Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem pulls in a touchdown reception in the first quarter. Photos by John Snell.
Graham reaches across the goal line to score.
Defensive ends Cameron Jordan (94) and Glenn Foster (97) celebrate a first-half sack.
NEW ORLEANS - The good vibes coming from former LSU stars Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson's homecoming was short-lived as Saints quarterback Drew Brees shredded the Cardinals defense.
Brees finished 29-46 passing for 342 yards and three touchdowns. He was also lethal by ground scoring on a 7-yard touchdown, totaling 23 yards on the day.
The Saints 31-7 triumph over the Cardinals, represented the most points scored this season for the black and gold. This is the Saints third 3-0 start under Head Coach Sean Payton.
It wasn't smooth early for the Saints, Rob Ryan's defense got beat up on the Cardinals first drive in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer went 4-5 passing, for 44 yards, spreading the ball all over the field. The drive was capped off by an Alfonso Smith 3-yard touchdown run to put Arizona up 7-0. That would be the first and only scoring drive for the Cardinals.
Brees and his receivers responded on the very next drive for the Saints. Brees was a clinical 5-6 passing, for 88 yards, ending with a Robert Meachem 27-yard touchdown reception. After two total possessions, the teams were knotted at 7-7.
Brees came out firing on his very next drive for the Saints starting out 3-3 passing, 29 yards, but a Sam Acho 9-yard sack killed the momentum.
Right before half the Saints offense finally got back on track. The failures of three punts in a row by the black and gold were quickly erased when Brees hit Jimmy Graham for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Brees went 4-6 passing, for 58 yards. Saints led 14-7 over the Cardinals going into halftime.
The "Honey Badger" finally got the best of Brees on the first drive of the third quarter. Mathieu killed an impressive Saints drive by intercepting Brees in the Saints end zone. It was the former Tigers first interception of his NFL career.
After a Glen Foster sack forced yet another Cardinals punt, Brees and the offense went back to work after their first turnover of the day. The Saints signal caller went right back at Mathieu, and this time he prevailed. Graham out-muscled Mathieu for a 29-yard gain down to the Cardinals 20-yard line. The pass would set up a Garrett Hartley 31-yard field goal. Hartley's strike made it 17 unanswered points for the Saints.
The scoring would continue for the Saints on their very next offensive drive. Brees already had two touchdowns by air, so naturally he wanted one by ground. On third down at the Cardinals seven, Brees called his own number and dove in for a touchdown. The touchdown scamper put the Saints ahead 24-7 early in the fourth quarter.
Ryan's defense held Palmer in-check most of the contest after the Cardinals first touchdown drive. Rookie Kenny Vaccaro picked Palmer off after Arizona moved into the Saints red zone. Vaccaro was tabbed starter at safety after Roman Harper sat out with an injury to his knee.
That would lead to more damage done by the Who Dat offense. Brees found Graham twice on the drive, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to the unstoppable tight end. The touchdown made it 31 unanswered points for the Saints.
Not to be outdone by the Saints offense, Ryan's defense registered another interception on the next Cardinals drive. Keenan Lewis the recipient of Palmer's wayward pass.
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