Brees returns to lead Saints to rout over Cardinals

Brees returns to lead Saints to rout over Cardinals
Drew Brees returns to the field after missing five games. (Source: Mark LaGrange)

NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - The return of Drew Brees had Saints fans in a frenzy and they weren’t disappointed as he threw multiple touchdown passes to lead New Orleans to a win over Arizona.

The Saints (7-1) also flexed its defensive muscles in a 31-9 win over the Cardinals (3-4-1). New Orleans did not give up a touchdown in the game.

Brees was 34-of-43 for 373 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw one interception. Latavius Murray, who continues to see extended playing time because Alvin Kamara is injured, gained 102 yards and scored a touchdown on 21 carries. He also caught a pass for a score. Michael Thomas hauled in 11 balls for 112 yards and a touchdown.

The Saints defense kept Kyler Murray and the Arizona offense in check, allowing just 237 total yards. The Cardinals gained less than 50 yards on the ground.

Brees’ first pass in a game since the injury sailed on him a bit but he showed his old pinpoint accuracy, for the most part, after that. He even completed a pass after getting seriously harassed by Cardinals sack specialist, outside linebacker Chandler Jones. The drive stalled at the Arizona 29-yard line and Wil Lutz missed a 47-yard field goal just left of the upright. On Arizona’s second play from scrimmage, Murray hit tight end Charles Clay for a 47-yard gain to get the ball down to the New Orleans 14-yard line. The Saints defense stiffened up and kept the Cardinals out of the end zone. Zane Gonzalez made a 31-yard field goal to give Arizona the 3-0 lead with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

Brees again led the Saints down the field but they could not punch it in and had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from Lutz to tie it at 3-3 early in the second quarter. After the defense forced a three and out, the Saints finally found the end zone. Murray capped off a 7-play 71-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. He carried the ball five times for 27 yards on the drive to give New Orleans the 10-3 lead with 8:59 left in the first half. Arizona's Murray then responded to lead the Cardinals down the field. Again, the Saints defense bent but didn't break and Arizona had to settle for another Gonzalez field goal. This one was from 31 yards out to make it 10-6 with 5:18 remaining in the half.

The Saints thought they had added to their lead when Brees connected with tight end Dan Arnold for a touchdown at the end of the half but the play was nullified by a penalty against New Orleans and the half was over with the score remaining 10-6. After the Saints defense held again to start the second half, Brees made a costly error and was picked off by former LSU great, Patrick Peterson. Arizona went for it on fourth and one but got stuffed by the New Orleans defense to give the ball back to Brees and the offense at the Arizona 30. Five plays later Brees tossed a 15-yard touchdown to Murray to extend the lead to 17-6 with 5:25 left in the third. The Cardinals then kicked a 50-yard field goal to make it 17-9. At the end of the third quarter, former LSU center Will Clapp limped off the field. He went into the tent but returned to the field of play.

In the fourth quarter, Brees continued to carve up the Cardinals defense. He found Taysom Hill in the end zone from five yards out to make it 24-9. Later, Brees hooked up with his top pass catcher as Thomas reached pay dirt from nine yards out to add to the lead and put New Orleans up 31-9. After that touchdown toss, Brees took a sit and Teddy Bridgewater handled duties under center for the rest of the game.

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