The New Orleans Saints rallied from a 21-7 defecit to tie the game 24-24 late in the fourth quarter but some costly penaltys and strong play by Ravens RB Ray Rice snapped the Saints six-game win streak as New Orleans fell 30-24 to Baltimore Sunday afternoon at M.T. Bank Stadium.
"Credit Baltimore because In the end, they made more plays than we did," said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. "It's disappointing and we have to get back to work tomorrow."
QB Drew Brees finished the day by completing 29 of 46 attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Rookie TE Jimmy Graham caught two of Brees' passing scores, both in the first half. Brees' third touchdown throw was a incredible tip-toe catch in the left corner of the endzone. Graham caught five passes for 28 yards.
Colston chipped in with six receptions for 80 yards.
RB Pierre Thomas led all Saints rushes with six carries for 20 yards.
Baltimore won the opening toss and deferred. New Orleans lined up with RB Pierre Thomas handling kickoff return duties in substitute for an injured Courtney Roby. Thomas took the ball at the two-yard line and brought it back to the 23-yard line. The first play was an incomplete pass. On second and ten though, QB Drew Brees went to WR Marques Colston again for a four-yard completion. Facing third and six from the 32, a pass intended for WR Robert Meachem was broken up by Ravens CB Josh Wilson forcing the punt team out. After the punt by P Thomas Morstead initially took a Baltimore bounce, the ball pushed it back and it was eventually recovered by Baltimore at the Ravens 31-yard line.
On first down, Ravens RB Ray Rice gained three yards. On second down, the third-year runner took a second handoff and was stopped for a five-yard loss by DE Will Smith. On third down, Ravens QB Joe Flacco was sacked by DT Sedrick Ellis for a ten-yard loss. Ravens P Sam Koch's punt went out of bounds at the Saints 40-yard line.
On first down, Brees' pass was complete to TE Jimmy Graham for a gain of four yards. At second and six, Brees' throw went off the fingertips of Graham. Facing a third and six, Brees and Colston moved the chains into Baltimore territory with a 12-yard completion. With a fresh set of downs, Brees handed off to Bush, who slipped and lost two yards on the run. Brees handed off to Thomas straight ahead to the Baltimore 35 for an 11-yard gain, setting up third and one. With a package with FB Heath Evans in and TE Zach Strief as a tight end, Thomas moved forward for a two-yard gain and the first down. The Saints then moved up 15 yards on a personal foul penalty against Baltimore on S Ed Reed. Brees took advantage of the down and distance and threw to Graham at the one-yard line, where Graham made an acrobatic catch and dove into the end zone.
Baltimore started at their 24-yard line. They handed off to Rice three straight times and he gained 11 yards. With a fresh set of chains, they handed off to Rice again and S Darren Sharper was called for a personal foul penalty, advancing the Ravens to the New Orleans 45. Rice carried again and was stopped by LB Jonathan Vilma for no gain. Flacco completed a nine-yard screen to Rice and then kept for a two-yard gain to give the Ravens a first down at the 29. On first down, Flacco threw a pass out of bounds to avoid Saints defenders. After RB Willis McGahee was stopped for no gain by LB Danny Clark and S Roman Harper, Flacco completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to TE Ed Dickson to tie the score.
New Orleans opened at the 28 as RB Julius Jones had a two-yard gain. On second and eight, Brees facing pressure was called for intentional grounding, setting up a loss of down and putting them back at the 16 yard line. Facing third and 21, a long attempt to Meachem was broken up by Ravens CB Ladarius Webb, sending the punt unit out. Webb called a fair catch at the Ravens 40.
Flacco handed off two straight times to Rice, who gained nine yards, setting up third and one. Flacco handed off to Rice again, who had no gain as he was stopped by Smith and Clark. On fourth-and-one though, Rice broke free for a 20-yard gain. Flacco switched things up with a handoff to McGahee, who gained five yards to the New Orleans 25. On the final play of the first quarter, McGahee carried for a seven-yard gain to the New Orleans 17. Flacco's pass intended for WR David Reed was incomplete. On second and ten, Rice carried seven yards and then on a subsequent carry, a ten-yard run put him in the end zone, giving the Ravens a 14-7 lead.
New Orleans would start their next drive at their 12-yard line. On first down, a pass intended for WR Lance Moore was incomplete. A second down pass to TE Jeremy Shockey was complete for a five-yard gain. A third down attempt for Colston was broken up by Ravens S Dawan Landry. Morstead's punt was returned by Webb 26 yards to the New Orleans 34.
On first and ten, McGahee took the first carry for a three-yard gain. A second down screen was completed to Rice and advanced for a first down to the New Orleans 17. Following a New Orleans timeout, Rice gained two yards. On second and eight, the former Rutgers runner gained three yards. On third and five, Baltimore T Michael Oher's false start penalty moved the Ravens back five yards. At the 17, Rice lined up as a receiver and caught a pass from Flacco for a touchdown.
Thomas brought out the kickoff to the 35. Jones took the opening handoff of the drive for a gain of three. On the second down play, Ravens DE Paul Kruger was called for false start, setting up a third and two by New Orleans. Ravens DE Cory Redding was then called for encroachment to move the chains to the 48. Thomas took the carry and moved the Saints to the Baltimore 49 with a three-yard gain. Brees threw a second down pass to Graham in the backfield and was stopped for no gain. On third and seven, Brees was sacked by Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe, forcing the punt unit out. Morstead's 43-yard punt to Webb was called by him for a fair catch at the 19.
Rice took the first down carry for a gain of three. Flacco rolled out and under pressure from Harper, threw an outlet pass to Dickson snuffed out by Vilma for a one-yard loss. On third and eight, Flacco threw a long pass to Ravens WR Derrick Mason that was complete for a 42-yard gain. Flacco completed a pass to WR Anquan Boldin that only garnered two yards. On second and eight, Rice was stopped for a two-yard loss by DE Alex Brown. On third and ten, Baltimore G Ben Grubbs was called for offsides, moving the ball back to the New Orleans 42. Flacco found Rice for an eight-yard gain to the New Orleans 34, where former Saints K Billy Cundiff came out, but the Ravens took a delay of game penalty for the purpose of sending Koch and the punting unit out. Following a down of offsetting penalties, Koch was able to pin New Orleans back at their eight-yard line.
Brees warmed up, completing a 27-yard pass to Colston, followed by a couple of throws to Bush to put the Saints in Baltimore territory at the two-minute warning. The signal caller completed his third straight pass to Bush for a four-yard gain and then rolled out for a first down throw to WR Devery Henderson to the Ravens 16 for a 17-yard gain. Another throw went to Bush for five yards on a screen. With second and five, Shockey caught a ball at the one for a gain of 11. On first and goal from the one with 49 seconds left, Brees threw a screen to Thomas for no gain, but he rebounded with a play action throw to Graham to put the Saints back within seven.
The Ravens started the second half at the 21 with a run by Rice and he was stopped for a loss of one yard by DE Alex Brown. Rice gained six on his next carry. But the Ravens would not be able to convert and following LB Marvin Mitchell's first career sack, Koch was forced to boot a 43-yard punt that would give the Saints field position at their 48.
On first down Brees handed off to Thomas for a gain of one and then on a screen to Bush the Saints gained six yards to the Baltimore 45, setting up third down and three. On third down, Brees face heavy pressure and came close to finding Colston for a third down throw that was just short of his hands. Morstead and the punt unit came out and the second-year punter booted a kick that went out of bounds at the Ravens eight.
Flacco rolled out on first down and threw a first down pass intended for Boldin out of bounds. His second down pass for Rice was incomplete as Harper hit him as he tossed it. On third and ten, Rice carried for a gain of four, as Baltimore went into punt formation. Bush fielded the punt at the New Orleans 41 and returned it to the Ravens 49-yard line.
With the Saints starting in Ravens territory, Brees handed off to Bush who barreled forth for a two-yard gain to the 47. Brees moved the chains with a third down completion to Shockey for a gain of ten to the Baltimore 37. Brees found a wide open Colston on a slant route for an 18-yard gain to the 19. Brees was sacked by Ravens LB Jarret Johnson to be moved back seven yards, but the quarterback fell on it. On second down, he handed off to Bush who made up two of the yards. Facing third and 15 from the Baltimore 24, Brees was sacked again by Ravens Terrell Suggs and fumbled it, but it was picked up by C Jonathan Goodwin. K Garrett Hartley came out and drilled a 47-yard field goal attempt to put the Saints within four points.
The Ravens were supposed to start at their 26, but FB Le'Ron McClain was called for a false start penalty. On second down, an outlet pass was completed by Flacco to Rice where he broke several tackles for a 32-yard gain, advancing to the New Orleans 47. Rice carried on the first down and advanced four yards to the 43. On the next play, the Ravens went for a change to pace to McGahee and he gained 28 yards to advance to the Saints 15. McGahee took another carry where he advanced to the seven-yard line. On the next play, got a two-yard gain and the first down before he was stopped by his former University of Miami teammate Vilma. At first and goal from the five, Rice was stopped for no gain by DT Remi Ayodele and Brown. On second down, a Flacco pass for McClain went through his fingers creating a third and goal situation where Flacco was dropped by DL Jimmy Wilkerson for a ten-yard loss, sending Cundiff on to the field where he drilled a 33-yard field goal to put the Ravens back up by a touchdown.
Following a Cundiff touchback, Brees completed a nine-yard throw to Colston. Thomas was then stopped for no gain, but on third down Jones went around the corner for a two-yard gain and the first down. On the ensuing play, Suggs was called for an offsides penalty, moving the Saints up to the 36 and first down and five on the final action of the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Saints moved the chains with a six-yard throw to Graham. Brees then eluded Suggs and completed a 12-yard throw to Meachem to move into Baltimore territory at the 47-yard line. On first down, under pressure from Suggs, Brees threw a pass intended for Shockey out of bounds. On second and ten, he completed a throw down the seam to Henderson for a 26-yard gain to the Ravens 20. On first down the Saints moved into the red zone and into first and goal on a 11-yard throw to Colston. On first down, a play action fake run by Thomas set up a throw to Colston in the end zone that was incomplete. With second and goal, Brees handed off to Bush who lost six yards on a draw play when he was tackled by Johnson for the loss. Facing the third and goal play, a throw by Brees to the back of the end zone, went over Colston's hands but was caught by Moore for the touchdown to tie the score.
After Morstead drilled a touchback, Rice took a carry for a 50-ayrd gain. Harper was assessed a 15-yard penalty for hitting Rice out of bounds. On first and ten, Rice managed only a one-yard gain. On second and nine, a Flacco pass intended for Ravens WR T.J. Housmenzadeh was defended by CB Leigh Torrence. On third down, Flacco's pass intended for Houshmanzadeh was ruled incomplete as Houshmanzadeh had only one foot in bounds. The Ravens were forced to bring out Cundiff who made a 24-yard field goal attempt to put Baltimore in the lead again.
On the following drive with the Saints at their 17-yard line on fourth and eight, a Brees' pass was tipped and intercepted by DE Cory Redding with 1:47 left in the game.
The Ravens drove to the New Orleans nine-yard line where Cundiff booted a 27-yard field goal to increase Baltimore's lead to 30-24.
The Saints tried a number of laterals on their final kickoff return but there was no last second miracle as the Ravens held on to take the victory.