Drew Brees made a triumphant return to the New Orleans Saints lineup in leading his team to a dramatic 26-20 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome with an 80-yard touchdown to C.J. Spiller on the second play of overtime.
The amazing ending capped a back-and-forth game and helped make up for kicker Zach Hocker's miss from 30 yards in the closing seconds of regulation.
Brees, who missed the first game of his NFL career due to injury last week against Carolina, was a precise 33 for 41 for 359 yards to lead the Saints to their first win of 2015 and end a six-game home losing streak. Brees completed the 5,000th pass of his career in the first quarter and threw for his 399th and 400th touchdowns Sunday. Tight end Josh Hill secured a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter for No. 399 and Spiller's catch and run was No. 400. Brees reached the 400-TD mark in 205 games, fastest in NFL history.
The touchdown catch is the biggest play of Spiller's brief Saints career and came after Coach Sean Payton said earlier in the week he wanted to get the former Bills running back the ball more. The catch was Spiller's fifth of the game and accounted for most of his 99 receiving yards. Willie Snead had six catches for 89 yards and Mark Ingram had six for 51 yards. Ingram was the team's leading rusher with 17 carries for 77 yards.
After trailing 10-7 at halftime the Saints (1-3) took over in the second half scoring on a 1-yard Khiry Robinson touchdown run and two Hocker field goals (51 and 29 yards). It looked like the Saints would win 20-13 until Dallas quarterback Brandon Weeden connected with Terrance Williams on a 17-yard scoring pass on fourth and 17 to tie the score with 1:51 to play. Brees quickly marched the Saints down the field only to see Hocker miss.
The Saints won the toss and elected to receive. After a Brees incompletion to running back Khiry Robinson, who had a 1-yard scoring run earlier in the game, Brees hit Spiller down the right sideline and the team's top offseason pickup did the rest, taking it 80 yards for the win. Dallas is now 2-2.
The game also marked the return of two key members of the secondary, cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Jairus Byrd. Saints rookies Hau'oli Kikaha, Stephone Anthony and Tyeler Davison each recorded a sack.
Hocker had to punt and kick off for the Saints in the fourth quarter after Thomas Morstead left the game with an injury. The Cowboys lost linebacker Sean Lee to a concussion early in the game.
The Saints will play at the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday at noon.