Cardinals
Saints
24 - 31 Final
  for this game

Brees, Stecker help Saints keep playoff hopes alive

Dec 16, 2007 - 11:37 PM NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints know it's not how you start that matters - but how you finish.

Brees threw a pair of touchdown passes and Aaron Stecker recorded his first career two-score game as the Saints kept their playoff hopes alive with a 31-24 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

There were high preseason expectations for the Saints (7-7), who reached the NFC title game last season. Those expectations were quickly tempered, though, as New Orleans started the season 0-4. It then won four straight before dropping three of four.

But the Saints have now won two straight and moved within a half-game of the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) for the NFC's second wild card spot.

"If we pull it out the next two weeks I think we will have earned our right to be in the big show," Brees said. "We will have been through what amounted to be four elimination games. That may even give us more of an edge that we had last year."

Brees took it upon himself to keep their playoff hopes alive. He was razor sharp, completing 26-of-30 passes for 315 yards without an interception.

Stecker, subbing for an injured Reggie Bush, continued his solid play with 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries. Last week he ran for 100 yards on 20 carries in a 34-14 win over Atlanta.

"I was motivated when they drafted a running back (Ohio State's Antonio Pittman)," Stecker said. "I felt they were trying to run me off. I went home and trained harder than I had trained in years. If they wanted to get rid of me, I was going to make it hard for them."

Meanwhile, Kurt Warner threw three touchdowns for Arizona (6-8), which has not made the playoffs since 1998 and was all but eliminated with the loss.

While Brees and Stecker carried the offense, the Saints' defense also made their share of plays. Not the least of which was stopping the Cardinals after wide receiver David Patten committed a costly turnover with 7:06 left in the game.

With the Saints leading, 31-24, Patten caught a pass from Brees and raced down the left sideline before being stripped from behind by cornerback Ralph Brown. Defensive end Calvin Pace returned the fumble 26 yards to the Arizona 43.

However, the New Orleans defense forced the Cardinals to go three-and-out.

Brees and the offense then took over and ran the clock out.

"I thought it was a great effort by the defense," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We came up with some big turnovers. We were able to hang in there and come up with big plays when we needed them."

The Saints' defense seemed to play with a sense of urgency, scoring 14 points off two Arizona turnovers while pressuring Warner consistently. On the first possession of the second half, Warner was sacked by linebacker Scott Fujita and fumbled on 3rd-and-11.

Fellow linebacker Scott Shanle recovered and returned it 26 yards to the Arizona 7-yard line, which set up a 6-yard TD run from Stecker to make it 28-14 with 12:02 to play in the third.

Warner had a brief argument with offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the sideline after the turnover.

However the former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player immediately made amends by leading a 10-play, 80 yard scoring drive which was capped by a 3-yard strike to tight end Ben Patrick, cutting it to 28-21 with 6:14 left in the third.

"Sometimes you disagree, sometimes you fight," Warner said. "I wish I could say I've never fought with my wife, but we have. I love my teammates and I love my coaches. It's a passion, a fire, a frustration all tied in with a bunch of guys trying to compete. We don't look at it as anything personal."

Arizona answered when Neil Rackers kicked 26-yarder with 9:11 left in the fourth, but it could not get in position for the tying score the rest of the game.

The Cardinals had a first down at the Saints' 13-yard line on their final scoring drive, but cornerback Mike McKenzie got past three blockers, including Warner in the lead, to tackle wide receiver Steve Breaston for a two-yard loss on a third-down reverse from the 6 yard-line.

"I did the only thing I could do," McKenzie said. "I found a way to get them down and hold them to three points."

"I wasn't athletic enough to block (McKenzie)," Warner said. "That was a really good athlete against a not-so-good athlete. I wish I could've done better."

Warner was 19-of-30 for 233 yards and one interception for Arizona, which has lost two straight and will be eliminated from playoff consideration if Minnesota wins Monday at home against Chicago.

The Cardinals are 2-6 on the road, including five losses by seven or fewer points.

"We've done a lot of great things this year," Warner said. "But to be a playoff team we've got to win some tough games on the road and that's what we haven't figured out."






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    Cardinals 24, Saints 31  FinalSep 9 1:27 PM
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    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 6:48 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ARIZONA 7 7 7 3 24
    NEW ORLEANS 7 14 10 0 31 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ARI - TD, TROY BIENEMANN 1 YD PASS FROM KURT
    WARNER (NEIL RACKERS KICK), 3:00.
    Drive: 4 plays, 8 yards in 2:11.
    Key plays: Blackstock 8-yard return
    of Stecker fumble to New Orleans
    34. ARIZO

    Dec 16 3:59 PM
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    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 3:55 PM


  • NFL
    FG ARI
    NEIL RACKERS 26 YD
    ARIZONA 24
    NEW ORLEANS 31 9:11 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 3:33 PM


  • NFL
    ARIZONA 21
    NEW ORLEANS 31 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR
    ARI BALL ON ARI 14 YD LINE
    3RD AND 18

    Dec 16 3:25 PM


  • NFL
    FG NOR
    MARTIN GRAMATICA 31 YD
    ARIZONA 21
    NEW ORLEANS 31 0:50 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 3:21 PM


  • NFL
    TD ARI
    BEN PATRICK 3 YD PASS FROM KURT WARNER
    (NEIL RACKERS KICK)
    ARIZONA 21
    NEW ORLEANS 28 6:14 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 3:09 PM


  • NFL
    TD NOR
    AARON STECKER 7 YD RUN
    (MARTIN GRAMATICA KICK)
    ARIZONA 14
    NEW ORLEANS 28 12:02 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 2:55 PM


  • NFL
    MISSED FG ARI
    NEIL RACKERS 54 YD ATTEMPT WIDE RIGHT
    ARIZONA 14
    NEW ORLEANS 21 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Dec 16 2:31 PM


  • NFL
    TD NOR
    DAVID PATTEN 32 YD PASS FROM DREW BREES
    (MARTIN GRAMATICA KICK)
    ARIZONA 14
    NEW ORLEANS 21 1:58 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 2:17 PM


  • NFL
    TD ARI
    LARRY FITZGERALD 18 YD PASS FROM KURT WARNER
    (NEIL RACKERS KICK)
    ARIZONA 14
    NEW ORLEANS 14 10:01 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 1:53 PM


  • NFL
    TD NOR
    AARON STECKER 1 YD RUN
    (MARTIN GRAMATICA KICK)
    ARIZONA 7
    NEW ORLEANS 14 13:47 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 1:44 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ARIZONA 7 7
    NEW ORLEANS 7 7 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ARI - TD, TROY BIENEMANN 1 YD PASS FROM KURT
    WARNER (NEIL RACKERS KICK), 3:00.
    Drive: 4 plays, 8 yards in 2:11.
    Key plays: Blackstock 8-yard return
    of Stecker fumble to New Orleans
    34

    Dec 16 1:39 PM


  • NFL
    TD NOR
    MARQUES COLSTON 19 YD PASS FROM DREW BREES
    (MARTIN GRAMATICA KICK)
    ARIZONA 7
    NEW ORLEANS 7 6:18 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 1:25 PM


  • NFL
    TD ARI
    TROY BIENEMANN 1 YD PASS FROM KURT WARNER
    (NEIL RACKERS KICK)
    ARIZONA 7
    NEW ORLEANS 0 12:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Cardinals vs. SaintsDec 16 1:11 PM
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