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Saints beat Packers for fourth straight win

Green Bay Packers fans watch the closing minutes of the game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday at Lambeau Field. (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

The Sports Xchange

GREEN BAY — Drew Brees threw his 500th career touchdown pass but was more excited about another number.

Four.

Brees continued his mastery of the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints won their fourth straight game with a 26-17 victory on Sunday.

“This goes to recruiting,” Brees said. “You bring in the type of guys that are smart, tough, character guys that can see through the trees in the forest sometimes and understand the long-term vision and understand there will be bumps in the road.

“There will be bits of adversity, but keep your eyes on the prize and focus on the process and know that good things will happen. Despite our 0-2 start, I think everybody believed it.”

Brees completed a barrage of short passes that added up to a 27-of-38 day for 331 yards.

In seven career games against the Packers, Brees has exceeded 300 passing yards all seven times.

Running back Mark Ingram II gained 105 of the Saints’ 161 rushing yards as New Orleans (4-2) piled up 485 yards and weathered Brees’ two early interceptions.

Packers quarterback Brett Hundley, making his first start for injured Aaron Rodgers, was just 12-of-25 for 87 yards.

Hundley didn’t make any big mistakes — his lone interception came with the Packers trailing by nine points in the final minutes — but he also didn’t make any big plays.

“Our passing game, we can sit here and pick it apart all we want,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “Let’s just blame it on the head coach today.”

The game turned midway through the fourth quarter. The Saints had just taken a 19-17 lead and then forced a three-and-out punt by bringing pressure on Hundley on third-and-9.

New Orleans took over at its 45 and wasted no time putting the game away. Ingram blew through a huge hole on the right side for a gain of 23 yards on second down, with an additional 14 yards tacked on because of safety Kentrell Brice’s horse-collar tackle.

Brees’ third-and-goal sneak from the 1 for a touchdown put the game away at 26-17 with 4:55 remaining.

On the next possession, Hundley was intercepted by safety Kenny Vaccaro.

“(I) got it under my belt,” said Hundley, who could be the Packers’ quarterback for the rest of the season with Rodgers recovering from a broken collarbone and on injured reserve. “Didn’t win, obviously. We’ve got to be better, and we will, but we got the first one out of the way.

“It didn’t go the way we planned, and we’ve got to look at the film and make some adjustments.”

New Orleans scored on its opening two possessions of the second half to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 16-14 lead. Brees’ pump fake freed up receiver Brandon Coleman for a 22-yard touchdown. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark blocked the extra-point attempt to keep the Packers in front by one.

Including playoffs, it was touchdown pass No. 500 for Brees.

“It’s not really a time to reflect right now,” Brees said. “We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us. Keep doing things the right way. Keep growing as a team, and all that stuff.”

The Saints took the lead on their next possession. A catch-and-run gain of 47 yards by receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on the first snap was the key play in setting up Wil Lutz’s 28-yard field goal with 4:08 left in the third quarter.

Green Bay recaptured the lead on the second play of the fourth quarter with Mason Crosby’s 46-yard field goal. Rookie running back Aaron Jones’ 21-yard run, during which he was stopped at the line of scrimmage but escaped to his right, was the key play.

New Orleans retaliated on its next possession with Lutz’s 44-yard field goal, making it 19-17 with 10:21 remaining. A 20-yard completion to receiver Michael Thomas and a 19-yard run by rookie Alvin Kamara put the Saints in scoring position.

Jones finished with 131 rushing yards and a touchdown for Green Bay (4-3), which lost for the second consecutive week.

The Packers led 14-7 at halftime and Saints head coach Sean Payton felt fortunate it wasn’t worse.

“At halftime, you could have, against this team, easily have been down 14, 21 points,” Payton said. “We were down seven and looking at each other like, ‘Let’s go.’ Those early takeaways, those are just percentages and numbers. It just becomes harder and harder.

“I think our guys will continue to work and improve it, but overall it was a good team effort.”

Jones put the Packers on the board with a 46-yard touchdown run on the opening possession. He accounted for 70 of the 75 yards on the drive.

The Saints’ first two possessions ended with interceptions that spoiled scoring opportunities. The first came from the Packers’ 20-yard line, with Brees’ pass into the end zone intended for receiver Brandon Coleman grabbed by cornerback Damarious Randall.

The second came from the Packers’ 36. Brees went deep up the right sideline to Thomas, but cornerback Davon House was in perfect position for the theft.

New Orleans scored early in the second quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run by Ingram. The Packers had only 10 defenders on the third-and-1 play.

Green Bay answered on the ensuing possession. On third-and-4 from the Saints’ 14, Hundley escaped to the left and had a clear path to the end zone. He dodged a hit by cornerback Ken Crawley at the 1 and got drilled by Vaccaro at the goal line.

NOTES: The Packers were without two starters, LG Lane Taylor (ankle) and S Morgan Burnett (hamstring). Saints RG Larry Warford missed the second half with an abdominal injury. ... Packers CB Damarious Randall has an interception in three consecutive games. ... Saints RB Mark Ingram II and QB Drew Brees did Lambeau Leaps beyond the end zone after touchdowns. ... Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr., with seven catches for 141 yards, had only his second game of more than 120 receiving yards. His first was vs. Buffalo while a member of the Dolphins in 2008.

New Orleans.............. 0..... 7     9     10    —    26

Green Bay.................. 7..... 7     0       3    —    17

First Quarter

GB—Aa.Jones 46 yard rush (Crosby kick), 13:00.

Second Quarter

NO—Ma.Ingram 12 yard rush (Lutz kick), 12:31.

GB—Hundley 14 yard rush (Crosby kick), 8:37.

Third Quarter

NO—B.Coleman 22 yard pass from Brees(Kick failed), 11:24.

NO—Lutz 28 yard field goal, 4:08.

Fourth Quarter

GB—Crosby 46 yard field goal, 14:50.

NO—Lutz 44 yard field goal, 10:21.

NO—Brees 1 yard rush (Lutz kick), 4:55.

A—78,380.

TEAM STATISTICS

                                              NO              GB

First Downs.......................... 25              16

Total Net Yards................... 485            260

Rushes-Yds..................... 36-161       24-181

Passing.............................. 324             79

Sacked-Yds Lost................ 1-7             1-8

Comp-Att-Int..................... 27-38-2      12-25-1

Punts................................ 2-39.0        5-47.6

Punt Returns....................... 1-7             0-0

Kickoff Returns.................. 2-57           2-52

Interceptions Ret................. 1-0             2-0

Penalties-Yards................. 7-80           8-54

Fumbles-Lost...................... 1-0             2-0

Time of Possession.......... 36:56         23:04

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING-NO, Ma.Ingram 22-105, Kamara 9-57, Brees 5-(minus 1). GB, Aa.Jones 17-131, Hundley 3-44, Montgomery 4-6.

PASSING-NO, Brees 27-38-2-331. GB, Hundley 12-25-1-87.

RECEIVING-NO, Ginn 7-141, Mc.Thomas 7-82, Kamara 5-50, Ma.Ingram 4-5, B.Coleman 2-31, Fleener 2-22. GB, Aa.Jones 3-7, Ma.Bennett 2-17, Cobb 2-15, D.Adams 2-12, Allison 1-14, Jo.Nelson 1-13, Montgomery 1-9.

MISSED FIELD GOALS-GB, Crosby 1.

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