The Saints led the Cardinals 13-10 with 9:05 left in the third quarter but Arizona went on a 10-0 run and capitalized on Saints turnovers to claim a 30-20 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday afternoon.
The Saints outgained the Cardinals in net yards by a 358-194 but four turnovers, including three in the fourth quarter, handicapped the Saints chances of regaining the lead. The Saints and Cardinals nearly spilt the game down the middle in time of passions with Saints holding the ball for 30:01.
Brees completed 24 of his 39 attempts for 279 yards and two scores. WR Marques Colston led all receivers with seven catches for 97 yards. WR Robert Meachem chipped in with four catches for 57 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown. WR Devery Henderson added four receptions for 61 yards.
Ladell Betts, who go the start at running back for the Saints, rushed with 44 yards on 10 attempts. RB Chris Ivory also notched 10 attempts and colleted 39 yards.
Defensively, rookie DB Patrick Robinson led all players with a game-best eight tackles.. LB Jonathan Vilma registered seven total tackles and a sack. S Roman Harper totaled seven takedowns.
After withstanding a 60-yard return by Cardinals RB LaRod Stephens-Howling on the opening kickoff, CB Jabari Greer picked off Arizona QB Max Hall, making his first NFL start on a third down play and returned it 26 yards to the Cards 49-yard line.
New Orleans advanced the ball to the 13-yard line on pass plays for first downs to TE Jeremy Shockey and Henderson. Following an 11-yard thrown to Colston to put the Saints in the red zone, K John Carney kicked a 31-yard field goal on fourth down.
When Arizona got the ball back, the Cardinals were only able to get to their 35-yard line before they were forced to punt.
The Saints got the ball back at their 24-yard line and Betts rushed for six yards on the first play. Following a second down incompletion, New Orleans got a first down when Arizona DT Alan Branch was penalized on a neutral zone infraction. Following a first down incompletion to Colston,
Brees found Betts for a 14-yard gain on a screen pass to move New Orleans to their 49-yard line. On the first down, Ivory was stopped for no gain. On second down, Brees completed a 27-yard pass to Colston to move New Orleans to the Arizona 24-yard line.
A screen to Betts on first down resulted in a three-yard gain. The Saints then moved into the red zone when Betts carried up the middle for an 11-yard gain and another first down. Betts then carried for an eight-yard gain up to the two-yard line. On third down, Brees found TE Jeremy Shockey for a one-yard touchdown to put New Orleans up by ten.
Howling returned a kickoff 48 yards to midfield. The Saints forced a fourth-and-one situation on solid run-stopping tackles by Vilma and Harper. However the Cardinals went for it on fourth-and-one and RB Beanie Wells gained two yards. On a second down play, Hall completed a 25-yard pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald to move the Cardinals to the New Orleans 14-yard line.
On first down inside the red zone, the Cardinals moved inside the ten on a five-yard run by Wells. On second down though, Wells was tripped up for no gain by Robinson. On third and five, Hall was taken down for a ten-yard loss by DE Alex Brown, with his first takedown as a Saint, forcing Cardinals K Jay Feely to kick a 37-yard field goal.
New Orleans was initially set back by a false start penalty on T Jon Stinchcomb on the first play of their ensuing drive, but Brees completed passes to Henderson and Colston to move the Saints back into conversion territory and Ivory gained four yards on third-and-one. Betts carried for two yards from the New Orleans 33, but then G Jahri Evans was called for holding.
Betts carried for two yards to set up a third-and-16 situation, where Brees appeared to have found WR Lance Moore for a 14-yard gain that was ruled incomplete on an Arizona challenge forcing P Thomas Morstead to punt from their 27—yard line. He booted a 39-yard punt, but Arizona would start at their 24-yard line following a penalty.
Arizona got one first down on a 26-yard pass play to Fitzgerald, but S Malcolm Jenkins broke up a potential connection between the two on second down on another long pass near the end zone. On third-and-five, Hall found Fitzgerald for the first down when he went up the middle for an eight-yard gain.
On first down, Vilma stopped Wells for only a one-yard gain, then on second down the man in the middle took down Hall for a loss of 11 yards. On third and 20, Hall threw an incompletion, forcing the Cardinals to punt. Cardinals P Ben Graham booted a 40-yard kick that was downed by DB Michael Adams at the New Orleans one-yard line.
On first down, throwing out of the end zone, Brees was picked off by Cardinals LB Paris Lenon at the four-yard line, returned two yards to the two.
On first and two for the Cardinals, Wells was stopped at the one-yard line by Vilma and LB Marvin Mitchell. On second down, Hall rolled out for a throw that was tipped out of bounds by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar. On third-and-one Hall was taken down by DL Anthony Hargrove and he fumbled, but the ball was picked up by LT Levi Brown and advanced into the end zone, which was re-affirmed by the officials following a New Orleans challenge.
New Orleans got the ball back and got in their two-minute offense mode, as Brees completed a 19-yard pass to Colston and a 39-yard throw to Henderson to move to the Arizona 14-yard line. However the Saints were unable to convert on three downs, but Carney put the Saints back in the lead with a 32-yard field goal.
Derek Anderson entered behind center for the Cardinals on Arizona's final drive of the half and the Cardinals failed to convert a first down with the half ending on fourth down.
New Orleans got the ball back at the start of the second half at their 20-yard line. Following a first down incomplete pass intended for Colston, Brees was sacked by Arizona LB Clark Haggans for a six-yard loss on second down and fumbled, but the ball was recovered by T Jon Stinchcomb. New Orleans would get back to the 18 on a four-yard pass to Henderson, but Morstead was forced to punt and he boomed a 46-yard punt that would put the Cardinals back at their 40-yard line.
Hall would return to quarterback in the third quarter and he would complete an 11-yard pass to TE Ben Patrick on the first play. On second down, Wells advanced for a five-yard gain. Hall rushed up the middle on the next play and fumbled but it was recovered by G Alan Faneca and the Cardinals had gotten a ten-yard gain out of it.
With another first down, the Cardinals went to Wells and he gained one-yard up the middle. Hall completed a pass to Patrick for an eight-yard gain, but on third and two LB Danny Clark and DT Remi Ayodele did not allow Arizona RB Tim Hightower to convert. Arizona K Jay Feely kicked a 44-yard field goal to tie the score.
WR Courtney Roby took the ball back out of the end zone for 32 yards to the New Orleans 28. Ivory ran for 24 yards on two straight first down plays. Following a false start penalty against G Jahri Evans, Brees completed a ten-yard throw to Colston and Betts made a perfect catch for a 12-yard gain to move into Arizona territory. Betts then carried four and nine-yard gains to move New Orleans into the red zone.
On first down, Ivory carried for six yards. On second and four, he completed a three-yard pass to Meachem, one yard short of the first down. On third and one, Ivory carried up the middle with some stealth blocking from the offensive line to gain four yards and the first down.
On first down and goal at the five, Brees threw an incomplete pass intended for Henderson. The Saints would be stymied in their attempts inside the five-yard line and after losing five yards on a false start, Carney would hook a field goal attempt wide right.
With the Cardinals getting the ball back at their 20, Wells carried for three yards and then completed passes to WRs Andrew Roberts and Fitzgerald to advance to the Arizona 37-yard line as time ended in the third quarter.
The Cardinals moved into New Orleans territory on a Hall pass play to Fitzgerald for 17 yards, where 15 more were tacked on a facemask penalty assessed to Jenkins. However, the Saints would hold the Cardinals in the red zone, forcing Feely to kick a 29-yard field goal.
The Saints would get in a deeper hole when they got the ball back as Betts had the ball forced out of his hands by Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett and it was recovered by S Kerry Rhodes and returned 27-yards for a touchdown.
On the following drive, Brees was intercepted by DB Greg Toler on a pass that was intended for Shockey. Arizona got the ball at their 38-yard line with nine minutes left in the game.
Cardinals and Saints went three-and-out on the next three drives. With 3:25, the Saints got the ball back at their 18-yard line. The Saints drive to the Arizona 35-yard line where Brees connected with WR Robert Meachem for No. 17's first score of the season.
With the Saints trailing 23-20, Carney attempted an onside kick but Fitzgerald recovered it. On 3rd and eight at the New Orleans 33-yard line, Hall completed a pass to TE Ben Patrick and Patrick coughed of the ball at the 25-yard line where Fitzgerald recovered it/ The Saints got the ball back at their nine-yard line. On first down, Brees threw his third interception of the game to DB Dominique Rogers-Cromartie who returned it for a 28-yard touchdown to seal the Arizona victory.