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Sun., Dec. 11, 2016 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM PST
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Saints Edge Chargers in Heartbreaker
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Sunday night’s showdown in the Superdome was the shootout everyone expected it to be. Unfortunately, in a game of momentum swings, the Saints got hot down the stretch and pulled out a 31-24 victory over the Chargers. Both quarterbacks had standout games, as Philip Rivers completed 27 of 42 attempts for 354 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort while Drew Brees threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns.
The Chargers got on the board first, as Rivers orchestrated a seven-play, 91 yard drive culminating with a 15-yard touchdown strike to former Saint Robert Meachem. Malcom Floyd came up big on the series, catching two balls for 71 yards. New Orleans, however, came right back, as Brees set the all-time record with his 48th consecutive game with a touchdown pass when he hit Devery Henderson for a 40-yard score. Just like that, at the end of the first quarter, the score was tied 7-7.
Nick Novak put the Bolts back ahead with a 20-yard field goal five minutes into the second quarter after San Diego drove 63-yards down the field on eight plays. The Saints responded strong once again, taking a 14-10 lead when Brees hit Marques Colston for a 19-yard touchdown pass. After each team failed to score on their next drive, the Chargers ended the half on a high note, taking the ball 86 yards on four plays over 1:12 as Rivers hit Meachem again for a 44-yard touchdown. Heading into halftime, San Diego led 17-14.
The third quarter was another see-saw affair. Quentin Jammer started it off in style with his first interception of the season on the third play of the half. The turnover led to Ryan Mathew’s first touchdown of the year as he bounced a run to the outside and soared over the defender at the pylon for a 24-14 lead. Still, the Saints showed no quit, rallying towards the end of the quarter as Brees and Colston connected for their second score of the day. Heading into the final 15 minutes, the Chargers held a slim three point lead.
That advantage wouldn’t last long as Brees hit Colston yet again for his third touchdown of the game; a go-ahead score with 8:50 remaining to put the home team up for good. Garrett Hartley’s field goal with 2:56 left in the match gave the Saints a seven point lead, but also left plenty of time on the clock for Rivers to march the offense down the field. Unfortunately, the Chargers attempts for a game-tying touchdown were thwarted by a series of questionable penalties, most notably a pass interference call against Antonio Gates that appeared to give the Bolts the ball at the New Orleans 24-yard line with 1:53 remaining. Eventually, Rivers would be stripped by Martez Wilson in the final seconds of the game as the Chargers fell to 3-2 on the season.
With 3:00 remaining in the third quarter, the Chargers appeared to build a 31-14 lead on a Demorrio Williams pick six off an errant Drew Brees pass. However, the touchdown was called back as Melvin Ingram was flagged for roughing the passer as he went in hard and appeared to hit Brees in the head. Given new life, the Saints drove the length of the field over the next six plays for a touchdown and a 14-point swing. In fact, the score was the first of 17 unanswered points for New Orleans.
It Was Over When…
With less than 20 seconds to go and the ball on the Saints’ 33-yard line, the Chargers had no choice but to go deep. On 3rd-and-10, Martez Wilson came roaring down Philip Rivers’ blind side and stripped the quarterback. Wilson fell on top of the loose ball to give the Saints possession and their first victory of the season.
Play of the Game
Down by four points with less than a minute to go in the half, Philip Rivers dropped back and looked deep for his vertical threat, Robert Meachem. The former Saint streaked across the middle, and number 17 hit him in the numbers around the 10-yard line. Meachem then used a stiff arm to overpower the closest defender to wrestle into the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.
Stat of the Game
Ryan Mathews enjoyed his finest performance of the season, rushing 12 times for 80 yards and one touchdown in addition to catching a team-high six balls for 59 yards.
“We had a couple penalties and errors that cost us a great deal late in the game. And (the Saints) are outstanding offensively and made plays when they had to.” – Head Coach Norv Turner
“These are games you have to win in the post-season and to get into the post-season. And as deflated as I am and as hard as it is, I am (encouraged) because we fought and fought. We know these are the games we have to get done and win eventually. At some point you have to win them and we know that. But we can grow so much from this. We have to let the dust settle for a day or two, and then get ready for Monday night’s division game. We have a chance to go 3-0 in the division.”-Quarterback Philip Rivers
“I think the positive we take away from this game is the fact that we fought for all four quarters. We continued to fight through the end of the game, and you just have to tip your hat. They made the plays and we continued to fight, but we just didn’t have it today.” – Tight End Antonio Gates
Odds and Ends
Robert Meachem’s two touchdowns were the first of his Chargers career.
Antoine Cason led the team with eight tackles.
Eric Weddle, Corey Liuget and Shaun Phillips all recorded sacks.
Jarret Johnson made his 100th career start.
Despite playing with a cast on his broken hand, Quentin Jammer recorded his first interception of the season early in the third quarter.
The inactives today included Nate Kaeding, Brandon Taylor, Shareece Wright, Curtis Brinkley, Jonas Mouton, Antonio Garay and Ladarius Green.
Tonight’s attendance was 73,109. Read