INDIANAPOLIS –The New Orleans Saints, ranked 31st in NFL rushing yardage, found the traction they needed on the artificial turf of Lucas Oil Stadium.
The visiting Saints ran for 183 yards Sunday – nearly 100 yards over their season average. It gave them a lift as they pranced to a 27-point lead by early in the third quarter. Andrew Luck and the Colts mounted a push thereafter, putting three passing touchdowns on the scoreboard, but they ran out of steam in a 27-21 loss.
After the Colts' third TD, they attempted an onside kick that New Orleans recovered. And when the Saints' Drew Brees completed a 20-yard pass to Marques Colston on third down just before the 2-minute warning, the resulting first down allowed the visitors to run out the clock.
Mark Ingram rushed for 143 yards for New Orleans, averaging 10.2 yards on 14 carries. Brees passed for 255 yards on 28 completions in 44 attempts, with one score and one interception.
For the Colts, Luck hit 23-of-44 passes for 333 yards with the three scores and two interceptions. T.Y. Hilton totaled 150 receiving yards on four catches, including touchdowns of 87 and 46 yards in the second half.
THE TURNING POINT – Consecutive turnovers by the Colts led to a pair of second-quarter touchdowns for the Saints. First, New Orleans' Stephone Anthony intercepted Luck and the Saints took possession at Indy's 23-yard line, scoring five plays later. Then, on New Orleans' kickoff, returner Griff Whalen fumbled, the Saints recovered and needed only three plays to find paydirt. New Orleans took a 20-0 lead before halftime.
THE HEAD COACH'S QUOTE – "The first half was unacceptable," Colts Coach Chuck Pagano said. "It's hard enough to win football games when you don't shoot yourself in the foot. You are not going to win many games in the National Football League when you turn the ball over, you have penalties and you have miscues."
THE SIGNIFICANT PLAYS – Colts cornerback Vontae Davis intercepted two passes, but only one counted. His first, at the goal line, was negated by a holding call against Indy. And the Saints went on to score three plays later in the second quarter. Davis' second pick, this one in the end zone, kept the Saints from possibly scoring again with 3 ½ minutes left in the first half.
STRONG SHOWING IN DEFEAT – Indy's Pat McAfee, the leading punter in the league, booted 10 times for a 51.7-yard average and a net average of 45.3. He had a long punt of 61 yards. Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman totaled a game-high 12 tackles.
THE SCORING RECAP
FIRST QUARTER (2:31 remaining)
Drew Brees completed a pair of passes for 41 yards to set up the Saints. When the drive stalled, New Orleans appeared to call for a field goal attempt. It was a fake. Holder Luke McCown stood up and quickly located Benjamin Watson for a 25-yard passing gain. The Saints, with first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, called running back Khiry Robinson's number, and he carried the ball into the end zone. Kai Forbath added the extra point. Saints 7, Colts 0.
SECOND QUARTER (14:56 remaining)
The Saints extended their lead after the Colts lost an opportunity to cut short the New Orleans march. Indy cornerback Vontae Davis intercepted a Brees pass near the end zone, but the play was negated by a holding call against linebacker D'Quell Jackson. Three plays later, Robinson took a handoff and ran it 6 yards for the touchdown. The Saints' possession was set up by linebacker Stephone Anthony, who intercepted a pass by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and took it to the Indy 23 on a short return. Forbath hit the extra point. **Saints 14, Colts 0.
Photos from the week 7 game against the New Orleans Saints
SECOND QUARTER (13:36 remaining)
Another turnover hurt the Colts. On the Saints' kickoff, Colts returner Griff Whalen fumbled and New Orleans' Kyle Wilson recovered. Three plays later, Brees connected with Michael Hoomanawanui on a 16-yard scoring pass. Forbath missed the extra point.Saints 20, Colts 0.
THIRD QUARTER (10:26 remaining)
The Saints continued to dominate the action, compiling a six-play, 82-yard scoring drive on their first possession of the third quarter. Running back Mark Ingram rushed for 52 yards on the first two plays to set up New Orleans. Ingram also carried in from the 1-yard line for the touchdown. Forbath added the extra point. Saints 27, Colts 0.
THIRD QUARTER (3:42 remaining)
The Colts used a big play to finally get on the scoreboard. Luck located T.Y. Hilton for an 87-yard pass completion for the score. Adam Vinatieri booted the extra point. **Saints 27, Colts 7.
THIRD QUARTER (1 second remaining)
Another big gainer via the air, again from Luck to Hilton, cut the Indy deficit to 13 points. Luck, with plenty of protection, lofted a nice pass to a wide-open Hilton, who stretched and fell into the end zone for the 46-yard TD. Vinatieri made the extra point. **Saints 27, Colts 14.
FOURTH QUARTER (3:05 remaining)
The Colts marched 80 yards for another score, with Luck passing for all of the yardage. The big play was a 35-yarder to Andre Johnson. Another pass went for 27 yards to Coby Fleener. The touchdown went to Donte Moncrief for eight yards. Vinatieri added the extra point.** Saints 27, Colts 21.