San Diego - The New Orleans Saints defense forced two fourth quarter fumbles that led to two touchdowns and an improbable 35-34 comeback victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.
It's the Saints first win of the season and it didn't look like it was going to happen when the Chargers took possession following a New Orleans punt late in the fourth quarter. But San Diego running back Melvin Gordon fumbled after being hit by Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell with Darryl Tapp recovering. Drew Brees quickly converted that into a 5-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas to make it 34-28 San Diego with 4:50 to play.
On the first play of the Chargers (1-3) next possession Philip Rivers hit Travis Benjamin over the middle and he promptly fumbled, which was recovered by linebacker Nate Stupar at the 25-yard line
The Saints cashed that in on a 1-yard touchdown run by fullback John Kuhn, his third score of the day.
The Saints defense sealed the game with B.W. Webb intercepted Rivers on fourth-and-22 with 1:10 to play.
The Saints made several changes to the starting defensive unit. Rookie Vonn Bell started in place of Jairus Byrd, Craig Robertson played middle linebacker in place of James Laurinaitis and Michael Mauti and Nate Stupar started at outside linebackers.
Brees was 23 of 36 for 206 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, one coming on a tipped ball and the second coming after Thomas fell coming out of his cut. The Chargers turned that pick into a 47-yard Josh Lambo field goal.
It was Brees' first time back in Qualcomm Stadium since he left the Chargers following the 2005 season and signed with the Saints. Brees is now 3-0 against his former team. He celebrated the win with a large contingent of Saints fans who made the trip to San Diego.
The Saints used a diverse rushing attack with Ingram, Tim Hightower, Daniel Lasco and Kuhn all getting carries. Kuhn had a 4-yard touchdown catch and a 1-yard touchdown run. Ingram carried 18 times for 57 yards and had six receptions for 49 yards.
Saints defensive end Paul Kruger left the game with a back injury.
The Saints (1-3) have their bye this week and won't play again until they host the Carolina Panthers (1-3) on Sunday, Oct. 16 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Saints stat leaders
Brees, 23 of 36, 206 yards with two TDs and two interceptions
Ingram, 18 for 57 yards, six catches for 49 yards
Thomas, four catches for 44 yards and one TD
Chargers stat leaders
Rivers, 28 of 43 for 321 yards with two TDs and one interception
Gordon, 19 carries for 36 yards and two TDs
Dontrelle Inman, seven catches for 120 yards