QB Drew Brees led the Saints on a valiant fourth quarter, seven play-68 yard touchdown drive, ending with a three-yard touchdown pass to WR Marques Colston, leading them to a 34-30 come-from-behind victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. It was the fifth victory in a row for New Orleans.
"I was proud that we hung in there despite falling behind," said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton "But the penalties were still way too much – 10 for 100 yards is awful. We did some good things but we still have a lot to correct."
Brees became the club's all-time passing yardage leader with 21,932 as he completed 24-of-29 passes for 313 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. RB Chris Ivory carried 15 times for 117 yards with two touchdowns, including a 55-yard scoring run. WR Robert Meachem had three receptions for 106 yards, including 49 and 52-yard grabs.
"Our mindset was that this was going to be a battle," said WR Robert Mechaem. "This is five in a row. Nothing is easy and we just hung in there and gave ourselves the chance at the end"
While head coach Sean Payton was happy with the resilience, he said that there will be plenty of things to clean up this week in review
"We need to clean up the penalties and some of the foolish stuff with 11 penalties. Those continue the drives for the other team and limited ours."
The Bengals won the coin toss and elected to receive. Starting at their own 28, Bengals RB Cedric Benson was brought down by DT Sedrick Ellis for only a gain of three yards on the first play from scrimmage. On second down Bengals QB Carson Palmer handed off to Benson again, where he gained three yards before he was stopped by DT Remi Ayodele. Palmer went to the air for the first time on third down, when he threw to TE Jermaine Gresham, however the rookie was pushed out of bounds by LB Jonathan Vilma one yard short of the first down marker, sending P Kevin Huber out. Porter fielded the 55-yard punt at the eight and had a seven-yard return. A holding penalty on LB Danny Clark would move New Orleans' starting position to the four.
Bush took the opening handoff and rushed for ten yards to the 14 before being stopped by former Saints LB Dhani Jones. Ivory took the next handoff and advanced two yards. On second and eight, Brees threw to WR Lance Moore near the Saints sideline for a gain of nine yards and a first down. With a fresh set of downs, Brees completed a pass to a wide-open Marques Colston, who advanced to the New Orleans 31-yard line on a 43-yard completion. With a fresh set of downs, Brees completed a pass to WR Devery Henderson for no gain. On second down, Brees handed off to Bush who gained four yards. On third and six, Brees was sacked by Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap and DT Geno Atkins, setting up a fourth and 14. The Bengals were penalized for a running into the kicker penalty on P Thomas Morstead's punt, moving the Saints to the 30-yard line where Hartley successfully kicked a 48-yard field goal.
Taking the ball back at the 39-yard line, Benson gained six yards on the first play of Cincinnati's drive. On second down though, a pass from Palmer to WR Terrell Owens was broken up by LB Scott Shanle. On the third down play, S Malcolm Jenkins snuffed out a two-yard pass to Bengals FB Brian Leonard, forcing the Bengals to punt. Huber had a 58-yard punt that was downed at the five.
After being called for a holding penalty, RB Julius Jones advanced four yards on second down to the seven-yard line to set up third and eight. Following a Saints timeout, Brees dropped back and completed a pass for a gain of four yards to Jones, which sent the punting unit out.
Cincinnati would start at their 47. Following a one-yard run by Bengals RB Bernard Scott, Palmer was dropped for a six-yard loss by Vilma. The Bengals would move the chains though when Palmer completed a 17-yard pass to Gresham. Following a false start penalty and an incomplete pass intended for WR Chad Ochocinco, Scott rushed for 18 yards and a first down. After Palmer and Owens failed to complete a throw, Bengals TE Reggie Kelly was called for holding on second down, pushing the Bengals back to the New Orleans 38. On second and 20, Gresham dropped a pass up the middle. Palmer then completed a pass to WR Jordan Shipley for an eight-yard gain before being pushed out by CB Tracy Porter. Facing fourth and 12, Palmer completed a pass to Bengals TE Chase Coffman for the first down. Scott carried for a four-yard gain with a fresh set of downs before he was tackled by DE Jeff Charleston on the final play of the first quarter. Benson then would rush five yards to set up a third and one. Following an illegal formation penalty on Bengals T Anthony Collins, Palmer's third down pass to Owens only gained two yards, forcing the Bengals to kick a field goal which tied the score.
FB Heath Evans picked up the kickoff and proceeded to run it back 13 yards. Following a seven-yard pass to Moore and a six-yard run by Ivory, the rookie runner made a cutback and outraced several Cincinnati defenders for a 55-yard touchdown to give the Saints a 10-3 lead.
Scott returned Hartley's kickoff 41 yards to put Cincinnati at their 45. Following a defensive pass interference penalty on Porter that put the Bengals at the New Orleans ten, S Roman Harper stopped Benson for a loss of four yards. Benson then carried for four yards before being stopped by Jenkins. On third down, Palmer connected with Owens for a five-yard gain, where the mercurial wideout was stopped by CB Jabari Greer five yards short of the first down, forcing the Bengals to kick another field goal.
On their next offensive drive, New Orleans failed to manage a first down and had to punt. With the Bengals taking the ball back, Palmer connected with Owens on a 20-yard pass play. Benson then rushed for two yards and completed a pass for seven to Shipley. However on third down, Benson couldn't gain ground and DT Sedrick Ellis forced a fumble that was recovered by the runner. Going for it on fourth and one, Palmer completed a 23-yard pass to the New Orleans 14 to Gresham. The Bengals then advanced to the six on an eight-yard throw to Owens. A second down fade route into the end zone was successfully defended by Porter and on third and two, Palmer handed off to Benson who got only one yard before being stopped by DL Anthony Hargrove. On fourth down, the Bengals would eschew the field goal attempt and put a run formation in. Vilma and his teammates successfully diagnosed it and he and Harper stopped Benson for a two yard loss on a valiant goal line stand to give the Saints the ball back.
Upon getting the ball back, Brees handed off to Ivory who gained one yard. On second down, Brees threw to TE Jeremy Shockey for a ten-yard gain. With a fresh set of downs, Ivory carried and had the ball pulled out of his hands, but the recovery was made by TE David Thomas setting up second and nine. Following a holding penalty on G Carl Nicks, Brees threw a screen to Bush who gained nine yards and then found WR Robert Meachem for a 12-yard gain. With a first and ten at their own 30 following a timeout to stop the clock, New Orleans was penalized for a false start by C Jonathan Goodwin. Brees and TE Jimmy Graham then put the Saints in scoring position with an 11-yard throw to Graham and then a 52-yard bomb to the former basketballer that made him the club's all-time passing yardage leader. At the Cincinnati 12-yard line, Brees completed a six-yard throw to Moore. Following a pair of incomplete passes, Hartley and the field goal unit came out and the Saints kicker booted a 24-yarder to give the Saints a seven-point lead. The Bengals could not take advantage of their final drive of the half as Ellis ended it with a takedown of Palmer, giving him a new career-high with five sacks.
New Orleans started with the ball in the second half. On a second-and-14, Ivory ripped off a 21-yard run and then gained four more as the Saints moved into Bengals territory. On third and six, Brees completed a 19-yard throw to Colston, followed by a nine-yard pass to Graham to set up second and one. Brees then handed off to Ivory, who rushed up the middle for one yard and the first down. However, the Saints would lose five yards on an illegal substitution penalty. On second and 15, Brees handed off to Bush, but Evans was called for a holding penalty. With a first and 21 at the 26, a throw was completed to Moore to get back five of the yards. The signal caller then found a diving Shockey up the middle for an 18-yard gain, putting the Saints at first and goal at the three. Ivory pulled ahead two yards to the one before barreling in for the touchdown on the next try.
Hartley's kick would go out of bounds, giving the Bengals the ball at the 40. Following a screen to Benson for a three-yard gain, the Bengals runner got a first down with a seven-yard carry to midfield. However with the fresh set of downs, C Kyle Cook was called for holding on the next play to bring the Bengals back ten yards. Palmer dropped back and completed a pass to Benson that gained 11 yards. However Vilma broke up the second down passing attempt to Leonard. The Bengals would regroup and Palmer and Ochocinco connected for a 33-yard completion to put the Bengals in the red zone. Palmer handed off to Benson who broke a couple tackles on a six-yard gain. At the ten, Benson barreled ahead but gained only one yard as he was stopped in the middle of the line by Hargrove. On third and three, Palmer handed off to Leonard who gained the first down, setting up first and goal at the five. Palmer then gave the Bengals their first touchdown of the game on a connection in the end zone to Owens. However Bengals K Clint Stitser missed the extra point attempt.
New Orleans would start their next drive at the 24. Brees threw a shuttle pass to Bush on first down, but Bengals DT Domata Peko stopped him for a nine-yard loss. Ivory carried on second down and gained three yards before being stopped by Peko. On third and 16, Brees threw long to midfield and the ball was intercepted by Bengals S Reggie Nelson, with him advancing to the Saints 46-yard line on a seven-yard return before he was stopped by Moore.
On first down, Palmer connected with Ochocinco for a 20-yard play. At the 26-yard line, Benson took a handoff for a three-yard gain before he was brought down by Vilma. On second and seven, the runner took the ball again and gained three more yards before being dropped by Hargrove and Ellis. On third and four at the 20-yard line, Palmer completed a pass to Ochocinco for a nine-yard gain and a first down inside the red zone on the final play of the third quarter. On the first play of the final period, Palmer completed a seven-yard throw to Shipley before being tackled by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Benson then made a power run for a three-yard gain to the one before rushing for the score, which was followed by a successful extra point by Stitser.
New Orleans would start at their 31 and Brees started with a screen to Jones that gained six yards. Brees then handed off to Ivory, who moved past 100-yard mark with an 11-yard carry. With a fresh set of downs, Brees found a wide open Meachem for a 52-yard touchdown to put the Saints back up by eight.
With the Bengals starting at their 41, Palmer started by completing a seven-yard throw to Owens. Scott then gained two yards to set up a third and one. The Bengals were moved back six yards on a false start penalty by OL Nate Livings. Palmer completed a pass to Shipley, but he was stopped by Porter two yards behind the first down marker. The Bengals sent their punting unit out and on the play, the Saints were called for a 12 men on the field penalty which set up a Cincinnati first down and put their offense back on the field. A handoff to Scott gained 18 yards and put the Bengals at the New Orleans 28. Palmer handed off to Scott again, but he was stopped for no gain by DE Will Smith. On second down, Palmer threw a pass to Ochocinco that was initially ruled as a ten-yard gain, but following a New Orleans challenge, it was ruled that the ball hit the ground first. The combination struck right back though with a 21-yard completion setting up first and goal at the New Orleans eight. A defensive holding call on S Roman Harper moved the Bengals to the four and then Benson ran in for the touchdown. Going for two, Palmer and the Bengals tied the score on a throw to Gresham.
Starting at the 34, a screen to Bush resulted in no gain and Jones lost a yard on a carry setting up third and 11. On third down, Brees was sacked by Dunlap and Morstead and the punt team came out. The Saints punters kick went for 35 yard and was returned by Cosby to the New Orleans 44.
On first down, Palmer dropped back and found Ochocinco and was tackled by Porter at the 31. With a fresh set of downs, Palmer just overthrew Ochocinco. Benson then took the second down handoff and gained two yards before being stopped by LB Marvin Mitchell. The third down pass was incomplete bringing Stitzer out and he made the field goal.
New Orleans started at their 32 and Ivory carried for an eight-yard gain. Ivory then moved the chains with a three yard gain advancing the Saints to the 43. Brees then went to the air and Meachem came up with a 42-yard grab to advance to the Cincinnati 11. On the fresh set of downs, Ivory was stopped for a two-yard loss on the final play before the two-minute warning. Following the break Brees completed a two-yard pass to Moore and then Bush rushed for eight yards, setting up a fourth and two situation where the Saints went for it. On the play, Cincinnati was called for a neutral zone infraction to advance New Orleans to the three yard line with first and goal with 34 seconds left, where he made a touchdown completion to Colston.
"we weren't budging on that play," said OL Jahri Evans on Bengals penalty that kept the drive alive. "We made it look like a hard play when we sent Dave Thomas in motion and Drew gave a really hard count."
Scott returned the kickoff to midfield to put the Bengals in favorable field position. Following a 14-yard pass play to Leonard the Bengals called a timeout with seven seconds remaining. On the game's final play, Palmer was taken down by Harper to clinch the win for New Orleans