EditorsNote: Removes second reference Michael in 4th graf, moves reference to 500th TD to 3rd graf
Drew Brees engineered two fourth-quarter touchdown drives and got the go-ahead score with a 5-yard slant to Michael Thomas, and Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker missed his first career extra point with 24 seconds left to allow the visiting New Orleans Saints to escape with a 24-23 victory over the Ravens Sunday.
The Saints (5-1) trailed Baltimore 17-7 with 3:30 left in the third quarter when Joe Flacco threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Andrews, capping a 10-play, 61-yard drive. Flacco was 6-for-8 for 68 yards on the drive.
But Brees, who had not beaten the Ravens (4-3) in four previous games in his 18 NFL seasons, brought the Saints back with consecutive touchdown drives. Brees completed 22 of 30 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including the 500th of his career.
The Saints cut the margin to 17-14 with 12:32 left on Alvin Kamara’s 2-yard run. Brees kept the 75-yard drive alive by escaping an almost certain sack on third down and firing a 9-yard pass to Thomas, and later hit Tre’Quan Smith for 26 yards to the Ravens’ 27.
After the Saints got the ball back at their 44, Brees took the Saints 56 yards in 12 plays to take a 21-17 lead. For the fifth time in the game, the Saints went for it on fourth down, and Brees picked it up with a leap over the line. Brees then found Thomas open on the slant against cornerback Jimmy Smith with 4:58 left.
The New Orleans defense stopped the Ravens on downs near midfield with 3:19 left, and the Saints added a 39-yard field goal by Wil Lutz with 2:15 left to widen the lead to 24-17.
Baltimore had one more chance and drove to the Saints’ 15 with 47 seconds left. Flacco hit John Brown for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 24-23 with 24 seconds remaining. But with just a PAT needed to force overtime, Tucker pushed the kick wide right.
The Ravens took a 10-7 lead just before halftime when reserve quarterback Lamar Jackson scored from 1 yard out on a read option up the middle. The big play on the drive was Flacco’s 56-yard crossing route to Brown, who was tackled at the Saints’ 2-yard line.
Brown had seven catches for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Brees had given the Saints a 7-3 lead with 1:53 left in the half with his 500th scoring pass — a 1-yard flip to wide-open tight end Benjamin Watson in the right corner of the end zone. Only Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady have also thrown for at least 500 touchdowns.
Baltimore took a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter on Tucker’s 31-yard field goal.
The Saints wasted a great scoring opportunity on the opening drive, converting three fourth-down plays to move inside the Ravens’ 10. But on fourth-and-goal from the 4, wildcat quarterback Taysom Hill’s pitch to Kamara was high, and Kamara juggled the ball over his head and fumbled at the Baltimore 6.
—Field Level Media