The New Orleans Saints (2-5) were defeated by the Denver Broncos (4-3), 34-14, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday night.
The Saints have not defeated the Broncos since 1994 with Denver winning the last four contests. The Saints now move to 1-5 on the road against the Broncos and Denver leads the series 8-2 overall.
The loss ended New Orleans’ streak of six consecutive Sunday night wins.
“I have to do a better job of preparing our team,” said Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt. “There are things that I need to do better. We need to improve physically and mentally. There is a lot of football left to be played.”
The Saints will return home and begin preparations for a contest against the Philadelphia Eagles on November 5 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday Night Football. The Broncos will face the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
QB Drew Brees completed 22 of 42 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Brees extended his NFL record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 50.
RB Darren Sproles was a threat in the passing game, catching seven passes for 56 yards and one touchdown reception. TE Jimmy Graham caught five passes for 63 yards with a touchdown.
S Roman Harper recorded nine tackles (eight solo) and added two pass defenses. LB Curtis Lofton also recorded nine tackles (seven solo) and recovered a fumble forced by rookie DT Akiem Hicks.
The Broncos were able to strike first in the two team’s first matchup since 2008.
QB Peyton Manning orchestrated an 11-play, 98 yard drive after being pinned down deep in Broncos’ territory by WR Courtney Roby following a 52-yard punt by P Thomas Morstead. Denver capped off the drive with a one-yard rush by RB Willis McGahee and K Matt Prater made the extra point to give the Broncos a 7-0 lead with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.
The Broncos advanced into New Orleans territory again later in the first quarter but turned the ball over to New Orleans. McGahee rushed to the left side on third down and was stopped by Hicks who forced a fumble that was recovered by Lofton at the New Orleans 45-yard line.
Brees completed three straight passes including a 16-yard strike to WR Marques Colston and a seven-yard completion to WR Lance Moore to move the ball down the field. Then, to start the second period, Brees found Sproles on a completion and Sproles took the ball 29 yards for a New Orleans score. The touchdown was Brees’ 300th in his career, tied with John Elway for sixth all-time in NFL record books. K Garrett Hartley made the extra point to tie the game, 7-7.
Later in the second quarter, the Saints lined up to try to move the chains on fourth-and-two from near midfield. Brees’ pass was intercepted by LB Wesley Woodyard and returned to the Denver 44-yard line.
Following the interception, Manning connected on a 34-yard strike to WR Demaryius Thomas before hitting WR Eric Decker with a 13-yard touchdown pass. With the extra point, Denver took a 14-7 lead with 6:43 remaining in the first half.
The Broncos were able to put together another long drive before the end of the first half. Manning completed passes of 19 and 23 yards to move the ball down the field before the two-minute warning. The Saints defense held on and forced a Broncos field goal attempt. Prater made the 33-yard field goal to give the Broncos a 17-7 halftime lead.
Denver received the ball to start the second half and scored on the opening possession despite starting at the Broncos seven-yard line. Manning completed four-of-four passes on the drive and RB Ronnie Hillman busted off a 38-yard run on the drive that moved the Broncos into Saints territory. Manning capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Thomas and Prater gave Denver a 24-7 third quarter lead.
Following a Saints three-and-out, WR Trindon Holliday returned a Morstead punt 22 yards to the Denver 49-yard line. Manning completed a 23-yard pass to TE Jacob Tamme before hitting Thomas for another 23-yard gain at the end of the third quarter. Manning came out to start the fourth quarter and connected with Decker on a two-yard touchdown pass. Prater added the extra point and gave the Broncos a 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Broncos were able to move the ball 46 yards on the ground later in the fourth quarter to set up a 33-yard field goal by Prater that increased the Denver lead to 34-7 with 5:27 remaining in the game.
Brees and the Saints offense put together one last drive as Brees picked up three first downs and converted on two fourth downs through the air on a 13-play, 80 yard drive that lasted 3:24. Brees capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Graham. The touchdown moved Brees ahead of Elway on the all-time passing touchdown list. Hartley added the extra point to bring the score to 34-14 with 2:03 remaining.
Denver recovered an onside kick attempt by the Saints and ran down the clock to end the game.
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