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Brees, Saints cruise past Cardinals

Sep 22, 2013 - 11:21 PM New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees tossed three touchdown passes and ran for a score as the New Orleans Saints scored 31 unanswered points and cruised past the Arizona Cardinals, 31-7.

Brees went 29-of-46 passing for 342 yards and an interception. The Saints' signal caller has now surpassed 300 yards passing for the eighth straight regular season game, one shy of his own NFL record of nine consecutive games.

Jimmy Graham caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and Robert Meachem hauled in his first touchdown of the season.

On the other side, Carson Palmer struggled to move the ball consistently for Arizona. Palmer completed just 18-of-35 throws for 187 yards and two interceptions. Alfonso Smith scored the lone Cardinals' touchdown, a three- yard rush in the first quarter.

"They can rush the passer," said Palmer. "There's two very good pass rushers that people don't know a whole lot about. Cameron Jordan is really good and he showed that today. Junior Galette is really good. They're physical guys, they stop the run and they rush the passer."

The Cardinals stay on the road next week when they travel to Tampa Bay to face the winless Buccaneers, while New Orleans gets an extra day of rest before facing Miami at home on Monday Night Football.

Arizona drove right down the field on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Smith bounced outside for a 21-yard scamper, the longest rush of the season for the Cards, before taking it in from three yards out.

Later in the first, Brees saw a streaking Meachem down the right sideline and hit him in rhythm for a 27-yard score.

Both offenses stalled until late in the first half when the Saints struck again with a Graham 16-yard touchdown. Brees lofted a ball to the left side of the end zone and Graham easily reeled in the catch after using his big body to create space against Yeremiah Bell, who had single coverage.

Garrett Hartley's 31-yard kick went through the uprights with 4:08 left in the third period, putting New Orleans ahead 17-7.

Early in the fourth, Brees found Graham again on the goal line for an apparent touchdown, but the officials ruled that the ball hit the ground before Graham had possession. On the ensuing play, Brees scrambled up the gut for his first rushing touchdown of 2013.

"That play happened exactly like that in practice this week," said Brees. "It was obviously a critical point in the game because it gave us a three possession distance from the opponent."

Brees and Graham connected for a second time on the home team's next drive to account for the final margin.

"We talked all week about finishing, finishing, finishing," said Brees. "We hadn't been great in the fourth quarter and so today we were successful in that regard. We outscored out opponent 14-0 in the fourth quarter, which was huge."

Following its first quarter touchdown, eight straight Arizona possessions ended with a Dave Zastudil punt before Palmer was intercepted on the final two drives.

Game Notes

Tyrann Mathieu recorded his first career interception early in the third quarter ... Arizona has completed just 6-of-26 third downs going back to last week ... The Saints outgained the Cardinals, 423-247.