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John DeShazier: New Orleans Saints top performers vs. San Diego

Drew Brees gets offensive honors

OFFENSE: Sorry, John Kuhn. No, really, I'm sorry and extend apologies to the Saints' fullback, who had a whale of a game in the 35-34, comeback victory against San Diego. He scored two rushing touchdowns and caught a TD pass, finished with five yards on three carries and two catches for seven yards (his last catch, a 3-yarder, set up his final 1-yard run which provided the game-winning points). But this game belongs to Drew Brees, whose emotional pregame speech stirred anyone with the ability to comprehend the words. It wasn't a Brees-type of passing game (23 of 36 for 206 yards, with touchdowns and two interceptions). But it was his game nonetheless because it was the first time he has played in Qualcomm Stadium since the final game of the 2005 season, when he wrecked his shoulder, and now admits he wondered whether the damage was so significant that he might never play again. It wasn't, and he has gone on to construct a Hall of Fame career with the Saints. This one's for Drew.

DEFENSE: Safeties Kenny Vaccaroand Vonn Bellshare this one, Vaccaro for wrapping up Chargers running back Melvin Gordonand Bell for knocking the ball loose when the Saints desperately needed possession of it in the fourth quarter. Their collaboration allowed defensive end Darryl Tappto recover the fumble at San Diego's 13-yard line with 6:40 left, setting off the chain of events that led to New Orleans erasing a 13-point deficit with less than half a quarter remaining. True, there was more work to do after the play. But Vaccaro and Bell started it with that play, with Vaccaro (four tackles, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry) returning to action after missing last Monday's game against Atlanta with an ankle injury, and Bell (six tackles and the forced fumble) making his second NFL start.

SPECIAL TEAMS: It's becoming difficult to put a value on punter Thomas Morsteadthese days. But his five punts, for a 45.2-yard *net *average (51.2-yard gross), helped keep the Saints out of trouble several times on Sunday. His 62-yarder pinned the Chargers at their 4-yard line in the third quarter (the defense held and forced a punt), and he followed that with a 59-yarder on his next punt to help flip the field again. San Diego averaged 10 yards on three punt returns, but Morstead's distance and hang time continue to impress after four games.

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