Maybe it will be a tradition that the team that wins the league’s exhibition game in London goes on to win the Super Bowl. Last year, the New York Giants beat Miami in London and went on to win it all. Saints fans can only hope.
It was wet at Wembley Stadium but the kind of game that you would expect from two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The two key factors that turned the tide towards New Orleans were 74 fewer yards in penalties and no turnovers for the Saints despite fumbling twice and getting an interception reversed on a challenge with about six minutes left in the game.
QB Drew Brees did well playing for the first time against his old team since joining New Orleans in 2006. Brees had his sixth 300 yard plus game of the season, finishing the game with 339 yards and three touchdowns. Brees again showed no favorites by spreading the scores around to three different receivers. The first was a 12-yard pass to Devery Henderson about four minutes into the second quarter on a 10 play, 89-yard drive.
Rookie kicker Taylor Mehlhaff missed the extra point, his only miss of the day, after a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter and four additional extra points. The second was a 30-yard pass to Lance Moore near the end of the first half on a quick two-minute drive. The third touchdown was a 1-yard pass early in the third quarter to TE Mark Campbell. Brees has thrown for over 200 yards in 12 consecutive games. No other quarterback currently has a longer streak.
The Saints were also able to score on the ground with two rushing touchdowns. Both RB Deuce McAllister and FB Mike Karney had their second touchdowns of the season with one-yard runs. McAllister scored his midway through the second quarter and Karney had his as the fourth quarter started. McAllister’s touchdown was his 51st and put him second all time for the Saints in touchdowns behind Dalton Hilliard with 53.
Lance Moore led all receivers for the Saints with 90 yards. TE Billy Miller had 82 yards. Marques Colston, who did not catch a pass last week against Carolina, had 2 catches for 56 yards. Jeremy Shockey had one catch for 6 yards and no fumbles. McAllister got 45 of his 85 total yards on the first drive of the game.
LaDainian Tomlinson became the first player to rush for over 100 yards against the Saints this season, finishing the day with 105 rushing and 65 yards receiving. Tomlinson had two big rushing plays: one for 26 yards on his first touch and one rush for 40 yards on third and one from the Saints 44 yard line. The second big rushing play set up Tomlinson’s lone score: a 12-yard touchdown catch.
Despite the New Orleans victory, Chargers QB Philip Rivers put up almost identical stats to Brees. Rivers had two more yards passing and three touchdowns but a lower completion percentage and an interception on a deep pass with about a minute left in the game. Saints LB Jonathan Vilma came up with the interception. TE Antonio Gates had 96 yards receiving and a touchdown while Vincent Jackson had 60 yards and a touchdown.
Reggie Bush, who injured his knee last week in Carolina, did not play.
One interesting note: the Saints went for it on fourth down three times and made it twice, one of which was McAllister’s one-yard touchdown run.
The Saints are now 4 and 4 and will enter their bye week. Their next game is against the Atlanta Falcons who lost this week to the Philadelphia Eagles.