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(Sunday, September 13th)
Final Score: New Orleans 45, Detroit 27
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees continued where he left off from last season as he threw a career-high six touchdowns for New Orleans while Detroit continued where it left off from a year ago as the Saints defeated the Lions, 45-27, in the season opener at the Superdome.
Brees, the 2008 offensive player of the year, went 26-for-34 with 358 yards and a pick for the Saints (1-0), who finished last season 8-8. Brees threw for 5,069 yards last season and fell just 15 yards shy of Dan Marino's record for a single season.
"I wasn't keeping track," Brees said of his eye-popping numbers on Sunday. "It's just funny how it adds up if you take it one play at a time. I had a lot of opportunities out there, a lot of guys made some big plays in this game."
Jeremy Shockey caught two touchdowns while Devery Henderson hauled in five catches for 103 yards and a score for New Orleans, which has won its past two games against Detroit. Mike Bell had 28 carries for a career-high 143 yards in the win.
Matthew Stafford, the first overall pick of this year's draft, had an inauspicious start as he was picked off three times and went 16-for-37 with 205 yards. However, he did have a rushing touchdown for the Lions (0-1), who are coming off the only 0-16 season in NFL history and have dropped their last 18 games.
Kevin Smith had a rushing touchdown while Calvin Johnson added three catches for 90 yards for Detroit, which has also dropped 13 straight road games.
Detroit coach Jim Schwartz made his NFL coaching debut.
"[Stafford] didn't play well enough for us to win, but he wasn't the only one out there," Schwartz said of his young QB. "We made it very difficult on him."
Trailing by 18 points at the start of the second half, Detroit began the frame with the ball and was able to cut into its deficit.
Facing a 3rd-and-6 at his 33-yard line, Stafford dumped the ball over the middle for Johnson, who broke a tackle and raced down the left sideline for what appeared to be a touchdown. However, the line judge ruled Johnson out at the three-yard line. Stafford later punched the ball in from a yard out to make it a 28-17 game.
The Saints responded with a 10-play drive that covered 64 yards and was finished with a 39-yard field goal off the foot of John Carney for a 31-17 lead.
Detroit was able to answer with a 24-yard field goal from Jason Hanson to again make it an 11-point game, but, on the first play after getting the ball back, Brees hit Henderson over the middle and the receiver took it into the end zone from 58 yards out for a 38-20 lead with 3:03 to play in the third.
Stafford was intercepted by Scott Shanle on the Lions' next touch, but Bell fumbled the ball on the next snap and Louis Delmas rumbled into the end zone from 65 yards out to make it a 38-27 game with 1:29 to play in the third.
The Saints, though, essentially sealed the win on their next possession as a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters and lasted 13 plays was finished when Brees found Heath Evans in the end zone from 13 yards out for a 45-27 lead with 8:29 to play.
New Orleans got the ball to start the game and a 42-yard kickoff return from Robert Meachem gave the team the ball near midfield. Just five plays later, Brees stepped up in the pocket and fired the ball to the back of the end zone where Marques Colston made a leaping grab for a nine-yard score less than three minutes in.
After holding Detroit to a three-and-out, the Saints again got good field position thanks to a 28-yard punt. On the third play, Brees used a play action fake and hit Meachem wide open in the end zone on a 39-yard score for a 14-0 lead with 9:34 to play in the first.
The Lions put together a successful drive on their ensuing touch. A nine-play drive that covered 51 yards was capped on a Hanson 47-yard field goal through the uprights with 5:12 to play in the first. The big play of the drive was also the first play of the drive as Stafford connected with Johnson on a 21- yard catch-and-run.
Thanks to a 43-yard punt return from Dennis Northcutt, Detroit had the ball at the New Orleans 19 late in the first. Facing a 4th-and-1 at the four-yard line, Stafford pitched the ball out to the left for Smith, who went into the end zone unopposed to make it a 14-10 game less than a minute into the second.
New Orleans tried a flea-flicker play, but Brees was picked off by Anthony Henry deep in Detroit territory. However, the Lions were unable to move the ball and had to punt it away.
On a methodical 10-play drive that took a bit over five minutes and covered 65 yards, the Saints made it a 21-10 game as Brees again used play action, rolled out to the right and threw a soft toss to Shockey, who caught the ball from a yard out with 3:45 left in the first half.
New Orleans held Detroit on the next touch and quickly marched down the field to score again. A four-play drive that covered 59 yards was capped on a leaping 15-yard catch in the back of the end zone by Shockey for a 28-10 lead with 1:10 to play until the break.
After getting held again, Detroit had to punt the ball away, but Reggie Bush fumbled it and the Lions recovered at the New Orleans 15. Stafford, though, was picked off by Darren Sharper on the first play and Sharper took it 51 yards and, combined with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct on Detroit, the Saints had the ball at the Detroit 30.
However, the Lions defense held and the Saints lined up for a 34-yard field goal, but Carney's attempt was blocked.
Sharper had two INT's in the game and now has 56 in his career, which is the most among active players...The Lions had one interception all last season...New Orleans plays in Philly next week...Detroit hosts Minnesota next Sunday...Smith finished the game with just 20 yards on 15 attempts...New Orleans is now 10-9-1 in the series against Detroit...Detroit allowed 517 points last season, the second most in NFL history...The Saints had 515 yards compared to just 231 for Detroit. Also, New Orleans had 28 first downs and controlled the ball for 36:30...The Lions were flagged for eight penalties for 80 yards while the Saints had seven penalties for 36 yards...Brees' six TD passes tied a team record set by Billy Kilmer in 1969 and were the most ever in the opening week in NFL history.
09/13 20:47:11 ET