INDIANAPOLIS --Drew Brees had all of the right stuff to take on the Indianapolis Colts' defense.
Brees completed 9-of-15 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns as the New Orleans Saints jumped to a quick lead Saturday night and held on for a 23-17 preseason victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The first-unit Indy defenders, stout through the first two preseason games, struggled for much of the first half of this one. The Colts yielded 18 first downs, 124 rushing yards and 288 total yards in the half.
"We just have to do the fundamentals," said Colts Coach Chuck Pagano, whose team fell to 0-3 in the preseason. "We've got a chance to be a really good defense. We've got to do the little things. (The Saints) did the little things better."
Missed tackles hurt the Colts in the first half.
"I know we can tackle," Pagano said. "We tackled better in the second half. It's fundamental football."
Much like the defense, Andrew Luck and the Colts' offense didn't enjoy their best night. Luck finished with 10-of-18 passing for 103 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Asked to give a report card on the performance during a halftime interview, Luck was to the point.
"Not a good grade," he said. "We never got in a rhythm, missing throws that I would like to make, and turning the ball over."
The upside, as Luck saw it, was a 2-minute drive just before halftime that led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal.
"It was encouraging," Luck said about the late first-half score. "(But) we've got to punch the ball in when we're down there. Got to get seven points."
After the game, Luck summed up the night by saying simply: "Disappointed in myself."
"I know I made a lot of mistakes that need to be corrected if we're going to have a chance to be a good offense," he said.
Daniel Herron led the Colts with 68 rushing yards on eight attempts.
FIRST QUARTER (9:33 remaining)
The Colts' defensive first unit gave up its first touchdown of the preseason as the Saints marched 80 yards in 13 plays with the opening kickoff. Quarterback Drew Brees completed passes of 19 yards to Pierre Thomas and 12 yards to Marques Colston. Mark Ingram had a big run of 17 yards, and Brees produced a 10-yard scramble. The TD came on a 3-yard pass, Brees to Austin Johnson. Shayne Graham added the extra point.Saints 7, Colts 0.
FIRST QUARTER (3:19 remaining)
Two runs for 13 yards by Trent Richardson got Indy's drive off to a nice start. Two penalties against the Saints – roughing the passer and illegal use of hands – helped the Colts' cause. Quarterback Andrew Luck capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Coby Fleener. Adam Vinatieri booted the extra point.Saints 7, Colts 7.
FIRST QUARTER (32 seconds remaining)
The Saints came right back behind some nifty passing by Brees. He hit Jimmy Graham for a 38-yard gain. He tossed to Thomas for 26 yards. For the TD, Brees passed 13 yards to Colston. Shayne Graham added the extra point. Saints 14, Colts 7.
SECOND QUARTER (12:17 remaining)
When Indy's Luck was intercepted by Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints got the ball at the Colts' 43-yard line. Luke McCown took over at quarterback for New Orleans. The Saints' drive stalled, due in large part to a nine-yard sack by Indy's Erik Walden. Shayne Graham kicked a 39-yard field goal to extend the Saints' lead. Saints 17, Colts 7.
SECOND QUARTER (3:00 remaining)
With McCown continuing at quarterback, the Saints used a nice combination of running and passing to march from their own 11-yard line to the Colts' 1. The big play was a 28-yard scramble by McCown for an important first down. After a delay penalty at the goal line, McCown tossed an incompletion on third down. Shayne Graham came in for 24-yard field goal. Saints 20, Colts 7.
SECOND QUARTER (13 seconds remaining)
Luck heated up, completing passes of 11 yards to Ahmad Bradshaw, 10 yards to Fleener, 23 yards to Griff Whalen and 7 yards to Hakeem Nicks. But the Colts' drive ran out of steam when Luck missed on a pair of throws from the 2-yard line. Vinatieri hit a 20-yard field goal.Saints 20, Colts 10.
FOURTH QUARTER (13:39 remaining)
The Colts sliced their deficit to three points, using two big plays on a touchdown drive that required only 51 seconds. First, running back Daniel Herron burst through the middle and got into the secondary for a 43-yard gain. Then, quarterback Chandler Harnish lofted a 22-yard TD pass to Josh Lenz. Vinatieri connected on the extra point. Saints 20, Colts 17.
FOURTH QUARTER (1:55 remaining)
When the Colts' Lenz fumbled a New Orleans punt and the Saints recovered, it pretty much sealed the home team's fate. The Saints took over at the Colts' 32. New Orleans' offense got little going, so Derek Dimke kicked a 45-yard field goal. Saints 23, Colts 17.