NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees had four turnovers, was sacked five times, and his team was down by three touchdowns in the waning moments of the first half.
The Saints still won. On the road. By double digits.
Generally, teams can’t win that way in the NFL. Then again, conventional wisdom goes out the window when a club is on pace to break the league’s all-time single-season scoring record.
“Honest to God, we knew it was going to happen,” Brees said, recalling the locker room mood at halftime of the Saints’ 46-34 comeback win at Miami on Sunday. “Sure enough, it did.”
New Orleans has scored 45 or more points in a game four times this season. The Saints have averaged 39.7 points through their first six games. That puts them on pace to challenge the single-season scoring record owned by the 2007 New England Patriots, who averaged 36.8 points. Those Patriots went 16-0.
And it hasn’t just been the Saints’ vaunted offense putting up all the points during their 6-0 start. Big plays by the defense were part of the reason New Orleans scored 43 points in the last 30:02 at Miami.
New Orleans’ first touchdown in the final seconds of the first half was set up by safety Roman Harper’s forced fumble and linebacker Scott Shanle’s recovery. Then came two interceptions returned for scores in the second half by safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Tracy Porter — with Porter’s coming in the final minutes and keeping New Orleans perfect against the point spread as well.
“Our mentality on this defense is, ’Why can’t we make a big play and score?’ and we did that,” Shanle said. “Obviously you only get so many possessions in a game for your offense and if you can score on defense, that is a huge momentum swing.”
The Dolphins game marked the first time all season the Saints were forced to come from behind, and they appeared to be on the ropes, down 24-3 late in the first half.
Known best for Brees’ prolific passing, New Orleans won in Miami with more guts and muscle than finesse.
While Brees passed for 298 yards and one touchdown to Marques Colston, he scored twice on quarterback sneaks and also made a key block on Reggie Bush’s 10-yard touchdown, helping the running back get to the corner on a reverse.
Mike Bell rushed for 80 punishing yards in the second half, knocking tacklers flat on their backs and preventing the Dolphins from pressuring Brees as much as they had in the first half.
“Everyone thinks we’re a finesse team and we’re always up early, but here we showed that we can come from behind,” Bell said. “There was a major (deficit) at halftime, and we came back, and persevered, and we stuck together.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Whether they can run the table in the regular season and set a single-season scoring record is another matter.
The ’07 Patriots twice scored more than 50 en route to a season total of 589 points, including 52 against Washington and 56 at Buffalo. They also scored 48 at Dallas, 49 at Miami and scored 38 points four times.
Fittingly, if the Saints continue their torrid pace and truly threaten to equal the Patriots’ perfect ’07 regular season record or challenge their all-time scoring mark, New England will have a say in the matter: Tom Brady’s bunch is scheduled to visit New Orleans on Monday night, Nov. 30.
PFT: Defensive end finally finds a new team in San Diego — and for a honey of a deal that would be worth a max of $13.35 million.
PFT: Jets RB Mike Goodson was charged with five gun and drug counts Friday morning, after New Jersey State Police found the car he was riding in parked in the middle of Route 80 in Denville, N.J.
2013 SNF Schedule
Check out the 2013 Sunday Night Football schedule.
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