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Brees throws for three TDs to lift Saints past Eagles

Oct 15, 2006 - 8:38 PM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Drew Brees authored up a perfect drive to help the New Orleans Saints continue their surprising start.

After Brees put his team in position, John Carney kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints to a 27-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a matchup of division leaders.

Brees threw for two of his three touchdowns in the first half, when the Saints built a 17-3 lead. But it was his play in the fourth quarter that was the difference.

The Eagles battled back and took a 24-17 lead on wide receiver Reggie Brown's 15-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

However, Brees found veteran Joe Horn for a 48-yard score just under over two minutes later to tie the game.

Brees did his best work on a 16-play, 72-yard drive that lasted the final 8:26. He completed all eight of his passes for 68 yards, setting up Carney for what amounted to a chip shot.

"That was pretty special," Brees said. "Sixteen plays, eight minutes and 26 seconds against a good team. That's tough."

On the final drive, the Saints were aided by a huge penalty. Brees was sacked on 3rd-and-10 at the Philadelphia 42, but the Eagles had too many men on the field. Brees then found tight end Mark Campbell for seven yards on third down.

"My first reaction (to the penalty) was, 'is it third down again? Or did they get a first down off the penalty,'" Eagles safety Brian Dawkins said. "It was still third down, so we still had another chance to get off the field."

"That's tough. We haven't been in that position in a long time," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "To see them take a knee for two minutes, it was heartbreaking. They did what they had to do to keep us from getting back on the field."

Brees completed 27-of-37 passes for 275 yards and two interceptions.

Horn had six catches for 110 yards and two scores for the Saints (5-1), who lead the NFC South under first-year coach Sean Payton. New Orleans went just 3-13 last season.

"I thought there were a lot of momentum swings in this game," Payton said. "We just kept banging in there. I thought in the fourth quarter when it was time for us to make it happen we kept our heads above water."

"We want to prove that we're a pretty good team," said Saints running back Deuce McAllister, who played through an injury to his right hamstring to rush for 64 yards on 12 attempts. "The team and probably as individuals, we want to prove that we belong as some of the top tier teams in the league."

The Saints also improved to 3-0 at the Superdome. They played their home games in San Antonio and on the campus of Louisiana State University last season following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"It means a lot to this football team," Saints defensive end Charles Grant said.

McNabb recovered from a slow start to completed 19-of-32 passes for 247 yards and two TDs for the Eagles (4-2), who sit atop the NFC East.

Brown had six receptions for 121 yards and TD and tight end L.J. Smith also had a scoring reception for Philadelphia.

In the first half, Brees threw touchdowns of 14 yards to Horn and seven yards to rookie Marques Colston. His connection to Colston with 15 seconds left in the half was set up after Dexter Wynn muffed a punt when he was run into by teammate Ryan Moats inside the Philadelphia 20.

But after looking completely out of sync in the first half, the Eagles, who entered with the NFL's top-ranked offense, got rolling early in the third quarter.

Less than two minutes into the second half, McNabb rifled a pass to Brown, who caught the ball at the New Orleans 40 and raced to the end zone for a 60-yard TD to pull the Eagles within 17-10.

McNabb capped a seven-play, 76-yard drive with a four-yard TD toss to tight end L.J. Smith with 63 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 17-17.

On the final play of third quarter, the Eagles received a big play from their defense. Defensive end Juqua Thomas deflected a pass that Walker intercepted and returned six yards to the New Orleans 15.

The change in momentum continued on the first play of the fourth quarter as Brown took a pitch from McNabb and darted around the left side for a TD, giving the Eagles a 24-17 lead. McNabb also threw a key block on the score.

New Orleans responded on its ensuing possession. Strong safety Michael Lewis bit on a fake and Horn came free over the middle for a 48-yard TD with 12:52 left to tie the game.

Brees was given plenty of time to throw thanks to an offensive line that did not allow a sack. Philadelphia came into the contest with a league-leading 23 sacks.

"The offensive line did a phenomenal job," Brees said. "Before the game coach Payton said no sacks. They took it as a big challenge and did an exceptional job."

Horn, who was held without a TD in his previous 16 games, ended that drought with a 14-yard scoring reception in the first quarter to give the Saints a 10-0 lead.

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