Cleveland’s strong special teams play and four interceptions led to a 30-17 victory over the Saints Sunday afternoon in the Superdome.
The Saints trailed 20-3 heading into the fourth quarter, but the offense began to climb back in the game and were in position to make it a one-score game late in the final quarter.
The Browns were ahead 23-10 and New Orleans had the ball at the Cleveland 34-yard line when QB
The Saints led the Browns in total net yards by a 394-210 margin, including a 336-85 advantage in the passing game.
“Credit Cleveland for coming in here with a really good plan and taking it to us,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton. “I thought we did a lot of things well defensively but there are enough mistakes here to go around.”
Brees finished the game by completing 37 of his 56 attempts for 356 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.
New Orleans won the opening toss and elected to receive. Browns K Phil Dawson had a touchback and on a second down play, Brees found Colston for a 13-yard gain. Following an incomplete pass on first down, on second down Ivory had his first carry of the day for no gain. On third and ten, Brees threw a pass to the middle of the field that was broken up by Browns S Abram Elam.
On first down, Cleveland LT Joe Thomas was called for a false start. On first and 15, Browns QB Colt McCoy found WR Chansi Stuckey for a 13-yard gain.
The Browns then had a short gain for the first down. On second and goal at the four-yard line, McCoy was taken down by DT
New Orleans started at its 23-yard line for their next drive and Brees first handed off to Ivory for a three-yard gain. On second down, Brees was sacked by former Saints LB Scott Fujita for a ten-yard loss, which would set back the drive and eventually force New Orleans to punt. Following Morstead’s kick, Cribbs had a 17-yard return to the New Orleans 44-yard line.
On first down RB Peyton Hillis carried for an eight-yard gain. On second down, DE
On first and ten at the New Orleans 42-yard line, McCoy dropped back and threw a long pass intended for Cribbs near the corner of the end zone, where Jenkins was called for a pass interference penalty that gave Cleveland first and goal at the New Orleans five-yard line. Cleveland jumped out to a 10-0 edge on a five-yard run around the corner by Hillis.
On second and two, Ivory carried forward four yards for the first down. With a fresh first down, Brees handed off again to Ivory and he gained four yards. On second down, Ivory ran for another four. On third and two Brees dropped back and found WR Lance Moore for a first down and a gain of 11 yards.
On first and ten from the Cleveland 36, Ivory took the handoff and moved up six yards. On second down, Colston had a grab of four yards for another first down. On the next play, Ivory lost four yards on a rush. On second and 14 at the 30-yard line, Brees dropped back and found rookie TE
On third and four at the 20, New Orleans called a timeout. When they came back into the huddle, Brees found Moore wide open in the middle of the field for what appeared to be a 20-yard touchdown reception, but players on both teams were called for illegal hands to the face penalties, resulting in a replay of the down.
On the replay Brees went to Moore again and he jumped out of bounds at the 16-yard line for the first down, ending the first quarter. However at the start of the second quarter, Brees threw a pass that was picked off by Fujita and returned 16 yards.
New Orleans forced a three and out and on the ensuing punt, the ball went in the air from Moore to Graham on the return with the rookie tight end bringing the ball to midfield. WR
With the Browns close to the end zone, Hillis carried for a gain of one yard, where he was stopped by Dunbar. On second and nine, McCoy threw a pass that fell on the ground before WR Yamon Figures. On third down, McCoy completed a pass to WR Brian Robiskie, but it was two yards short of a first down as Jenkins was there for the stop. Moore took the punt at the New Orleans 38 and returned it four yards.
On the first down play, Brees dropped back and his pass was broken up by Fujita. On second down, Ivory carried for a five-yard gain. Facing third and five, completed a throw to Graham in the middle of the field that went for a 15-yard gain and the first down. Ivory then got open in the middle for what would have been a long run, but FB Heave Evans was called for a holding penalty. Facing first and 20 at the 49-yard line, completed a pass in the flat to TE
Working with a much more manageable second-and-six, Ivory took the handoff up the middle and gained one yard. On third down, Moore was wide open and caught a pass for a 14-yard gain and the first down. Brees threw on first down, and a pass intended for Colston was broken up by Browns DB T.J. Ward. On second down, RB
Cribbs brought the ball back in the endsuing kickoff. On first down, McCoy went back in the pocket and his pass was tipped down by LB
After Roby brought the ball on the kickoff out to the 20, Brees immediately found TE Jeremy Shockey for a 12-yard gain at the two minute warning, but on the first play after the warning, his next throw was intercepted by Cleveland Bowens and he returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. New Orleans got the ball back, but another pick by Cleveland would end the half.
Cribbs took the second half opening kickoff out to the Browns 27 on a 29-yard return. On first down, McCoy, completed a 16-yard pass to Robiskie. On second down, Hillis was taken down by DT
On second down, he completed a screen to Stuckey for a four-yard gain before he was taken down by Robinson. On third and four, he threw a screen to Robiskie for only a three-yard gain, setting up a three and out. Hodges booted a 43-yard punt that was downed at the New Orleans seven.
New Orleans came out throwing for their first two plays of the second half as Brees completed a pair of long gains to Colston. However on their third first down of the series, G
Cleveland’s dynamic all-purpose player fielded a 56-yard punt. On the play, Roby was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that would give Cleveland the ball at their 41-yard line following a long break due to an injury suffered by a sideline staffer.
On first down for Cleveland, McCoy completed a pass to TE Benjamin Watson for a first down. Following an incomplete pass, Hillis carried up the middle for a two-yard gain. On third and eight from the New Orleans 39-yard line, McCoy threw a pass over the head of Robiskie, sending the Cleveland punting unit out. Moore punted the ball to Moore where he called a fair catch at the New Orleans 11-yard line.
New Orleans got a first down on a four-yard rush by Ivory and a pass to David Thomas. Graham then had his second grab of the game, this one for 11 yards and another first down. Ivory ran up the middle for four yards. On second and six at the 37, Brees completed a pass to Colston, just past the markers for a gain of seven. On the next play, Brees threw a screen to WR
New Orleans got up one yard to the 29 on the completion to Betts. On second down, Ivory, carried for three yards setting up a third-and-six. Brees found Colston for a three-yard gain, as it was initially ruled that he fumbled and lost two yards. Following a New Orleans challenge, it was ruled that Colston had not fumbled and that his knee was down at the 21-yard line setting up a fourth and one. Ivory then took the fourth and one and converted it for an eight yard gain and the first down. With first down at the 13-yard line, Brees’ first pass inside the red zone on the drive was incomplete.
On second and 10, FB Heave Evans carried for a gain of two. On third and eight, Brees completed a pass at the three-yard line to Thomas and he scampered in for the touchdown.
On the kickoff, Cribbs returned the ball to their 21, the Browns would drive past midfield on a combination of passes and runs. On first down at the New Orleans 48, Hillis gained three yards. On second down, Bell carried and was stopped by DE
Following a five-yard false start penalty by the Brown’s Dawson booted his third field goal of the game on a 48-yard kick to give the Browns a 23-10 lead with 6 minutes left in the game.
Brees led the offense to the Cleveland 43-yard line where on 3rd and eight Brees hit Colston for four-yard gain. Next play, No. 9 connects with Moore for first down at 34-yard line.
Two plays later, Brees was intercepted by Bowens and the LB returned the pick for a touchdown for the second time as he raced 64 yards down the left sideline for the score to give Cleveland a 30-10 advantage.
The Saints were able to trim the lead at the end by driving 71 yards on 11 plays and Brees found Colston in the right corner of the endzone to put the score at 30-17.
The Saints failed to convert on an onside kick and McCoy kneeled three straight plays to close out the contest.