Maybe the Browns should play the Super Bowl Champions more often.
For the third-straight season, the Browns have beaten the reigning Super Bowl Champions. In 2008, it was the New York Giants and then the Steelers the following season. A 30-17 win over the Saints on the road completed the trifecta.
David Bowens nearly outscored the Saints himself as he intercepted Drew Brees twice and returned two errant passes for touchdowns. He had a 30-yard score near the end of the first half and then sealed the win with a 64-yard return with 3:33 to play.
The Browns used creative big plays on special teams and on offense to trigger the win. The Browns had 150 yards on trick plays and all contributed in the win.
A 67-yard punt return from Eric Wright on a lateral from Josh Cribbs, a 68-yard rush by punter Reggie Hodges on a fake punt and a 13-yard pass from Peyton Hillis to Colt McCoy to keep a drive going all figured in the victory. Those plays set up three scores.
The Browns drew first blood on a 23-yard field goal by Phil Dawson with 10:25 to play in the first quarter. The score was set up by a creative special team's play as the defense stopped the Saints on their first possession, forcing a punt. Josh Cribbs fielded the punt and when the Saints converged on him, he threw across the field to Eric Wright, who rambled 69 yards to the Saints' 19. Colt McCoy hit Chansi Stuckey on first down for 13 yards, but the Browns stalled at the five and settled for the field goal. McCoy was just 5-of-10 for 35 yards in the first half.
The Browns scored again moments later as Hillis went over left tackle from the four to make it 10-0 with 6:48 to play in the first quarter. Cribbs had a 17-yard punt return to the 44. After an 8- and 6-yard run by Hillis to the Saints' 42, McCoy went deep for Cribbs down the sideline, but Malcomb Jenkins was called for pass interference at the four. Hillis scored on the next play.
Facing their biggest first half deficit this season, on the Saints' third possession, the Browns sacked Brees, but an unnecessary roughness penalty on Chris Gocong kept the drive going. The Saints moved to the Browns' 36 on an 11-yard pass to Lance Moore. A pass to tight end Jimmy Graham moved the ball to the 20. The Saints scored on a post pattern to Moore pass play, but off-setting penalties negated the score. On third and four, Brees hit Moore for a first down to the 14.
However, to start the second quarter, the Browns put pressure on Brees, who threw a pass right to former Saint Scott Fujita for the interception.
The Saints scored with 5:32 to play in the first half as Garrett Hartley kicked a 32-yard field goal. The Saints went 44 yards in 10 plays taking 4:21. Brees hit David Thomas for 14 yards to the Browns' 35 and another 14-yard pass to Moore moved the ball to the 20.
The Browns extended their lead to 13-3 with 2:18 on a 22-yard field goal by Dawson. The score was set up again by a big play on special teams as the Browns lined up to punt from their own 25, and Reggie Hodges took the snap and as the middle opened up , Hodges took off for not only the first down but 67 yards to the Saints' nine. However, the Browns were not able to get into the end zone and settled for Dawson's second field goal.
The Browns scored their fastest points with 1:49 to play in the first half as David Bowens took a ricochet off the foot of an offensive lineman and returned it 30 yards to make it 20-3.
The Saints made it 20-10 with 13:29 to play in the game as Brees hit David Thomas from 11 yards to cap an 89 yard drive. The Saints were going to kick a field goal to start the fourth quarter, but after the Browns challenged a call, the Saints challenged the spot and moved up five yards, allowing them to go for the first down on fourth down. They converted on a fourth down on a run by Christopher Ivory. The score was set up on a 29-yard pass from Brees to Robert Meacham to the Browns' 30 after an 11-yard pass to Colston. The Saints had the ball for 8:26 on the drive. It was the Saints' longest drive of the season.
Dawson kicked his third field goal of the game from 48 yards out with 5:55 to play to make it 23-10. The Browns held the ball for 7:34 as they moved from their own 19 in covering 64 yards on 13 plays. Hillis was the workhorse as he had runs of 9-, 12- and 12-yards. A big play was on third-and-6, when Hilllis took a handoff and threw a pass back to McCoy for a 13-yard gain and a first down.
The Saints were trying to come back and moved to the Browns' 33 when Brees threw his fourth interception and Bowens again was the recipient as he returned it 64 yards for the score and a 30-10 lead with 3:33 to play.
The Saints quickly moved down field and cut the Browns lead to 30-17 with 1:38 to play on a eight-yard touchdown pass from Brees to Colston.
D-Bow's Day: LB David Bowens intercepted two passes and returned both for touchdowns in the Browns 30-17 win. In his 12 NFL seasons, Bowens had one interception for a touchdown and doubled the feat in one game.
Colt's Return: QB Colt McCoy made his second start. After having a 5-of-10 for 35 yards in the first half, McCoy finished 9–of-16 for 74 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His longest pass was a 17-yard pass to TE Ben Watson. McCoy caught a 13-yard pass from RB Peyton Hillis to keep a drive going on third down. McCoy ran five times for minus five yards.
McCoy was playing against his boyhood idol, QB Drew Brees, who was 37-of-56 for 356 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.
Fujita Returns: Former Saint LB Scott Fujita sacked QB Drew Brees in the first quarter. The Browns had a second sack negated as they called unnecessary roughness on LB Chris Gocong for hitting Brees in the helmet. In the second quarter, Fujita intercepted Brees inside the 10 to stop a scoring drive. LB Marcus Benard picked up the Browns' third sack in the first half. Fujita led the Browns with 11 tackles.
Challenge Loss: The Browns challenged that WR Marques Colston fumbled the ball to end the third quarter, but the referee said the play was not allowed to be reviewed. The Saints then used the time to look and ended up winning a challenge that Colston was down five yards down field. That allowed them to go for a first down and after converting, they scored a touchdown. They were lined up to kick a field goal when the challenges started.
Peyton's Place: RB Peyton Hillis finished with 69 yards on 16 carries with one touchdown. He caught one pass and threw one pass for a 13-yard completion.
Hillis had some big carries in the fourth quarter as the Browns tried to take time off the clock. Hillis threw a pass for 13 yards to QB Colt McCoy on third-and-6 in the fourth quarter. Hillis had six carries for 26 yards and one pass for one yard in the first half.
Robo Sighting: WR Brian Robiskie caught a seven-yard pass in the second quarter and a 16-yard pass to open the third quarter. He finished with three receptions for 25 yards.
Self Implode: The Saints came out in the third quarter after stopping the Browns and moved from inside their own 15 to midfield, before offensive lineman Carl Nicks was called for holding and then was hit for a personal foul to put the Saints in a first-and-35 situation at their own 19. They had started the drive with back-to-back passes of 16- and 21- yards from QB Drew Brees to WR Marques Colston.
Go Figurs: WR/KR Yamon Figurs, who just joined the Browns, was active and used in a reverse, tripped for a loss.
Razzle Dazzle: On the Saints' first punt, WR Josh Cribbs fielded it and when the defenders surrounded him, he threw across field to DB Eric Wright, who caught it and ran 69 yards to the Saints' 19 before he was tripped up. The Browns kicked a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Razzle Dazzle II: On a routine punting situation from the Browns' 25, P Reggie Hodges took the snap and ran right up the middle untouched for 68 yards to the Saints' nine before being tackled. Hodges was the leading rusher with 68 yards.
Official Down: One of the sideline chain gang officials went down in the third quarter when he was hit by the Saints' Courtney Roby on a punt. There was stoppage of play for awhile as it appeared the official hit his head hard on the turf.