Final

Saints 34

(9-3, 5-1 away)

Bengals 30

(2-10, 1-5 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, December 5, 2010

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 3 10 7 1434
CIN 0 6 6 1830

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 313 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: C. Ivory (NO) - 15 CAR, 117 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: R. Meachem (NO) - 3 REC, 106 YDS, 1 TD

Last-minute TD helps Saints escape Bengals for 5th straight win

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Drew Brees isn't just a Super Bowl MVP. He's also a convincing actor with the game on the line.

Brees passed Archie Manning as the Saints' all-time leading passer Sunday, then rallied New Orleans to its fifth straight win, 34-30 over the Cincinnati Bengals, with a little impromptu at the line of scrimmage in the final minute.

Sold it pretty well, too.

Down by three, the Saints (9-3) drove to a fourth-and-2 at the Cincinnati 7-yard line with 34 seconds left. A field goal would have set up overtime.

New Orleans called timeout and decided to run a gambit aptly called "No-Brainer Freeze." The Saints line up as if they're going to snap it and try to draw the Bengals offside. If it doesn't work, they let the play clock run out, take the 5-yard penalty and send in the kicker.

"That's a very realistic situation for us," Brees said. "We're not going to snap it if we can get them to jump."

To the surprise of the 59,963 fans and both sidelines, that's exactly what happened.

Brees moved around in the backfield, trying to get the Bengals' nerves on edge. He settled under center and, with the play clock under 10 seconds, started calling signals as the crowd screamed.

"Drew Brees did a great job with the snap count and tried to create the illusion we were going for it, when really we're just going to let the time run out," coach Sean Payton said.

Lineman Pat Sims bought it, jumping across the line for a penalty that gave the shocked Saints a first down. Brees threw the winning 3-yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston on the next play, taking advantage of Sims' stunning mistake.

"What is that guy doing?" Saints defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis said. "You have to be smarter than that."

For Cincinnati, it was another unbelievable ending in a season quickly becoming one of its worst. The defending AFC North champions have lost nine in a row for only the third time in franchise history.

The Bengals failed to sell out their second straight home game on a snowy, 30-degree afternoon. The bundled crowd booed until the fourth quarter, when Cedric Benson's two touchdown runs and newcomer Clint Stitser's 47-yard field goal gave Cincinnati its first lead, 30-27, with 4:25 left.

"I thought we had it," said Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who had five catches for 96 yards, all during the second-half comeback.

So did the rest of the Bengals.

"You start thinking about the winning feeling and you start feeling like you're close to a win," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "Then when it gets taken away, it's just frustrating."

New Orleans has won six of seven with a high-powered offense finally finding its stride. The Saints have scored at least 30 points in each of the last four games, reminiscent of their Lombardi Trophy season last year. The resurgence has been led by Brees, who's back in form after a ragged start.

Manning threw for 21,734 yards in 11 seasons. Brees has topped it in five years with the Saints, leading them to their first title. On Sunday, he put together his 14th regular-season comeback.

Brees' 42-yard pass to Robert Meachem moved the Saints into field-goal range and set the stage for the last-minute, will-they-or-won't-they drama on fourth down that made Sims flinch.

Brees finished 24 of 29 for 313 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a big-play offense. The Saints had five plays that went for at least 42 yards. Brees also had a 52-yard touchdown pass to Meachem. Chris Ivory carried 15 times for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a season-high 55-yard score.

Game notes


Saints RB Reggie Bush played his second game since returning from a broken right leg that sidelined him for eight games. He carried five times for 26 yards and caught three passes for no gain. ... RB Pierre Thomas missed his ninth straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... The Saints secured their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1991-92. ... New Orleans went 7-1 on the road last season. It's 5-1 on the road this year. ... The Bengals lost 10 straight games in 1993 and nine straight in 1998. The club record is 11 straight, including the last game of 1992 and the first 10 in '93. ... Jermaine Gresham set a Bengals record for catches by a rookie tight end with 47.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
CIN
1st Downs1921
Passing 1st downs
1011
Rushing 1st downs
87
1st downs from Penalties
13
3rd down efficiency
1-85-14
4th down efficiency
0-02-3
Total Plays5362
Total Yards436311
Yards per play8.25.0
Total Drives1011
Passing290215
Comp - Att
24-2923-33
Yards per pass
10.06.5
Interceptions thrown
10
Sacks - Yards Lost
2-233-34
Rushing14696
Rushing Attempts
2226
Yards per rush
6.63.7
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-33-6
Penalties11-1007-43
Turnovers10
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
10
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession27:2732:33

Passing Leaders

NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees24/2931310.8212-23
CINC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Palmer23/332497.5103-34

Rushing Leaders

NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Ivory151177.8255
Bush5265.2010
CINCARYDSAVGTDLG
Benson19492.627
Scott6437.2018

Receiving Leaders

NORECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Meachem310635.31523
Graham37224.00523
CINRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Ochocinco59619.203310
Owens6477.81209

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERNOCIN
noFG08:44Garrett Hartley 48 Yd 30
SECOND QUARTERNOCIN
cinFG13:03Clint Stitser 29 Yd 33
noTD12:02Chris Ivory 55 Yd Run (Garrett Hartley Kick) 103
cinFG09:41Clint Stitser 23 Yd 106
noFG00:13Garrett Hartley 24 Yd 136
THIRD QUARTERNOCIN
noTD09:06Chris Ivory 1 Yd Run (Garrett Hartley Kick) 206
cinTD03:54Terrell Owens 5 Yd Pass From Carson Palmer (Pat Failed) 2012
FOURTH QUARTERNOCIN
cinTD13:38Cedric Benson 1 Yd Run (Clint Stitser Kick) 2019
noTD12:13Robert Meachem 52 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 2719
cinTD08:08Cedric Benson 4 Yd Run (Carson Palmer Pass To Jermaine Gresham For Two-Point Conversion) 2727
cinFG04:25Clint Stitser 47 Yd 2730
noTD00:31Marques Colston 3 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 3430