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Brees passes Saints past undisciplined Lions

Dec 5, 2011 - 7:54 AM New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns, leading New Orleans to a 31-17 victory over the undisciplined Detroit Lions.

Robert Meachem caught three passes for 119 yards and a score for the Saints (9-3), who have won four in a row.

They moved two games ahead of Atlanta in the NFC South. The Falcons fell to the Texans earlier Sunday.

The Lions (7-5), meanwhile, were playing without defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh due to his Thanksgiving Day stomp of Packers lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Detroit proved just as undisciplined without Suh, racking up a devastating 11 penalties for 107 yards.

Matthew Stafford threw for 408 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss. His team has dropped five of its last seven games after starting the season 5-0.

"We had a lot of stupid penalties," said Stafford. "Same old song and dance. I'm tired of talking about it. Before the play, after the whistle, we did some dumb things that really set us back."

The Lions have an NFL record three wins this season when trailing by at least 17 points. Behind 24-7 at the half, they again made a push, but were undone by costly mistakes and a potent Saints attack.

They moved to the New Orleans seven on the opening drive of the third quarter, but Titus Young punched an opposing player in the helmet in blatant view of a referee after a Maurice Morris run. The 15-yard penalty stalled the drive and Jason Hanson's 31-yard field goal was the result.

Following a Saints punt, Stafford led an 88-yard scoring march, hitting Morris for a nine-yard touchdown to make it a 24-17 game.

Early in the fourth, the Lions received the ball at their own 33 following a New Orleans punt. But Stefan Logan threw the ball at a Saints player after the whistle, resulting in a 15-yard penalty.

Detroit was pushed back to its own 18. Stafford dug the team out with a 47- yard completion to Nate Burleson, but the drive resulted in a missed 55-yard field goal by Hanson.

Brees capitalized with a six-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles on the Saints' next drive to put the game out of reach.

"They rallied around their quarterback and made some plays. In that third quarter the momentum shifted and I thought it was gonna be important for us to answer," said Saints coach Sean Payton.

To highlight the ugly affair, Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew shoved an official in the waning minutes, drawing another 15-yard penalty.

In addition to Suh, who received a two-game suspension for his actions, the Lions began the game without starting cornerback Chris Houston and safety Louis Delmas due to injury.

Still, they kept the potent Saints offense in check early, allowing only a John Kasey 39-yard field goal in the first quarter.

Detroit's defense took another hit when tackle Nick Fairley departed for the locker room with a foot injury at the start of the second. The unit began to struggle, allowing New Orleans to score a touchdown its final three possessions before the half.

Mark Ingram reeled off a 14-yard touchdown run to cap a 97-yard drive for a 10-0 advantage early in the second. After a Detroit punt, Meachem hauled in a pass over the middle and sprinted up the sideline, turning a defender around before crossing the goal line for a 67-yard score.

The Lions responded with an 80-yard march and Stafford hit Calvin Johnson for 14 yards to the New Orleans' two before Kevin Smith found paydirt, making it 17-7.

Brees, who has thrown a touchdown pass in 39 consecutive regular season games, completed 7-of-7 passes on the Saints' next drive. Lance Moore made a leaping, 20-yard touchdown reception between two defenders to cap the set with 22 seconds left in the half.

Stafford found Young for 49 yards on the ensuing play from scrimmage, but Hanson's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

Game Notes

The Saints and Lions have met 21 times in their respective histories. New Orleans holds a slim 11-9-1 advantage...Suh had his appeal of the two-game suspension for his Thanksgiving stomp denied and was unhurt in a one-car auto accident in his hometown of Portland, Oregon this weekend. According to police, Suh lost control of his car after he tried to go around a taxi, striking the curb, a light pole, a water fountain and a tree after the back end of his 1970 Chevrolet Coupe spun out. No citations were issued and police said they do not investigate non- injury, non-DUI related accidents.