The Saints, after falling behind 20-3, rallied to defeat the visiting Chargers in overtime on "Monday Night Football," 30-27. After the Chargers missed a field goal as time expired in regulation, Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed five passes to set up Wil Lutz's game-winning, 36-yard field goal. New Orleans' defense then forced two straight incompletions before cornerback Marshon Lattimore stopped Chargers receiver Mike Williams just short of the first down marker on fourth down.
Brees' heroics were enough to defeat the Chargers and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who threw four touchdown passes, including two to Williams. Despite his performance, the Chargers have now lost four one-score games this year after losing nine such games in 2019.
The Chargers struck first when Herbert hit Keenan Allen on a 17-yard touchdown. The Chargers, who missed the extra point, received a 36-yard run on the drive by running back Justin Jackson. Allen, however, was unable to finish the game after sustaining a back injury in the first half. The Saints, following a sack by Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson, started their third possession on the Chargers' 48-yard-line. The short field helped set up the Saints' first score, a 48-yard field goal by Lutz.
Herbert quickly responded, as he connected with Williams for a four-yard touchdown four minutes into the second quarter. Herbert, following Nasir Adderley's interception of Drew Brees, then hit tight end Hunter Henry for a three-yard touchdown. The Saints were able to respond before halftime, as Brees scored New Orleans' first touchdown on a one-yard run. After the Saints kicked off the second half with another field goal, the Saints missed a golden opportunity to extend their lead when Herbert just missed an open Williams deep downfield on third down.
New Orleans quickly capitalized on its good fortune, as Brees tied the score on a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jared Cook with 11:21 left. Both teams exchanged punts before Herbert, on a 3rd-and-10 play, hit a wide open Williams for a 64-yard score. The Saints quickly tied the score, however, when Taysom Hill scored on a nine-yard run with 52 seconds left.
Instead of throwing deep, Herbert instead completed three short passes to Justin Jackson before connecting with Williams for a 39-yard gain. The Chargers, however, were forced to play overtime after Michael Badgley missed a 50-yard attempt as the clock expired. Brees then led the Saints to the game-winning score on the first drive of the extra period.
Here are some more takeaways from Monday's game:
Why the Saints won
They were incredibly resilient. From Drew Brees on down, New Orleans looked dead in the water not long before halftime, trailing 20-3 with an apparent inability to drive the ball down the field and/or rattle Chargers rookie QB Justin Herbert. But then their talent and veteran experience finally surfaced. Brees closed with some authority, hitting on both short and long throws down the stretch to lead the comeback. Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders stepped up with clutch catches, practically replacing the missing Michael Thomas. And the team's best defenders, from Cameron Jordan to Demario Davis to Marshon Lattimore, all rose to the occasion when it mattered most, with Jordan leading a front-four charge to disrupt Herbert early in the second half and both Davis and Lattimore standing their ground to thwart L.A.'s attempt at a walk-off win in overtime. It wasn't pretty, but Sean Payton will take it.
Why the Chargers lost
It certainly wasn't because of the man with the golden locks under center. Justin Herbert may have made a few rookie mistakes, enduring a stretch of second-half inaccuracy, but he was mostly spectacular in his first game as the Chargers' permanent starting QB. Herbert didn't just become the first rookie to throw four TDs on "Monday Night Football." He did it seamlessly with a live arm, good pocket presence and an impressive ability to read the Saints' defense. So why did his team come up short? You can assign a little bit of blame to the play-calling, which inexplicably opted for short runs rather than more Herbert gunslinging late in the contest. You can assign a little more to the secondary, which held its own for a while but blew several coverages, including Jared Cook's wide-open deep score. Michael Badgley's 50-yard field-goal miss at the end of regulation didn't help, either. All in all, it wasn't a bad performance from an undermanned L.A. team, but those little errors added up.
Had the Chargers held on, you could've looked all the way back to Brees' ugly interception as a total turning of the tides, as that seemed to confirm L.A.'s surprise early takeover. Since things went all the way to overtime, however, it's hard not to look at Badgley's FG try, which bounced right off the upright, as the play that ushered New Orleans right back into contention. The Saints then proceeded to collect the first OT possession, march down the field and take the ultimate lead on their own FG.
Play of the game
There were lots of special plays to behold on a night that saw Herbert air the ball out repeatedly, but none was quite as impressive as Alvin Kamara's leaping, toe-tapping grab along the sidelines, which set up the Saints' game-tying score in regulation's final two minutes:
The Saints (3-2) will rest up in Week 5 thanks to their bye, then return home for an Oct. 25 matchup with the rival Carolina Panthers (3-2), who are off to a surprisingly solid start under new coach Matt Rhule. The Chargers (1-4), meanwhile, will go back home for Week 5, when they host the New York Jets (0-4), who are coming off a 20-point loss at the hands of the Cardinals.