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Saints Can Play the Hole Game

September 23, 2002|From Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The New Orleans Saints wouldn't go away, even when it appeared they would be blown out. That's why they're still unbeaten.

"You never want to put yourself in that kind of a hole, but with the way we can score, we don't think we're out of it," quarterback Aaron Brooks said after the Saints rallied from a 20-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Bears, 29-23, Sunday.

"It's tough when you're down 20-0, especially in the NFL," Brooks said. "We were lucky we didn't get blown out. We could have been down 28-0 at the half."

Instead, the Saints (3-0) got back in the game by scoring two touchdowns in a 58-second span in the second quarter and got the decisive touchdown when Donte' Stallworth made a great move to score on a 29-yard pass play from Brooks with 1:11 to play.

Sammy Knight then stopped a last-second Bear drive by intercepting a pass by Jim Miller at the goal line. Chicago (2-1) had won its 12 previous games decided by a touchdown or less.

"It shouldn't have come down to the way it did," Miller said. "The play didn't develop. If you let it develop any longer the clock runs out, so either I've got to throw it out of the end zone or throw it quick."

On the winning drive, Brooks had a 14-yard scramble and 11-yard completion to Joe Horn to the Bear 31. On second down, Stallworth caught the pass near the sideline, got around defensive back Reggie Austin and coasted into the end zone to make it 27-23. Brooks then ran in for two points.

"They left me one-on-one on the corner and I got past him and then I wasn't stopping. I kind of knew he was going to miss his tackle because he jumped way outside," Stallworth said.

"He was my man. He ran an out route and I missed the tackle," said Austin, who had an interception in his first career start. "I have to make that tackle. Nine times out of 10, I make that play."

The Bears drove to the Saint 18 when Miller threw to Marty Booker for a 19-yard gain and, after using his team's final timeout, passed to Dez White for 18 yards.

After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Miller threw into a crowd at the front of the end zone and Knight intercepted with two seconds remaining.

Trailing, 20-0, after a host of mistakes, the Saints quickly regrouped with the two touchdowns, the second coming after Chicago's Leon Johnson fumbled a kickoff.

"We came in at halftime down 20-14 and the guys knew we were going to win the game," New Orleans Coach Jim Haslett said.

The Saints took the lead with an 84-yard drive to start the second half. Brooks had a 24-yard completion to Jerome Pathon and capped the march with a five-yard pass play to Horn.

Paul Edinger's third field goal, a 25-yarder with 8:47 left, gave Chicago a 23-21 lead before Brooks led the Saints to the decisive touchdown on the seven-play, 73-yard drive.

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