<span style="">New Orleans, La. --- For weeks Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has preached the virtues of taking care of the football, limiting penalties and playing a complementary style of football.
Today he and the rest of the Saints demonstrated what happens when all of the facets come together, as the Saints thumped the visiting Oakland Raiders, 34-3. It was the team's most-lopsided victory since December 14, 2003 when the Saints leveled the New York Giants, 45-7.
"I was pleased today with how we played smart and tough football," said Payton, as the Saints got back to .500 (3-3). "We took care of the ball, defended well and took advantage of our opportunities. It was a team win all the way around."
New Orleans rolled to 441 yards of total offense while holding the Raiders to 226 yards. The Saints also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass and kept the dangerous Raiders rushing attack, which was averaging over 150 yards a game rushing to only 85 yards on the ground, while the Saints churned out 122 yards on the ground. The Saints also limited their penalties to only four, after committing an unsightly 11 on Monday Night.
The Saints scored 34 unanswered points courtesy of a pair of Reggie Bush touchdowns and receiving scores by RB Aaron Stecker and TE Mark Campbell. Rookie K Taylor Mehlhaff also added a pair of field goals and four extra points while the Saints' defense surrendered only three points and caused two turnovers en route to the win.
Saints QB Drew Brees was magical and efficient throughout the game, completing 26-of-30 passes for 320 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions for a near-perfect passer rating of 144.4. Meanwhile, Oakland's JaMarcus Russell's homecoming to Louisiana was a rough one, as he was held to 13 completions on 35 attempts for 159 yards for 159 yards and an interception.
"Drew was something else," said Payton. "He was making all the right reads and giving a lot of different guys a chance to contribute."
"I tried to complete them all," Brees said matter of factly after the game. "We were good on third downs today, nearly 65%. I think if you look at the stat sheet, no one guy really jumps out. That was by design. We just wanted to get a lot of guys involved and keep them, second guessing."
The Saints' rushing game churned out 122 yards on 33 carries against the tough Oakland rushing defense, highlighted by Deuce McAllister's 13 carries for 65 yards. Bush added 67 yards of offense and two scores.
"I thought we were more patient with the running game, and as a result, it helped our balance," said Payton.
After a three and out on the Saints' opening drive, Oakland capitalized on a 35-yard punt return by Johnnie Lee Higgins. Oakland's initial drive started at the Saints' 39 yard-line and the Raiders drove 33 yards in nine plays. The biggest play on the drive was a 13-yard completion on the second play of the drive from QB JaMarcus Russell to WR Ronald Curry. New Orleans nearly thwarted the drive on a third-and-goal from the six-yard line when CB Randall Gay defended a pass for Higgins in the end zone and the deflection fell into the chest of Roman Harper, who was unable to hang onto the deflected pass.
Brees started the Saints' second drive with a 21-yard completion to RB Reggie Bush. It was 200th career reception for Bush, in 34 career games, which ties him for the quickest player in NFL history to reach 200 receptions (Anquan Boldin-ARZ). After a short run by Deuce McAllister that picked up one yard, Brees hooked up with TE Mark Campbell for a gain of 29 yards and then TE Billy Miller for a gain of 13 yards. A holding call on Jammal Brown pushed the Saints back 10 yards on first down, though, as did a similar call on second down. On a third-and-22 from the 28 Brees connected on a 15-yard completion to Miller across the middle of the field, which brought up a 31-yard field goal attempt by K Taylor Mehlhaff. The rookie from Wisconsin pulled his first career attempt wide of the right and the Raiders started their second possession at their own 21 yard-line.
Russell converted a third-and-five with a seven yard pass to WR Javon Walker on the Raiders' first third down attempt of their second drive. On the next third down Russell hit Curry for an eight-yard completion and a first down. Gay nearly intercepted Russell on the next play but couldn't handle the pass from his former LSU teammate. On a third-and-nine from midfield the Raiders were flagged for an illegal procedure infraction on TE Zach Miller. On a third and 14 Russell tried a deep pass for WR Ashley Lelie but tight coverage from Jason David resulted in an incompletion and a punt by Shanle Lechler, which was fair caught by Reggie Bush at the Saints' 14.
Deuce McAllister picked up nine yards on a first down carry and Bush converted it with a two-yard run on third down into the heart of the Raiders' defensive line. After a short loss on a completion to FB Mike Karney, Brees hit Lance Moore on a 12-yard crossing route over the middle that Moore converted into a first down. Brees and Moore then picked up five more yards on the ensuing play and Brees hit McAllister on a four-yard check-down. Karney bulled his way for one yard and the first down. Newcomer Sean Ryan caught his first pass as a member of the Saints, the 15th different player to register a reception this season, for a five yard gain and then McAllister found seven yards off right guard for another first down. McAllister went right behind RG Jarhi Evans for nine more yards on the next play before being stopped for a loss of one yard on second down. Brees hooked up with Karney out of the backfield for a gain of four yards and a first down on the 30. Bush added a yard on an inside run and then Brees froze the Oakland secondary with a play-action fake and a quick pass to Moore over the middle for a gain of 19 yards and a first down, the Saints' sixth first down on the drive. Bush then picked up three yards on a first-and-goal attempt from the 10. Brees started the game 14-of-14, the most consecutive completions he has experienced as a professional. Oakland was guilty of a neutral zone infraction that gave the Saints a third-and-goal from the three-yard line and Bush took a pitch out and raced untouched into the end zone behind a key block from Karney. The drive covered 86 yards in 18 plays in a whooping 10:59 in time of possession.
Mehlhaff booted his extra point through the uprights, but his ensuing kickoff bounced out of the bounds and the Raiders took over at their own 40 with less than four minutes left in the first half. On a third-and-seven from the 39 Russell was unable to find a receiver downfield due to tight coverage and threw the pass away. Janikowski attempted a 57-yard field goal but it missed wide to the left and the Saints took over possession at their own 47 with 1:48 left on the clock and all three timeouts remaining.
The first play of the drive came on a 17-yard completion from Brees to Henderson, and then Brees completed his 16th pass in a row on an 18-yard completion to Moore in between defenders. Bush then picked up two yards and scurried out of bounds on first down, which stopped the clock. Brees suffered his first incompletion with 1:00 remaining in the second quarter when he tried to connect with Bush coming out of the backfield. On third down Brees was flagged for intentional grounding and the Saints were pushed back 10 yards, but Mehlhaff atoned for his earlier miss by knocking a 47-yard field goal through uprights, giving the Saints a 10-3 lead with :50 remaining in the first half.
Oakland started at their own 25 and picked a quick 35 yards on a pass to Higgins. Oakland was then flagged for offensive pass interference when Lelie dragged down Gay deep in the Saints' end of the field after Gay appeared to position himself to make an interception. Harper very nearly picked off Russell on the next play and then Jonathan Vilma hammered Fargas and forced an incompletion on second down. Russell hit TE Zach Miller for a nine-yard gain on third down and Janikowski trotted out to attempt a 59-yard attempt that also missed wide to the left.
"I think we have take a great deal of pride in trying to get the run stopped," said Vilma. "It's a collective effort and there is a lot of pride in getting it stop. It takes all 11 guys and we are starting to show that we can do it."
"We are getting our hands on some footballs and are developing and we are getting close to making plays out there," Vilma said. "The defensive line was awesome. They are doing some job up there."
New Orleans took over at their own 49 with :06 left in the second quarter. Brees hit Miller over the middle for a gain of 25 yards as time expired. Miller appeared to be touched down with :01 left on the clock and the Saints tried desperately to call time out, but the officials ruled the clock had expired.
The Saints' second half began with a high hanging kick from Mehlhaff to landed at the goal-line and was returned 17 yards by Higgins before a big hit from CB Usama Young. Fargas picked up six yards and then one yard on inside handoff. Jason David knocked down a third down pass intended for Lelie and Lechler hit a wobbly 39 punt that Bush returned eight yards to the Saints' 45.
McAllister worked his way behind left guard Carl Nicks for four yards one first down and then Bush also ran left for four more yards. On third-and-two Bush took a pitch and jitterbugged for five yards before being thrown out of bounds by CB DeAngelo Hall. Brees then hit Moore for nine yards to the Raiders' 33 and on second-and-one, McAllister thundered behind C Jonathan Goodwin for an eight-yard gain. Brees then dumped a pass off in the face of a corner blitz to Ryan for a two-yard gain. On second down Brees rolled out and hit Moore for a seven-yard gain. On a third-and-one McAllister found a cutback lane and picked up five yards and a first down to the 11. Brees then hit McAllister for a gain of three yards to the eight. On a third-and-seven from the eight Brees hit Aaron Stecker on a screenplay that popped for an eight-yard touchdown and gave the Saints a 17-3 lead after Mehlhaff's extra point.
Oakland began at their own 28 and misfired on deep middle pass to Lelie. On second down McFadden was stopped by Vilma after a five-yard pickup. CB Jason David picked off his first pass of the season when Russell tried to hit Lelie in the flat. David bounced up and returned the ball 18 yards to the Raiders' 17. Two plays later Bush caught a pass from Brees over the middle and scampered 15 yards for his second touchdown of the day and gave the Saints a 24-3 lead after the extra point.
"It was just a check down route," said Bush. "I was in the right play at the right time and was able to get in to the end zone. Drew just checked it down and I was able to make a guy miss."
Oakland continued to try to mix the run and the pass despite trailing by 21 points and Vilma, Shanle and Harper turned in some highlight defensive hit. On a third-and-10 from the Oakland 46 with 2:46 left in the third quarter Russell called a timeout after the Saints' defense showed a new look. Oakland was guilty of a holding call after Will Smith beat LT Kwame Harris but the Saints declined the penalty and forced the Raiders to punt. Lechler hammered a 54-yard punt into the end zone for a touchback and the Saints took over at their own 20.
McAllister churned his way through the middle for a hard-earned four yards on first down and then picked up four more on second down. Brees then play-actioned faked and found a streaking Devery Henderson for a 51-yard completion to the Raiders' 21, which was Henderson and Brees' fourth completion over 50-yards through the first six games of the season.
The Saints couldn't get any further than the Raiders' 15, which gave Mehlhaff a chance to boot home a 33-yard field goal and extend the Saints' lead to 27-3.
Russell began the next drive by hitting Miller for a gain of 23 yards to their own 38 and came back to try the middle of the field by tight coverage from Harper forced the incompletion. After a short run by Fargas that was snuffed by Shanle, DE Bobby McCray stripped Russell of the ball on a sack that was recovered by DT Kendrick Clancy at the Raiders' 32.
McAllister picked up a yard and on second down Brees zipped a pass to Moore down the seam for a gain of 24 yards. Oakland was flagged for too many men on the field and the Saints had the ball on the two. Brees play faked a handoff to Bush and then lofted a perfect pass to Campbell in the back of the end zone that put the Saints ahead 34-3 after the extra point. The touchdown marked the first touchdown as a Saint for Campbell.
Vilma led all Saints in tackles with 11 stops, while Shanle added six and two passes defensed. Randall Gay had a team high three passes defensed.
Inactive Saints: QB Joey Harrington (3rd QB), WR Marques Colston, CB Aaron Glenn, S Kevin Kaesviharn, WR David Patten, TE Jeremy Shockey, DT Antwan Lake and DT Sedrick Ellis.
Cool Brees: Drew Brees completed 16 consecutive passes in the first half, which this marked the second-most consecutive completions in franchise history. Brees holds the franchise record (17, December 16, 2007 vs. Arizona, December 23, 2007 vs. Philadelphia). Archie Manning previously held the record with 15 straight completions in 1979.
The last time the Saints defeated a team by 30 points or more occurred on December 14, 2003 when the Saints defeated the New York Giants, 45-7, at the Superdome.
WR Lance Moore, whose younger brother Nick Moore had 20 receptions in Toledo's upset win over Michigan on Saturday, led all Saints receivers with 7 receptions for 97 yards.