NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- 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 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
hit 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
New Orleans (5-1) enters its bye 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. Nor could many in the raucous,
sold-out Louisiana Superdome, which rained down earsplitting cheers
in support of New Orleans' defense and erupted in celebration as
Carney's winning kick left his foot clearly on target.
"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."
The Saints' leading receiver much of the past six seasons, Horn
was a non-factor for most of 2005 after pulling a hamstring. Now
healthy, the 34-year-old was off to a relatively slow start.
The talkative Horn also has not spoken to reporters for about
three weeks and did not meet with the media after Sunday's game
because of what team officials described as a family emergency.
Meanwhile, Drew Brees continued his impressive start in New
Orleans after offseason throwing-shoulder surgery. He completed 27
of 37 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns and did not take a
sack 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
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 torrid start this season, was 19-of-32
for 247 yards and two touchdowns. But the Saints threw him off his
rhythm intermittently, sacking him three times.
The Saints built a 17-3 lead on Horn's first touchdown and a
scoring pass from Brees to rookie Marques Colston set up by a
muffed punt return deep in Eagles territory.
"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."
The Saints also held Brian Westbrook to 72 yards rushing and
only 3 yards receiving.
Saints defensive lineman Hollis Thomas had six tackles and a
sack in his first game against the team with which he spent the
The Eagles needed only three plays to change the tone of the
game in the second half. McNabb found Reggie Brown wide open along
the left sideline, then Brown stopped and ran away from five
defenders back toward the far side for a 60-yard score.
Brown wound up with 121 yards receiving on six catches. And
another Brown reception for 17 yards on third-and-15 extended the
Eagles' next scoring drive, which ended with a 3-yard pass to L.J.
Smith to tie the game at 17 late in the third quarter.
The Eagles were back in scoring position three plays later.
Brees' pass to Colston was knocked out of the receiver's hand by
Juqua Thomas, and the ball landed in the arms of defensive lineman
Darwin Walker, who was tackled at the New Orleans 15.
On the next play, Brown scored on a reverse, with McNabb
However, the Saints responded quickly when Philadelphia's
coverage broke down on Brees' rollout and the quarterback found
Horn on a long pass to tie it at 24.
Horn's second touchdown reception gave him 48 with the
Saints, tying the franchise record of Eric Martin, who played in
New Orleans from 1985-93. ... Receiver Donte' Stallworth was listed
as inactive by the Eagles in his return to New Orleans since being
traded shortly before the regular season began. ... Brown's
touchdown catch was also his longest career reception.