's more secure in the offense. Obviously, we trust him as a back; we like Chris. It was exciting to see him run well."

(on the report about Sean Payton's contract) "I haven't seen the report or heard the report. I've heard the people, second-hand, tell the report to me. Seventy-five percent of things that are reported aren't true anyway, so I don't want to have any comment. This team loves Sean, and Sean loves this team. This city loves Sean, and Sean loves this city. I think that's a tough combination to beat."

(on allowing 400 total yards) "I don't understand about total yards. Points against, red zone defense, turnovers and pressure on the quarterback (are the statistics that matter most). We were able to get that accomplished. I am fully aware that they had some big plays called back. That's the fun of coaching – to try to improve and get better every week. Total yards - those are stats. When we won the Super Bowl, we were 26th in the league in total defense. We forced turnovers, gave good field position to the offense. Stats are what they are."

(on offensive tempo) "It was something that was an emphasis this week. Our offense works very hard on tempo. We were better this week. Our guys are professionals. When you tell them what a key to victory is, they work hard on it and it carried over into the game. We had good tempo. We were in and out, up and down, on and off. Personnel groupings were on and off the field. The tempo in and out of the huddle, the motions, the shifts, we got better. We got a long way to go."

(on red zone defense) "If you hold them out, the advantage is to the defense. If they score, the advantage is to the offense. We held them out, so I would think that advantage won."


"I thought the tempo was good. I thought the balance was good. I thought we made some plays in both the run and pass game, really sustained drives, great on third down, good when we got in the red zone. Today was very efficient. We really didn't run that many plays, surprisingly. I think it was 52 plays, which is kind of on the low side for us, but that's because their offense was doing a good job of handling the football. Our defense did a phenomenal job of keeping them out of the end zone and getting two key turnovers at critical times."

"I actually believe they'll be back, but I think I know as much about it as you do.

(on offensive line) "I trust those guys with my life, literally. They did a phenomenal job today, both in the run game and the pass game. At times, we had to hold up for a long time to let routes work down the field, and they allowed that to happen. We were able to make a few big plays. A lot of credit goes to the O-line tonight."

"Tonight was fun. When you're moving the ball offensively, when you're scoring points, when you're rallying around your defense when they make a big play – that interception return, almost 100 yards, that's a 14-point swing. That's a huge, huge play in the game, especially at the start of the game, when you're trying to build some confidence and get rolling, that's a great way to do it."

(on running backs) "Those guys did a great job. When given the opportunity, they made the most of it. We've got a stable of backs – a good problem to have. A lot of guys, the ball can only get touched so many times. You try to find ways to balance it out among all the guys we have on offense. In the end, we've got a great group of guys and there's no selfish guys. Everybody knows their opportunities will come. Everybody knows that on any given Sunday, any given game, we're going to feed it to the hot hand. There's times when one of those guys is going to get 15-20 carries a game, other games it might be another guy catching the ball 15 times like (Darren) Sproles did this year. They never know, but they know to be ready."

(on goals) "Let's see if we can win eight straight to finish the season. That'd be a good goal. Obviously, the position we're in right now, it's never more important than one foot in front of the other, one game at a time and just thinking about the next opponent on a short week. Atlanta comes in here undefeated, a very good football team, a divisional rival. This would be a huge victory for us and a great way to continue this run."

(on Pierre Thomas) "He's the most tenured guy in that room as far as being with the Saints. Pierre's been here a long time. Pierre's traveled the hard road, too. Pierre came in as an undrafted free agent, really had no chance of making the team when we came in and yet he'd always show up and we knew what to expect out of him. He grinded it out on special teams and before you know it, he started the last game of that '07 season (at Chicago) and rushed for 100 (yards) and had over 100 receiving as well. He established himself through hard work and perseverance as a mainstay in that backfield. Chris Ivory has a chance to do that. Travaris Cadet has a chance to do that. They're both undrafted free agents as well. Having a model like that, the way Pierre conducts himself as a pro and the road he's traveled."

(on Jimmy Graham) "I don't want to embarrass him, but I love Jimmy and trust him completely. He's the big man, he's the matchup. (There's) never a time where I feel like he's not going to make the play for us, for the team, to keep the drive going, catch a ball in the end zone, make the big play, whatever it is. I love his fire, passion and drive. He's young, so we've got to keep him humble and keep him thinking about getting better each day. I love having him on my team."

(on defensive performance) "That was huge. The most important stat at the end of the day is points. A lot of things happen in between that – there's yards, there's third-down conversions, there's red-zone efficiency, turnovers and all that. In the end, it doesn't matter if they put up 500 yards of offense, if you can take it away twice, you can return one for a touchdown, you can keep them out of the end zone when they're inside the 10-yard line after we fumble a kickoff. The defense came up with some big plays tonight, huge plays. Hold a team to 13 points, we're going to win a lot of games.

(on this team) "We got the right type of guys. We're really a veteran group. Every year, it's about coming together and finding your identity. You need some good things to happen to build confidence. There's these defining moments throughout a season – big plays, big wins, team efforts, individual play, whatever it might be that kind of brings you together and lets you see a vision of what you can be, what you can accomplish. Here we are at the midway point. It's gone by fast. We've played well at times. I feel like it hasn't always been as consistent as we would like, but with the exception of last week in Denver, I truly believe we've gotten a little bit better each week, culminating in this victory tonight. This was a great team win. Offensively, I felt like we were very efficient with the opportunities we were given. Defense came up with some huge plays against a very explosive Eagles offense. This is the type of momentum we want going into the second half of the season."


(on the play of the defensive line) "We saw earlier in the week on film that they were giving up a lot of sacks and letting Michael Vick get hit a lot. We're glad that the defensive line got together and capitalized on that. It's all about the defensive line getting after it."

(on his sack-forced fumble) "I liked it. We just seized the opportunities that were presented to us."


(on if the defense played with more intensity tonight) "I think so. The sense of urgency is high. We're climbing up a mountain and we've got to keep fighting. We know we didn't play well last week, so we wanted to come out and have a better performance."

(on the pass rush) "We think we had a good pass rush on the defensive line. The problem is we never got into a situation the last couple of weeks to really rush the passer. We gave up a lot of yards rushing and teams were able to control us. Today, they got a couple of big runs here and there, but we were able to contain them."


(on the running game) "In the beginning, I told the guys that we needed to set the tone. We knew going into the game that we were going to use Mark (Ingram) and Chris (Ivory) a lot tonight. I told them that it was going to start with them. I told them to set the tone early and the team will rally behind that. I told them to go out there and run hard."

(on tonight's performance giving the running game confidence) "It will give us a lot of confidence. It shows us that we can run the ball no matter what. We can run the ball as a group. We just have to go out there and establish it. The offensive line did a heck of a job of opening up holes. The receivers did a great job of blocking down field. We all came together and worked as a team. Everything out there was smooth."


(on the red zone defense) "I thought we gave up some big plays, but we played together once we got to the red zone. We played fast. We held them to field goals or no points. It was great from a momentum standpoint. We played well tonight in the red zone and have been playing better there the last couple of weeks."


(on his play tonight) "I definitely think tonight was a step forward for me. I've been trying to get off this ankle for three or four weeks now. I finally got push tonight. I've been rehabbing it every day. I'm going to keep taking those steps forward. We've got Atlanta next week on a short week, so I've got to get in the treatment room and get ready for next week."





"There are several problems to the game when you are 0-5 in the red zone, you have seven sacks and your tackling is terrible, you are going to struggle to win football games in this league. As coaches and as players, we obviously have to do a better job and that starts with me."

(on the tackling of the defense not improving with new personnel) "Well, we have to tackle. That is what you have to do. When you are put in the position to tackle, you have to get the guy down. We have to analyze if the guys are in the position to make the tackle or are they out of position? When you are put in the position to make the tackle, that's what you do."

(on the first interception) "The ball got tipped. I thought there was a fairly aggressive play on the tight end, it was questionable, but you have to make the plays. I felt like he was restricted a bit to get to the ball."

(at 3-5, what can you do as a head coach to get back in it) "You stick with your fundamentals, your basics and you keep practicing. Practice harder. You correct the mistakes. These are correctable mistakes. We have to do better than that."

(on the same mistakes not being corrected week in and week out) "In the red zone, those are not the same mistakes. We are not scoring there and you have to make sure that you score there. With the tackling, we've had a couple weeks here where we haven't been tackling well and we need to make sure that we get back to doing that better."

(on if he is concerned his players are not responding right now) "If I saw they weren't playing hard, I'd question it, but I think they played hard."

(on the offensive line struggling) "The guys need to keep working at it and get better. With some of those sacks you can look at coverage, and with some you can look at play calling, but we have to do better. The bottom line is we have to block the guys and do a better job."


"We are out there, fighting as hard as we can, giving it everything we got. I love each and every guy in that locker room. And if I could make every play right I would. And I know they would do the same."

"We had so many opportunities in the red zone and we just didn't capitalize. And that's tough. We worked on the red zone all week and when you get down there you've got to score points."

(on interception return for TD by Saints) "No, that wasn't an audible. It was an all out blitz by them and I actually thought we were going to get a holding call. But we didn't get the holding call and it was a tipped ball and it turned out to be a turnover in the red zone, and that's not good."

"It's very frustrating. We are coming out and playing games against teams we have opportunities to win (against). But when you get that chance everything has to come together. You have to be dead on and capitalize and you can't miss. You almost have to be perfect on every drive. It's very frustrating but you have to keep pushing forward."

"I am out there as a competitor trying to win. And I know I can do a better job in getting the ball out quicker. As the quarterback of this football team I take full responsibility. And you have to take advantage of every opportunity, and that means scoring points. Especially in this league, playing against a player like Drew Brees; he's one of the best players in the league."

"We try and go out and play every game for all of us - as players and for our coaches. As an organization we are not thinking about the situation at hand. When you step out on that field you are playing for one another. It's difficult at times but you've got to keep the course. It is what it is. We've got to keep our heads up high. We've just got to get wins. I care about this football team, and when you don't get wins its going to be rough. But to turn things around we have to win."

"I don't think it's too late, even at 3-5. We've just got to get better in all phases of the game. We've got to get better on offense, on defense, on special teams. We've got to block better, tackle better - everything you guys saw out there we've got to do better."


"I don't care what other people say because I'm a Coach (Andy) Reid guy. I love Coach Reid to death and I'm behind him 100 percent. We've just got to work through this - as a team and in practice. And whatever happens upstairs is way out of our control. All we can control is what's going on the field. And that means we have to play a lot better."

"We just didn't get it done in the red zone tonight. We had those two turnovers in the third quarter to make it a one possession game. But we just didn't convert. And you can't do that - especially playing in another team's stadium, in front of a hostile crowd."


"I just feel bad for the entire team: our quarterback, coach - everybody. If I had the answer about how to fix how we're playing, we would have won tonight."

"There were a lot of small things that added up out there that caused us to lose. Yes we were running the ball great, but then we got into the red zone and couldn't score. I know what you guys are asking. But it's not all Coach Reid's fault. All he (Reid) can do is put us in the right position to make the plays. And then it's up to us to execute the plays and compete. Right now we're just not getting it done."


(on 77-yard touchdown catch) "They actually blitzed on that play, and Michael (Vick) threw it up there and let me catch it on the run. And that freed me up a little bit to make a play. And it was a big play for us at the time."

"It's really frustrating to gain 400 plus yards and lose by the score we did. I mean if we gain that much we should score at least 30 points. There are a lot of things going on, but we aren't pointing fingers at anyone. We've just got to find a way to get through this. All I can do is keep the energy up, working hard in practice and trying to convince everyone to keep fighting."

"Our team is too talented to play like this. And we can't keep sitting around worrying about changes. It all starts this week in practice. We're having great practices and preparing the right way, but it's just not translating onto the field."


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