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(Sunday, October 4th)
Final Score: New Orleans 24, NY Jets 10
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - New Orleans' defense rattled rookie Mark Sanchez into four turnovers, two of which resulted in scores, in the Saints' 24-10 win over the New York Jets in a bout between unbeaten clubs.
Darren Sharper returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown and Remi Ayodele recovered a Sanchez fumble in the end zone in the victory.
Pierre Thomas rushed for 86 yards on 19 carries and his fourth-quarter touchdown cemented the Saints' win. New Orleans is off to its first 4-0 start since 1993, when they reeled off five straight wins to begin the season.
The Saints' offense mustered only 10 points on Sunday, with Drew Brees, one of the league's best passers, held without a touchdown. However, the New Orleans defense picked up the slack, sacking Sanchez four times.
"This isn't about style points. It's about the formula to win each game and then get onto the next week. That's really the truth," said Saints coach Sean Payton.
Brees completed 20-of-32 passes for 190 yards, while Sanchez finished 14-of-27 passing for 138 yards, but was picked off three times as the Jets (3-1) failed to build on their amazing start to the season.
"At times I guess he looked like a rookie today," said Jets coach Rex Ryan. "He made some mistakes I'm sure he wished he had back, but he wasn't the only one. We have to do a better job at protecting him."
New Orleans got the ball to start the game and marched down the field before the drive stalled inside the red zone. John Carney came on and drilled a 34- yard field goal.
With the Jets threatening, Sharper picked off Sanchez's intended pass to Dustin Keller on the first play of the second quarter and rumbled down the right sideline for a 10-0 Saints lead.
"That's a classic rookie quarterback looking right at his receiver," said Sanchez. "Sharper read me all the way and I took him right to it. There was absolutely no excuse for it. It was a poor decision."
The Saints moved the ball efficiently on their next series, but on 4th-and- goal from the one, Brees threw an incompletion.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, Sanchez got hit from behind by Will Smith and Ayodele fell on the loose ball in the end zone.
New York finally dented the scoreboard when Jay Feely booted a 38-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining in the first half for a 17-3 margin.
The Jets caught a break in the third quarter via a Reggie Bush fumble. The turnover set New York up at the New Orleans 34. Four plays later, the margin was trimmed to 17-10 on a 15-yard run by Thomas Jones.
After a series of defensive stops by both sides, Brees orchestrated an 11- play, 74-yard drive that culminated in Thomas' one-yard score with 6:07 left in the game.
Any chance of a comeback were dashed when Sanchez was intercepted by Sharper -- for a second time -- and Randall Gay on the Jets' last two possessions.
"I felt like we managed the game well on offense. I felt like we were balanced, especially in the fourth quarter and we did everything we needed to do to win the football game," said Brees.
The Saints have not trailed this season...Sharper leads active players with 59 interceptions...Thomas caught four passes for 46 yards...Jones gained 48 yards on the ground...Jerricho Cotchery had 71 yards on five receptions for New York...The Jets were 3-for-12 on third downs, while New Orleans finished 4- for-13.
10/04 20:46:40 ET
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