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Saints deal Eagles fourth straight loss
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes, extending his NFL record streak to 51 games, and Patrick Robinson returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown to lead the New Orleans Saints to a 28-13 lead over Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles after the third quarter Monday night.
In a matchup of struggling teams, the Eagles drove for first downs inside the New Orleans 10 three times, but only came away with two field goals. In fact, they were outscored in those situations, because Robinson took a tipped pass for a New Orleans touchdown, tying the record for the longest interception return in franchise history.
Brees threw a 1-yard scoring pass to Marques Colston late in the first half, then tacked on a 6-yard touchdown to Jimmy Graham in the third quarter after the Eagles had cut a 21-3 halftime deficit to 21-13.
Chris Ivory, playing for the first time this year, scored for the Saints on a 22-yard run.
The Saints were on the verge of blowing it open when they took the second-half kickoff and drove deep into Philadelphia territory. But the Eagles defense came up with a big turnover, Brandon Graham stripping the ball from Brees and falling on it. Two plays later, Vick found DeSean Jackson wide open for a 77-yard touchdown.
Rookie Travaris Cadet, filling in on returns for the injured Darren Sproles, fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Philadelphia recovered. Vick broke off a run to the 8, but a sack stifled the drive. The Eagles settled for Alex Henery’s second field goal from 37 yards.
Philadelphia moved the ball effectively in the early going and looked to strike first after Bryce Brown broke off a 40-yard run to the New Orleans 5. After losing 1 yard on a run, the Eagles went to the air looking for the touchdown.
Instead, it was the Saints who scored. Vick’s pass went off the hands of tight end Brent Celek — right into the arms of Robinson, the right cornerback. He took off down the sideline in front of the shell-shocked Philadelphia bench, matching Darren Sharper’s franchise record.
Vick was the only guy who had a chance at Robinson, but he instead took a low shot at Saints safety Roman Harper, who was setting up to deliver a block for his teammate. That sparked a brief scuffle while Robinson celebrated. Vick was flagged for a personal foul, though it didn’t really matter.
After Henery’s 22-yard field goal made it 7-3, the Saints dominated the rest of the first half.
Last in the league in rushing, New Orleans fans had been clamoring for the team to give some carries to Ivory, the team’s leading rusher just two seasons ago. He had only dressed for two games this season, and had yet to get on the field.
Finally, New Orleans gave Ivory a shot — and he sure took advantage On his first carry of the season, he rumbled for a 9-yard gain. Then, breaking several tackles, he ripped off a 22-yard touchdown run that put the Saints ahead 14-3.
After another promising Philadelphia possession was ruined by a silly play — an unnecessary roughness penalty on Riley Cooper for a blind-side hit — the Saints took it down the field for another score.
Brees hooked up with Graham on two completions for 30 yards, Pierre Thomas ran for 19 yards, and Brees found Marques Colston in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown that stretched the lead to 21-3.
Philadelphia has been outscored 45-10 in the first half over the past two games. Last week, the Eagles trailed Atlanta 24-7 at the break.
Both teams came into the game desperate for a win, after starting the season with high expectations.
Philadelphia had lost three straight, sparking constant speculation about whether Vick would lose his starting job and turning up the heat even more on longtime coach Andy Reid.
The Saints were coming off a dismal 34-14 loss at Denver, dropping their record to 2-5. As if they needed any further distraction, there was a report that a contract extension for suspended coach Sean Payton had been voided by the league, prompting speculation that he might not return to New Orleans in 2013.
The Eagles had 317 yards after three quarters, on pace to become the eighth straight team to put up 400 yards on the Saints. But Philadelphia simply had too many breakdowns to take advantage.
Perhaps the biggest blunder other than Robinson’s pick was a brilliant trick play on a kickoff return. Cooper laid down in the end zone, then popped up to take a cross-field lateral from Brandon Boykin, streaking down the sideline for an apparent touchdown. Only one problem — Boykin’s lateral was actually a forward pass, ruining the play with a penalty.
On Philadelphia’s first scoring drive, LeSean McCoy got loose for runs of 13, 25 and 34 yards, the last of them on a fourth-and-1 play at the New Orleans 38.
But the Eagles couldn’t finish the job. Brown was stuffed at the line, Vick completed a pass to McCoy that also was stopped for no gain, and Vick’s pass over the middle went off the hands of Jackson, who appeared caught off guard by the throw. He was free in the back of the end zone but made only a halfhearted effort, the ball bouncing off his left hand.
Vick was 13 of 24 for 177 yards and had been sacked four times. McCoy already had 103 yards on 14 carries, while Brown had carried four times for 49 yards.
Brees was 19 of 25 for 237 yards, bouncing back from a tough game at Denver. Ivory had 32 yards rushing on six carries, while Thomas totaled 44 yards on six carries, and Mark Ingram was also impressive with six carries for 42 yards. The Saints already had eclipsed their league-low rushing average with 163 yards on just 19 carries — an average of 8.6 yards.
Garrett Hartley missed a 52-yard field goal attempt for the Saints.