Final

Cardinals 7

(1-2, 0-2 away)

Saints 31

(3-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 22, 2013

Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA 

1 2 3 4 T
ARI 7 0 0 07
NO 7 7 3 1431

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 342 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: K. Robinson (NO) - 4 CAR, 38 YDS

Receiving: J. Graham (NO) - 9 REC, 134 YDS, 2 TD

Drew Brees scrambles for TD as Saints whip Cardinals

Associated Press
NFL Sunday Blitz: Cardinals-Saints Recap
Michele Steele and Tom Waddle break down the Saints week 3 win over the Cardinals.Tags: NFL, recap, Sunday Blitz, week 3, Michele Steele, Tom Waddle, Saints, Cardinals
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NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees pulled himself up in the end zone after his diving touchdown scramble and held both arms high, basking in the cheers pouring forth from the rollicking Superdome crowd.

It has only been a year since the Saints were 0-3, shrouded in scandal and going nowhere. It might as well have been a lifetime ago.

Brees passed for three touchdowns to go with his scoring run and the Saints beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-7 on Sunday to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2009, when they won the Super Bowl.

"Hopefully we can just continue to get a little bit better, and gain confidence and momentum and keep the train rolling," said Brees, who connected twice with tight end Jimmy Graham for scores and once with Robert Meachem. "I'm very happy to be 3-0, 2-0 in the (NFC South) division, 3-0 in the NFC. All those things are significant."

Defensively, New Orleans couldn't ask for much more. The Saints allowed a single-season record 7,042 yards a year ago. This season under new coordinator Rob Ryan, New Orleans has allowed four TDs in the first three games. The unit produced four sacks and two interceptions of Arizona's Carson Palmer.

Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan sacked Palmer twice. Outside linebacker Junior Galette added another, as did rookie defensive end Glenn Foster.

"It was all just pressure everywhere," said Jordan, who exchanged high-fives with fellow defensive lineman Akiem Hicks in the locker room afterward. "When you're part of a D-line like that, I mean, it's a party."

First-round draft choice safety Kenny Vaccaro made his first career interception, and Keenan Lewis, acquired in free agency last offseason, had his first interception with the Saints.

Coach Sean Payton, who looks to be building another contender after returning from last season's bounty ban, summed it up as a "really good afternoon."

"We finished this game the way we like to," Payton said. "I'm proud of our guys."

Arizona (1-2) had a 7-0 lead after driving 80 yards on the game's opening possession, with Alfonso Smith scoring on a 3-yard run. After that, the Cardinals didn't score.

"They can rush the passer. There's two really good pass rushers that people don't know a lot about," said Palmer, who was 18 of 35 for 187 yards. "Cameron Jordan is really good. He showed that today. Junior Galette is really good. They are physical guys. They stop the run. They rush the passer and are a really good combination."

Brees was 29 of 46 for 342 yards. He was intercepted once by New Orleans native and former LSU star Tyrann Mathieu. That ended a scoring threat, but only delayed the inevitable on a day when Arizona's short-handed defense was little match for the prolific Saints passing attack.

Arizona, whose defense was missing four starters by early in the second half, had no answer for the 6-foot-7 Graham, who caught nine passes for 134 yards, one week after catching 10 passes for 179 yards in Tampa Bay.

"We had critical injuries, and some young guys had to chip in and play," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "They didn't handle it as well as I hoped."

The Saints responded quickly to the Cardinals' opening score with Brees' pinpoint 27-yard pass to Meachem.

New Orleans took the lead in the second quarter on Brees' 16-yard, back-shoulder throw to Graham, who went up high and twisted to make a grab that safety Yeremiah Bell was powerless to stop.

"It's just run, jump and get it," said Graham, a former college basketball power forward. "That's just what we do."

Brees' TD scramble made it a three-score game early in the fourth.

Vaccaro's interception thwarted the next drive and started the series that culminated with Graham's second TD on a quick 7-yard pass over the middle.

"Today was a huge step for us," said Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who joined New Orleans as a free agent in 2012, only to be part of the first Saints team to miss the playoffs in three seasons. "Last year, I don't know what that was, but this year is what I definitely expected. I love being here."

Game notes


Cardinals starting NT Dan Williams was excused for the death of his father in a car accident. OLB Lorenzo Alexander (right foot) and S Rashad Johnson went out in the first half, and OLB Sam Acho (left ankle) went down in the third quarter. ... Saints WR Lance Moore left the game in the second half and the Saints did not provide an update on his condition.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ARI
NO
1st Downs1627
Passing 1st downs
917
Rushing 1st downs
69
1st downs from Penalties
11
3rd down efficiency
5-137-13
4th down efficiency
0-00-0
Total Plays5574
Total Yards247423
Yards per play4.55.7
Total Drives1112
Passing161319
Comp - Att
18-3529-46
Yards per pass
4.66.9
Interceptions thrown
21
Sacks - Yards Lost
4-264-23
Rushing86104
Rushing Attempts
1624
Yards per rush
5.44.3
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-23-5
Penalties3-184-30
Turnovers21
Fumbles lost
00
Interceptions thrown
21
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00
Possession24:2935:31

Passing Leaders

ARIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Palmer18/351875.3024-26
NOC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Brees29/463427.4314-23

Rushing Leaders

ARICARYDSAVGTDLG
Mendenhall9293.206
Smith3279.0121
NOCARYDSAVGTDLG
Robinson4389.5021
Thomas11282.5011

Receiving Leaders

ARIRECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Fitzgerald56412.80266
Floyd44912.30206
NORECYDSAVGTDLGTGTS
Graham913414.922915
Colston57114.20248

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERARINO
ariTD09:13Alfonso Smith 3 Yd Run (Jay Feely Kick) 70
noTD05:28Robert Meachem 27 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 77
SECOND QUARTERARINO
noTD02:52Jimmy Graham 16 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 714
THIRD QUARTERARINO
noFG04:03Garrett Hartley 31 Yd 717
FOURTH QUARTERARINO
noTD14:42Drew Brees 7 Yd Run (Garrett Hartley Kick) 724
noTD05:25Jimmy Graham 7 Yd Pass From Drew Brees (Garrett Hartley Kick) 731

Research Notes

The Saints' defense has held all three opponents this season to 17 points or less. Last season, New Orleans allowed 17 points or less in three games all season.

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