The Denver Broncos showed once again that they are a major force in the league as they exposed the poor running game for New Orleans and held on to win despite a valiant effort by the Saints. New Orleans’ QB Drew Brees finished with 421 yards and one touchdown, completing 39 of 48 attempts.
Running backs Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas each had two touchdowns. Denver held a 21 to 3 lead early in the second quarter but gave New Orleans several chances to take the game away, including two missed field goal attempts from kicker Martin Gramatica who had been perfect for the season up until that point.
The Broncos scored first with a touchdown about six minutes into the first quarter. QB Jay Cutler (21/34, 264 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) began the drive from New Orleans’ 45 yard line and ended with a high short pass to tight end Nate Jackson in the end zone. Their next possession on second and one with about a minute left in the first, Cutler threw a deep pass to Brandon Marshall (155 yards and 1 TD) in the end zone from New Orleans’ 35 that was initially called incomplete but was reversed after Denver challenged the call.
The Broncos got their third touchdown of the first half as the second quarter started after a fumble by Reggie Bush on New Orleans’ 34 yard line that was picked up by outside linebacker Nate Webster and returned to the end zone.
The Saints had done little to nothing in the first quarter and made it look like it would be a long day for New Orleans, managing only a 43 yard field goal.
New Orleans then turned the game around starting with a 23 yard catch and run by RB Reggie Bush on third and 11 and culminating with a touchdown run by RB Pierre Thomas. CB Mike McKenzie intercepted Cutler on the next possession and giving Reggie Bush his first touchdown of the game.
The Saints failed to put the ball into the end zone in the last few minutes of the first half despite four rushing attempts. However, DE Charles Grant hit RB Andre Hall for a safety on the next play, forcing the Broncos to punt and ending with Gramatica missing his first field goal attempt as the half ended and the score 24 to 19.
The second half was a showdown with either team looking like they might win. Denver was able to score again when RB Michael Pittman rushed for two yards into the end zone midway through the third quarter.
New Orleans answered with a 74 yard bomb to WR Robert Meachem, putting them six yards from the goal line and one pass to Reggie Bush away from their third touchdown of the day. Denver K Matt Prader then hit from 34 yards to put the Broncos up 34 to 26 in the third quarter.
The Saints scored another touchdown with Pierre Thomas but could not make the two-point conversion pass to Reggie Bush. New Orleans recovered a fumble as Denver was four yards away from another score, setting up the second botched field goal attempt. The final eight seconds gave the Saints the ball for the final time but they had no timeouts and were unable to do anything to prevent the loss.
Denver now has a record of three wins and no losses while New Orleans is one and two. The Broncos face the winless Kansas City Chiefs next week while the Saints the two and one 49ers.