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Saints Make Another Great Impression

October 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — After a quiet five games, Joe Horn suddenly looked like the star player he was in 2004, with his shoulder-shaking end zone dances and game-changing catches.

He wasn't the only one dancing.

A packed crowd in the Louisiana Superdome watched the revamped New Orleans Saints pull out a legitimizing victory over one of the most feared teams in the NFL. Kept out of the end zone until Sunday, Horn caught touchdown passes of 14 and 48 yards, then John Carney made a 31-yard field goal as time expired for a 27-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I've got to keep doing a better job of getting him involved early on," Saints first-year Coach Sean Payton said of his veteran receiver, who finished with six catches for 110 yards. "He plays hard and has been fantastic. He is everything you want in a player. If he has two catches and we win he is happy.... I admire that about him."

New Orleans (5-1) enters its off week atop the NFC South. If anyone still doubts the surprising start of a team that went 3-13 last season, the Eagles (4-2), favored on the road coming in, can't be counted among the critics.

"It's a whole different team," said Eagles defensive end Darren Howard, who played for New Orleans last season. "They're doing it with a young set of guys who don't remember what happened in years past.... It's six games and they're 5-1. It's hard to say anything but they're legitimate."

Drew Brees continued his impressive start in New Orleans after off-season throwing-shoulder surgery. He completed 27 of 37 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns and was not sacked against a defense that has 23 this season.

"Before the game, Coach Payton looked that unit dead in the eye and said, 'No sacks today,' " Brees said of the offensive line. "That was a big challenge to them and they did an excellent job with it."

Brees led a 72-yard, 16-play winning drive that chewed up the final 8:26. Deuce McAllister, who missed much of the first half after tweaking his hamstring, made a key first-down run before the game-ending field goal.

Donovan McNabb, off to a hot start this season, was 19 for 32 for 247 yards and two touchdowns. But the Saints threw him off his rhythm intermittently, sacking him three times.

"We can take something positive out of this game," McNabb said. "They're a good team, well coached, and those guys did exactly what they had to do in order to swing the momentum."

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