Saints' 52-49 win over Giants produced notable numbers
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Eli Manning was at the center of one of the greatest quarterback duels the NFL has ever seen, yet even he had trouble keeping track of how many touchdown passes he and Drew Brees threw in all.
Manning initially mentioned afterward that there were 12 TD passes, then jokingly amended that to 13 when he recalled that one of Brees' passes ended up as a Giants defensive touchdown when Willie Snead fumbled moments after a reception.
He was still off.
An NFL record 13 offensive touchdown passes were thrown, seven by Brees and six by Manning, but it took Kai Forbath's 50-yard field goal as time ran out to decide New Orleans' dramatic 52-49 triumph on Sunday.
In any case, Manning was certain about one thing.
''It was just a wild one - a lot of touchdowns, a lot of offense,'' Manning said. ''I just wish we could have come out on top.''
The previous record of 12 TD passes in a game also involved the Saints - against the St. Louis Cardinals on Nov. 2, 1969, when New Orleans' Billy Kilmer and St. Louis' Charley Johnson each threw six in the Saints' 51-42 win.
Both Brees, who has spent his best decade of football in New Orleans, and Manning, who grew up there while his father, Archie starred for the Saints, both turned in career performances in the Superdome. Brees had a career-high and NFL-record-tying seven touchdown passes, while Manning a career-high six. Brees completed 40 of 50 passes for a career-high and Saints-record 511 yards and one interception. Manning finished 30 of 41 for 350 yards and no turnovers.
The teams combined for 1,030 yards of offense and 101 points, tying for the third-highest point total in NFL history.
Brees has now passed for five-plus TDs 10 times in his career, a new NFL high, one more than the nine by Eli Manning's older brother, Peyton.
Here are some other things we learned from a game that featured memorable outings by two of the most successful quarterbacks of their generation:
BOLD CALLS: The Saints have now won three straight, with each victory featuring a bold decision by coach Sean Payton. This time, it was a decision to keep the offense on the field on fourth-and-1 on the Saints 29 in the fourth quarter, down by a touchdown. With nearly 6 minutes and all three timeouts left, most coaches would have punted. But seeing how well both offenses were moving the ball, Payton called for Mark Ingram to dive over the pile and it extended the drive that produced C.J. Spiller's game-tying 9-yard touchdown catch with 36 seconds left. A week earlier, the Saints used a successful fake field goal to set up a touchdown, and the game before that, Payton called a pass play on fourth-and-goal that produced a short TD by tight end Ben Watson.
SUFFERING SPAGNUOLO: The Superdome remained a house of horrors for Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who in 2012 oversaw a Saints defense that gave up an NFL-record 7,042 yards. The Giants entered the game ranked 29th, giving up 401.7 yards per game. The Saints finished with 614 offensive yards.
VETERANS' DAY: While Brees, in his 15th season, and Manning, in his 12th, were turning in career outings, a couple other veterans of a decade or more looked pretty good, too. Receiver Marques Colston, now in his 10th season, had eight catches for 114 yards, including a 53-yard TD. Tight end Ben Watson, now in his 12th season, had nine catches for 147 yards and a TD.
HELLO, NEWMAN!: The Giants had two graduates of New Orleans' Isidore Newman High School playing professionally in their hometown - and both were spectacular. Manning attended Newman before Odell Beckham Jr. Now they're teammates in the pros and were as good as ever in their homecoming. Three of Manning's scoring strikes went to Beckham, including a 50-yard heave over two Saints defenders. Beckham finished with eight catches for a team-high 130 yards.
''It was great to come back here and come back home and play in the dome,'' Beckham said. ''It's just not fun losing.''
CRUCIAL KICKS: Forbath, who spent most of the previous three seasons with the Washington Redskins, has now made five game-winning kicks. His fifth, which earned him a game ball, was also his first field goal attempt since the Saints signed him before their previous win at Indianapolis.
On the flip side, Giants punter Brad Wing's game didn't end well. Marcus Murphy returned Wing's final punt across the 50 and fumbled, but Snead recovered for New Orleans while Wing was called for a facemask that moved the ball to the Giants 32 with 5 seconds left, setting up the winning field goal.
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