Nov 24, 2014 10:25 PM
Saints lead Ravens 17-14 at halftime
The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Drew Brees completed 19 of 24 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns, and the New Orleans Saints held a 17-14 halftime lead over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.
Brees found Marques Colston for 26 yards with 17 seconds left in the second quarter to give New Orleans its first lead of the game.
Baltimore's Joe Flacco was 7 for 10 for 129 yards and one touchdown of 15 yards to Steve Smith. Justin Forsett had 115 yards rushing on 13 carries, including a 13-yard scoring run that gave Baltimore a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Smith and Forsett gave the Saints fits throughout the half. Smith caught three passes for 69 yards, including a 40-yard reception that put Baltimore inside the New Orleans 10 as the first quarter ended. But the Ravens fumbled the ball away, ending the promising drive.
Forsett, whose 5.4 yards per carry coming into the game led all NFL running backs, averaged 8.8 yards per rush in the first half.
Brees's first scoring pass went for 10 yards to tight end Jimmy Graham. Shayne Graham kicked a 20-yard field goal for New Orleans, capping a drive that would have stalled near midfield if not for Haloti Ngata's personal foul for roughing the passer on what would have been a third-down incompletion.
The Ravens came in needing a victory to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1), who lead the AFC North after winning at Houston on Sunday. The Saints were trying to take sole possession of first place in the anemic NFC South following a loss by Atlanta (4-7) a day earlier.
Joe Morgan, who struggled to crack New Orleans' lineup earlier this season and then was suspended two games for undisclosed team violations, broke loose for two plays longer than 60 yards the first two times he touched the ball.
He gained 67 yards on a running play on New Orleans' opening drive, and then caught a 62-yard pass on the Saints' third series, setting up Graham's TD.
The Saints were in position to take an early lead after Morgan's long gain on an end-around. It took defensive back Lardarius Webb's horse-collar tackle at the 2 to prevent Morgan from scoring.
The play gave New Orleans first-and-goal on the 1, but the Ravens stopped two runs by Mark Ingram and a scramble by Brees before stuffing Ingram again this time for a loss of 2 yards on fourth-and-goal.
Taking over at its 3, Baltimore needed just one play to break out of the shadow of its own end zone. Justin Forsett burst through the middle of the line and scampered 38 yards to the 41. Then it was time for Smith, a long-time Saints nemesis from his 13 seasons with Carolina, to torment Saints fans a little more.
He had a clutch third-down catch to sustain the drive, which culminated with his touchdown catch as he crashed down backward at the left edge of the end zone.
That gave Smith 11 career touchdown catches against New Orleans, more than he has against any other team.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL