GAME RECAP (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
(GREEN BAY) - Drew Brees threw his 500th career touchdown pass but was more excited about another number. Four. Brees continued his mastery of the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints won their fourth staight game with a 26-17 victory on Sunday. "This goes to recruiting," Brees said. "You bring in the type of guys that are smart, tough, character guys that can see through the trees in the forest sometimes and understand the long-term vision and understand there will be bumps in the road. "There will be bits of adversity, but keep your eyes on the prize and focus on the process and know that good things will happen. Despite our 0-2 start, I think everybody believed it." Brees completed a barrage of short passes that added up to a 27-of-38 day for 331 yards. In seven career games against the Packers, Brees has exceeded 300 passing yards all seven times. Running back Mark Ingram II gained 105 of the Saints' 161 rushing yards as New Orleans (4-2) piled up 485 yards and weathered Brees' two early interceptions. Packers quarterback Brett Hundley, making his first start for injured Aaron Rodgers, was just 12 of 25 for 87 yards. Hundley didn't make any big mistakes -- his lone interception came with the Packers trailing by nine points in the final minutes -- but he also didn't make any big plays. "Our passing game, we can sit here and pick it apart all we want," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "Let's just blame it on the head coach today." The game turned midway through the fourth quarter. The Saints had just taken a 19-17 lead and then forced a three-and-out punt by bringing pressure on Hundley on third-and-9. New Orleans took over at its 45 and wasted no time putting the game away. Ingram blew through a huge hole on the right side for a gain of 23 yards on second down, with an additional 14 yards tacked on because of safety Kentrell Brice's horse-collar tackle. Brees' third-and-goal sneak from the 1 for a touchdown put the game away at 26-17 with 4:55 remaining. On the next possession, Hundley was intercepted by safety Kenny Vaccaro. "(I) got it under my belt," said Hundley, who could be the Packers' quarterback for the rest of the season with Rodgers recovering from a broken collarbone and on injured reserve. "Didn't win, obviously. We've got to be better, and we will, but we got the first one out of the way. "It didn't go the way we planned, and we've got to look at the film and make some adjustments." New Orleans scored on its opening two possessions of the second half to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 16-14 lead. Brees' pump fake freed up receiver Brandon Coleman for a 22-yard touchdown. Defensive tackle Kenny Clark blocked the extra-point attempt to keep the Packers in front by one. Including playoffs, it was touchdown pass No. 500 for Brees. "It's not really a time to reflect right now," Brees said. "We've got a lot of football ahead of us. Keep doing things the right way. Keep growing as a team, and all that stuff." The Saints took the lead on their next possession. A catch-and-run gain of 47 yards by receiver Ted Ginn Jr. on the first snap was the key play in setting up Wil Lutz's 28-yard field goal with 4:08 left in the third quarter. Green Bay recaptured the lead on the second play of the fourth quarter with Mason Crosby's 46-yard field goal. Rookie running back Aaron Jones' 21-yard run, during which he was stopped at the line of scrimmage but escaped to his right, was the key play. New Orleans retaliated on its next possession with Lutz's 44-yard field goal, making it 19-17 with 10:21 remaining. A 20-yard completion to receiver Michael Thomas and a 19-yard run by rookie Alvin Kamara put the Saints in scoring position. Jones finished with 131 rushing yards and a touchdown for Green Bay (4-3), which lost for the second consecutive week. The Packers led 14-7 at halftime and Saints head coach Sean Payton felt fortunate it wasn’t worse. "At halftime, you could have, against this team, easily have been down 14, 21 points," Payton said. "We were down seven and looking at each other like, 'Let’s go.' Those early takeaways, those are just percentages and numbers. It just becomes harder and harder. "I think our guys will continue to work and improve it, but overall it was a good team effort." Jones put the Packers on the board with a 46-yard touchdown run on the opening possession. He accounted for 70 of the 75 yards on the drive. The Saints' first two possessions ended with interceptions that spoiled scoring opportunities. The first came from the Packers' 20-yard line, with Brees' pass into the end zone intended for receiver Brandon Coleman grabbed by cornerback Damarious Randall. The second came from the Packers' 36. Brees went deep up the right sideline to Thomas, but cornerback Davon House was in perfect position for the theft. New Orleans scored early in the second quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run by Ingram. The Packers had only 10 defenders on the third-and-1 play. Green Bay answered on the ensuing possession. On third-and-4 from the Saints' 14, Hundley escaped to the left and had a clear path to the end zone. He dodged a hit by cornerback Ken Crawley at the 1 and got drilled by Vaccaro at the goal line.
NOTES: The Packers were without two starters, LG Lane Taylor (ankle) and S Morgan Burnett (hamstring). Saints RG Larry Warford missed the second half with an abdominal injury. ... Packers CB Damarious Randall has an interception in three consecutive games. ... Saints RB Mark Ingram II and QB Drew Brees did Lambeau Leaps beyond the end zone after touchdowns. ... Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr., with seven catches for 141 yards, had only his second game of more than 120 receiving yards. His first was vs. Buffalo while a member of the Dolphins in 2008.
                       NEW ORLEANS     GREEN BAY
First downs                     25            16
Rushes-yards                36-161        24-181
Net Passing yards              324            79
Passing (Att-Comp-Int)     38-27-2       25-12-1
Sacked-Yards Lost              1-7           1-8
Punts-Average               2-39.0        5-47.6
Fumbles                          0             0
Penalties-Yards               7-80          8-54
Time of Possession           36:56         23:04
NEW ORLEANS -  0   6  10  10   - 26
GREEN BAY   -  7   7  10   0   - 17
1st - GB - Aaron Jones, 46-yard run (Mason Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 7-0
2nd - NO - Mark Ingram, 12-yard run (Wil Lutz kick) TIED 7-7
2nd - GB - Brett Hundley, 14-yard run (Crosby kick) GREEN BAY 14-7
3rd - NO - Brandon Coleman, 22-yard pass from Drew Brees (Kick failed) GREEN BAY 14-13
3rd - NO - Lutz, 28-yard field goal NEW ORLEANS 16-14
4th - GB - Crosby, 46-yard field goal GREEN BAY 17-16
4th - NO - Lutz, 44-yard field goal NEW ORLEANS 19-17
4th - NO - Brees, 1-yard run (Lutz kick) NEW ORLEANS 26-17
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING
GREEN BAY - Aaron Jones 17-131 1 TD, Brett Hundley 3-44 1 TD, Ty Montgomery 4-6
NEW ORLEANS - Mark Ingram 22-105 1 TD, Alvin Kamata 9-57, Drew Brees 5-(-1)
PASSING
GREEN BAY - Brett Hundley 25-12-87 1 INT
NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees 38-27-331 1 TD 2 INT
RECEIVING
GREEN BAY - Aaron Jones 3-7, Martellus Bennett 2-17, Randall Cobb 2-15, Davante Adams 2-12, Geronimo Allison 1-14, Jordy Nelson 1-13, Ty Montgomery 1-9
NEW ORLEANS - Ted Ginn 7-141, Michael Thomas 7-82, Alvin Kamata 5-50, Mark Ingram 4-5, Brandon Coleman 2-31 1 TD, Coby Fleener 2-22

New Orleans holds Green Bay to three points in second half

GREEN BAY – The Saints controlled the game in the second half and ruined Packers QB Brett Hundley’s first NFL start in a 26-17 decision at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Leading 14-7 at halftime, the Packers were outscored 19-3 after intermission as Saints QB Drew Brees completed 27-of-38 for 331 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for an 84.4 passer rating. New Orleans RB Mark Ingram had 22 carries for 105 yards and a score. WR Ted Ginn led the Saints receivers with seven catches for 141 yards, and RB Alvin Kamara added 107 yards from scrimmage (57 rushing, 50 receiving). For the Packers, Hundley was 12-of-25 for 87 yards with an interception for a 39.9 rating. Rookie RB Aaron Jones rushed 17 times for 131 yards and a TD. With the loss, the Packers dropped into second place in the NFC North at 4-3, one game behind the 5-2 Vikings, who beat Baltimore. Green Bay now has its bye week and returns in Week 9 on Monday Night Football against division rival Detroit at Lambeau Field. Here's a recap of all the action.
First quarter: The Packers took an early 7-0 lead and got two interceptions on defense in the first quarter against the Saints. The Packers got on the board right away, and new QB Brett Hundley didn’t even need to complete a pass. Rookie RB Aaron Jones ran for 15 yards on the game’s first snap. An offside penalty turned a third-and-7 into third-and-2, and Jones took it for 6 yards around left end to move the chains. On the next snap, Jones burst through a huge hole up the middle and went 46 yards for a touchdown, putting the Packers up 7-0 just two minutes into the game. QB Drew Brees got the Saints moving with passes of 24 and 14 yards to rookie RB Alvin Kamara. Brees then converted on fourth-and-2 from the Green Bay 29 with a 5-yard pass to WR Michael Thomas. Three plays later, though, on third-and-6, Brees tried to go to the end zone to WR Brandon Coleman, and Packers CB Damarious Randall intercepted. It was Randall’s third interception in as many games, and just the third interception Brees has thrown this season. The Packers went three-and-out. After a pair of runs by Jones picked up 9, Hundley threw incomplete to WR Davante Adams on third-and-short, and Green Bay punted. Saints WR Ted Ginn called for a fair catch and muffed the ball, but it didn’t hit the ground and the Packers were called for fair-catch interference when they thought they had recovered a fumble. Two plays later, Brees went deep to Ginn for 40 yards, but two plays after that, Packers CB Davon House intercepted a deep ball for Thomas, and the Packers took over deep in their own territory. But the Packers went three-and-out again, failing on third-and-1 for the second straight drive. P Justin Vogel’s 41-yard punt put New Orleans on its own 47. A 6-yard pass to Ginn and a 12-yard run by Kamara closed out the quarter with the Saints on the Green Bay 35.
Second quarter: New quarterback Brett Hundley rushed for his first NFL touchdown, and the Packers entered halftime with a 14-7 lead over the Saints. Saints RB Mark Ingram started the second quarter with runs of 6 and 8 yards to the Green Bay 21. The on third-and-1 from the 12, Ingram ran off left end untouched for the touchdown, and the game was tied at 7. The Packers got moving on offense again as Jones ran for 5 yards and a first down. A 14-yard swing pass to WR Randall Cobb turned into a big play when a horse-collar penalty was tacked on. A 12-yard pass over the middle to TE Martellus Bennett made it first down on the New Orleans 20. Three plays later, Hundley scrambled around the left side for a 14-yard touchdown, and the Packers were back in front. The Saints got out to midfield on a 17-yard pass to TE Coby Fleener, but the drive stalled there as Brees went deep on third-and-2 to Thomas but overshot him. The Packers took over on their own 8-yard line and got out of the hole when Hundley scrambled for 22 yards on third down. A false start on first down helped kill the drive, though, and Vogel punted the Saints back to their own 20. After a sack by Nick Perry, the Saints faced third-and-17 and converted with a slip screen to Ginn on the left side. That put New Orleans on the 30 at the two-minute warning, but the Packers got the next third-down stop on a swing pass to Kamara, and the Saints punted. The Packers took over on their own 19 with 1:23 left in the half. With the Saints using their timeouts to try to get the ball back, Hundley converted on third-and-4 with a 14-yard pass to WR Geronimo Allison, but then Allison dropped the next pass on first down. A deep sideline throw to Bennett produced a defensive pass interference call on S Vonn Bell, putting Green Bay on the New Orleans 36. A defensive holding call gave the Packers another five yards, and just 18 seconds remained. TE Richard Rodgers was then called for offensive pass interference, pushing Green Bay back to the 41. K Mason Crosby missed a 59-yard field goal try, and one second was left on the clock, but the Saints tried a short pass rather than a Hail Mary.
Third quarter: The Saints scored twice in the third quarter to take a 16-14 lead over the Packers, who were driving as the fourth quarter began. The Saints started the second half with a 39-yard kickoff return by WR Tommylee Lewis out to the New Orleans 41. Passes of 13 and 21 yards to Thomas, the latter on third-and-9, moved the Saints into scoring range. Two plays later, Brees found WR Brandon Coleman for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Packers DT Kenny Clark blocked the PAT, though, so Green Bay still led, 14-13, with 11:24 left in the third. The Packers picked up one first down on WR Jordy Nelson’s first reception of the game, for 13 yards, but a sack by Saints DE Alex Okafor helped stall the next series. Okafor knocked the ball free, but Packers G Justin McCray recovered, and Green Bay punted. The Saints got moving again right away on a 47-yard catch and run by Ginn. A 9-yard pass to Coleman moved the chains again, and a 9-yard slant to Thomas converted on third-and-6 to put the ball on the Green Bay 13. Packers CB Davon House was down after the play and walked off under his own power, but came back into the game. An illegal block on first down pushed the Saints back to the 23. Two pass completions set up third-and-7 from the 10, and Brees fired incomplete to Thomas in the end zone. K Wil Lutz was good from 28 yards out, and the Saints took their first lead of the day, 16-14, with 4:08 left in the quarter. Hundley got the Packers going with an 8-yard read-option run for a first down. Jones had runs of 5 and 21 yards to get Green Bay across midfield. A swing pass to Cobb gained just one yard, and Cobb fumbled. But he recovered it himself, and the Saints were called for a personal foul for trying to pull a player off the pile. The quarter expired with the Packers facing third-and-10 from the New Orleans 28.
Fourth quarter: Hundley’s deep pass to Adams on the first play of the fourth quarter was incomplete, and Crosby was good from 46 yards out to put Green Bay back in front, 17-16. Brees hit Ginn for 9 yards and Thomas for 20 to get out near midfield. An 8-yard run by Ingram was followed by a 19-yard run by Kamara to the Green Bay 26. A tackle for loss by LB Clay Matthews set up third-and-10, and House broke up a pass for Lewis, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal. Lutz was good from 44 yards, and New Orleans went back on top, 19-17, with 10:21 left. The Packers couldn’t answer, going three-and-out from their own 10-yard line after a holding penalty on the kickoff return. Another Green Bay penalty on the punt gave the Saints the ball on their own 45. New Orleans wasted no time. On second down, Ingram burst through the line for a 24-yard run, and a horse-collar penalty on S Kentrell Brice made it first down on the Green Bay 13. A 7-yard run by Kamara and 3-yard pass to Ingram gave the Saints first-and-goal on the 2. Three plays later, Brees reached the ball out while leaping over the line for the touchdown, and Lutz’s extra point put the Saints up by two scores, 26-17, with 4:55 left. Hundley then tried to go deep on the ensuing third down, and his overthrown pass was picked off by a diving S Kenny Vaccaro, effectively ending the game.
NFC NORTH DIVISION STANDINGS - WEEK SEVEN
Minnesota    5   2   0   .714   146  119
GREEN BAY    4   3   0   .571   164  158
Detroit      3   3   0   .500   161  149
Chicago      3   4   0   .429   122  151
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
SUNDAY OCTOBER 22ND
CHICAGO 17, Carolina 3 - Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson picked off a pass and looked toward the end zone. The only person in his way was Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. "It's like when you're a punt return guy, they always tell you, 'Don't get tackled by the punter,'" Jackson said. "When you're a (defensive back) and catch an interception, 'Don’t get tackled by the quarterback.'" Jackson sidestepped Newton -- and raced straight into the NFL record book. He became the first player in league history to score two defensive touchdowns of at least 75 yards in the same game. Chicago made the takeaways stand in a 17-3 win over Carolina on Sunday afternoon at Soldier Field. Both of Jackson's touchdowns took place in the first half as he scored on a 75-yard fumble return and a 76-yard interception return. The outburst came in the sixth game for the rookie, who suffered a broken leg one year ago to the day as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide. "He's a tremendous young guy as well as a young player," Bears head coach John Fox said. "We saw it early on, we've got good, young guys on both sides of the ball. I think Eddie showed those things to the coaching staff and to his teammates early, and now you all get to see it." Big plays set the tone during a strange game in which Carolina (4-3) dominated nearly every offensive category but the score. The Panthers fell short despite posting a 20-5 advantage in first downs and a 293-153 edge in total yards. Newton (21 of 34, 211 yards) was intercepted twice in the loss. Carolina's three points marked its lowest scoring output since 2011. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky played it safe on the other side of the ball as he completed 4 of 7 passes for 107 yards. Chicago (3-4) had only two plays for more than 11 yards. "It happens like this sometimes," Panthers pass rusher Julius Peppers said. "That's why every game has its own personality. When you get into a game like this, you know how it's going to go, so you just have to try to find a way to make a play to make a difference. We didn't do that on defense. I think that was the difference in the game." Chicago opened the scoring on Jackson's fumble return during the game's first series. Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel could not corral a lateral from Newton, and Jackson scooped up the fumble and raced down the sideline. Given a split second to make a decision, Jackson opted to pick up the ball and run rather than pounce on it. "We're taught that if there's no one around you can scoop and score the ball," Jackson said. "That's a drill we go over in the secondary. I saw no one was there, and I just scooped it. All I saw was grass. I just kept running." Jackson struck again with the interception return in the second quarter to increase Chicago's lead to 14-0. Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara deflected a pass that was intended for Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, and Jackson grabbed the deflection and evaded Newton on a full sprint on his way to the end zone. "Simple slant route," said Benjamin, who failed to haul in the pass. "He stuck his hand in there and popped it up. I couldn't find it. Safety came and picked it. I've got to do a better job of finding that ball and knocking it down." The teams traded field goals late in the second quarter as Chicago built a 17-3 halftime lead. Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan picked off Newton with 7:07 remaining to spoil Carolina's comeback bid. "I thought our defense played lights out today," Bears tight end Zach Miller said. "Put points un the board for us, really took control of that game and got the victory for us. Can't say enough about them. We need to pick it up for our team on offense."
MINNESOTA 24, Baltimore 16 - The Baltimore Ravens' defense did its part, holding the Minnesota Vikings to just one touchdown on Sunday. But they couldn't contain Minnesota's kicking game. On a day that belonged to the kickers, Minnesota's offense did just enough to spur the Vikings to their third consecutive win, 24-16, over Baltimore. Kai Forbath kicked six field goals for the Vikings (5-2) while Baltimore (3-4) got a trio from Justin Tucker. It was the fourth loss in five games for the Ravens. It was a game dominated by defense on both sides as the teams combined for just two touchdowns, and the Vikings sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco five times. "I told the team all week that this was going to be a grind. I knew it was. I know how the AFC North teams play. I was in that division for six years," said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals before coming to Minnesota. "It was nice to see Latavius Murray get some runs against this stout defense and I thought we played pretty good defense most of the day." Murray, the Vikings' top running back, was the rare offensive standout, picking up 113 yards on the ground and scoring Minnesota's lone touchdown. Coupled with the Packers' home loss to New Orleans, the Vikings are alone atop the NFC North Division and face the winless Cleveland Browns next Sunday in London. Flacco finished 27-of-39 passing for 186 yards, and hit Chris Moore for a 13-yard touchdown on the final play of the game. It broke a streak of nearly 11 consecutive quarters without a Ravens touchdown. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum was 20 of 31 for 188 yards and an interception. "We knew it was going to be that kind of game, and we planned for that kind of game," Flacco said of the defensive struggle. "We went in here thinking they had a good defense and we had a good defense. We knew that both teams saw each other in a similar fashion and felt we were going to be the offense to break through and score a couple touchdowns and get ourselves ahead. It didn't turn out that The Vikings tried to go long on their first play of the game, but Keenum's pass intended for Laquon Treadwell was tipped and intercepted by cornerback Brandon Carr. It was the game's only turnover. The Ravens got a field goal on the ensuing drive to take a 3-0 lead, but lost wide receiver Mike Wallace for the game to a concussion. Wallace was hit hard after catching a pass across the middle, losing his helmet and fumbling in the process. The turnover was negated when the Vikings were flagged for unnecessary roughness on the play. In addition to pressuring Flacco, Minnesota's defense held Baltimore to just 64 yards rushing. "We came into the game wanting to stop the run first. If we were able to stop the run, then we're able to rush the passer," said Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter. "The main game plan was getting the tackles on (Flacco's) feet. We knew he would try and scramble, so once we got the tackles on his feet, he wouldn't throw the ball. That was part of the plan." Neither team found the end zone in the first half, with Minnesota up 9-6 at halftime via a trio of Forbath field goals, answered by two Tucker field goals for the Ravens. After settling for another field goal on their opening drive of the second half to go up 12-6, the Vikings finally broke through when Murray rumbled into the end zone from 29 yards out with 7:58 to play in the third. Forbath's extra-point attempt hit the right upright leaving it an 18-6 Minnesota lead. "The reality is what it is. We need to find a way to go do what we need to do," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. His team hosts Miami on Thursday night. "We didn't turn the ball over, which was a goal in this game and we thought that would give us a chance, but we didn't do enough of the other things we needed to do to win the game." Tucker hit a 47-yard field goal late in the third quarter, while Forbath added two more in the fourth.
Making his first NFL start, quarterback Brett Hundley runs for the end zone for a rushing touchdown in the first half (Jeff Hanisch Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)
NFC NORTH DIVISION STANDINGS - WEEK EIGHT
Minnesota    6   2   0   .750   179  135
GREEN BAY    4   3   0   .571   164  158
Detroit      3   4   0   .429   176  169
Chicago      3   5   0   .375   134  171
AROUND THE NFC NORTH
SUNDAY OCTOBER 29TH
Minnesota 33, Cleveland 16 (at London) - Case Keenum, starting again at quarterback in place of injured Sam Bradford, turned a slow start into 21 second-half points to help the Minnesota Vikings overpower the Cleveland Browns 33-16 on Sunday at Twickenham Stadium in London. The Vikings (6-2) have won four straight games -- three straight with Keenum starting in place of Bradford (knee). The Browns are 0-8 this season and 1-23 under head coach Hue Jackson. The lead changed five times after the Browns jumped ahead 6-0, and the Vikings did not take the lead for good until late in the third quarter. "We can't finish one, so that's sort of where we are," Jackson said. "We had our chances to make it happen. This team is giving me everything I ask. We're just coming up short. "I thought (quarterback DeShone Kizer) did some much better things, but we're chasing winning. We're not there, but I thought from his standpoint, he did some good things." Kizer, benched in each of his last two starts, did not turn the ball over for the first time this season. A fumble by running back Isaiah Crowell on the Browns' first possession of the third quarter opened the door for a 43-yard field goal by kicker Kai Forbath to give the Vikings a 15-13 edge. After missing a 35-yard field-goal attempt wide left, Browns rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez redeemed himself from 23 yards with 5:36 left in the third quarter to put the Browns back on top 16-15. The Vikings moved ahead to stay on a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard carry by running back Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon scored a two-point conversion for a 23-16 Minnesota lead. "We knew coming into the game it would be difficult to run the ball," McKinnon said. "They've stopped some good backs in the past. We have to keep pounding and grinding it out. We just look to get better and keep working and we'll be good." McKinnon carried the ball 14 times for 50 yards. Latavius Murray had 19 carries for 39 yards. Even when the running game struggled, the Vikings kept the Browns' defense honest by continuing to pound the ball. The final balance was 34 run plays and 44 pass plays, including one sack of Keenum. Aided by three defensive penalties on the Browns, the Vikings moved 84 yards in nine plays and finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Keenum to tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 30-16 advantage. "It was a fight," Keenum said. "We had to battle hard. We couldn't get things going early. I think it's a sign of a good team where collectively all three phases we fought through and we came out with a win." Keenum finished 27-of-43 passing for 288 yards two touchdowns and an interception. Both teams cashed in takeaways to get on the board in the first quarter. The Vikings took the opening kickoff and after one first down, a pass thrown by Keenum was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Browns defensive end Carl Nassib and intercepted by middle linebacker Joe Schobert. Two plays later, Crowell dashed 26 yards for his first rushing touchdown of the season. The extra-point attempt by Gonzalez bounced off the right upright. The Vikings were forced to punt the next time they had the ball but got the ball back when Browns punt returner Bryce Treggs muffed the punt at the Browns 20. The Vikings had to settle for a 35-yard field goal by Forbath after a roughness penalty set them back 15 yards. The Vikings surged to a 9-6 lead with 2:55 to play in the first half on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Keenum to Adam Thielen, who was wide open in the back right corner of the end zone. The point-after attempt by Forbath was blocked by defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. The Browns moved back ahead 13-9 on an 82-yard drive that ended on a 1-yard run by Kizer with 40 seconds left in the first quarter. They made it stand for their first halftime lead of the season, and Forbath kicked a 34-yard field goal on the final play of the half to make the score 13-12 at intermission. "You definitely have to find small wins and do whatever you can to try to develop individually and as a team," Kizer said of his personally improved performance. "But 0-8 is 0-8. If I throw six picks and get tossed on the ground 10 times and we win, the flight home is a much different flight." Kizer completed 18 of 34 passes for 179 yards. He was sacked three times.
NEW ORLEANS 20, Chicago 12 - Under head coach Sean Payton, the New Orleans Saints have built a reputation for winning primarily with a high-energy offense, but their vastly improved defense made several critical stops and covered up for fumble-prone Mark Ingram II on Sunday in holding off the Chicago Bears 20-12 for their first five-game winning streak since 2013. Ingram fumbled twice in the last 7:35, giving the Bears a chance to steal a game the Saints led 17-6 midway through the fourth quarter. Chicago (3-5) cut the deficit to 17-12 on Tarik Cohen's 1-yard dive with 3:58 left, but safety Marcus Williams broke up an end-zone pass by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on a 2-point conversion that would have cut the lead to three. After another Ingram fumble with 2:12 left -- a strip and recovery by strong safety Adrian Amos -- the Saints' defense held on fourth down, stopping Chicago on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 at its 39-yard line, forcing Trubisky into two incompletions. Wil Lutz gave the Saints some breathing room with a 49-yard field goal with 1:35 left, extending the New Orleans lead to 20-12. The Saints' defense then iced the game when rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore made a diving interception of a Trubisky pass with 71 seconds left. "I was whack, I sucked," said Ingram, whose solid 75-yard rushing performance on 18 carries was marred by his two late strip-fumbles. "The bottom line is I was terrible today. The only reason the game was close was because of me. But I'll bounce back." To understand how much the Saints (5-2) have improved on defense, consider this: They have turned the ball over seven times in their last three victories, and Sunday’s win marked the first time since 2009 that they have won without Brees throwing a touchdown pass. "We're playing really complementary football," said Brees, who took few chances against the aggressive Bears defense but still completed 23 of 28 passes for 299 yards. "Offensively, I felt we had good balance. It was closer than it needed to be with the two turnovers, but the defense came up with some huge stops." While Payton was thrilled with the Saints' five-game winning streak, he said he wasn't pleased with the sloppy play down the stretch. "We found a way to make it interesting," Payton said. "We're going to have to clean up those mistakes, because those are going to hurt us when we play better teams. "Fortunately, our defense did a great job creating turnovers, and we had a couple of other ball opportunities. It's significant to turn the ball over like we did. You really don't deserve to win games like that. You can't do it." The Saints appeared to be moving for the clinching score when Brees connected with Ted Ginn Jr. on a 53-yard pass to the Chicago 26, but Ingram was stripped again of the ball. "All in all, I thought it was a great effort by our football team," Chicago head coach John Fox said. "We had plenty of opportunities. We just came up a little short." Bears tight end Zach Miller suffered a serious dislocation of his left knee in the third quarter on what at first was ruled a 25-yard touchdown catch on third-and-10, which would have moved Chicago within 14-10. Miller came down awkwardly on his left leg and lay motionless on the ground, but officials ruled on the field that he had come down with the catch. After the review, referee Carl Cheffers reversed the touchdown call, saying Miller "went to the ground (and) temporarily lost control of the ball. The ball hit the ground; therefore, it is incomplete." The Bears settled for a 44-yard Connor Barth field goal and trailed 14-6 late in the third quarter. Miller was taken to a local hospital. He will be in our thoughts and prayers on the flight home," Fox said. "He is a fantastic person. He's a great teammate. He is loved in our locker room." Trubisky, making just his fourth NFL start, battled hard, completing 14 of 32 passes for 164 yards, and he showed his elusiveness on a 46-yard scamper on third-and-10 that set up Chicago's final score. "He's young and athletic and good on the move," Payton said. "I think he's got a bright future."
MONDAY OCTOBER 30TH
Pittsburgh 20, DETROIT 15 - Scoring touchdowns from close range seemed like a nearly impossible feat in the Pittsburgh-Detroit game on Sunday night. It took the longest pass play in Steelers history to decide it. Ben Roethlisberger connected with rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster on a 97-yard touchdown in the third quarter and the Steelers held off the Lions 20-15 at Ford Field. Smith-Schuster got behind cornerback Quandre Diggs on third down, caught Roethlisberger's pass at the Steelers' 28 and streaked to the end zone. That allowed Pittsburgh to take an eight-point lead. When Smith-Schuster faced similar coverage earlier in the game, he tried to juke his defender and make an out move before heading up the field. Roethlisberger offered some advice. "I told him, 'Look, next time you get that look, beat them with your speed,'" said Roethlisberger, who completed 17 of 31 passes for 317 yards. "That's what he did. I threw it over the top and I told him (afterward) I didn't know he had that much speed. He said he didn't, either." Smith-Schuster hauled in seven of Rothlisberger's passes for 193 yards. "A lot of people say he's young, he's immature, he's 20 years old," Smith-Schuster said. "But when I'm on the field playing with my boys, I'm getting the job done." Le'Veon Bell rushed for 76 yards on 25 carries, including a 5-yard touchdown, for the Steelers (6-2). A big play was needed because both teams struggled in the red zone. Pittsburgh was 1-for-3, while Detroit went 0-for-5. Matthew Stafford completed 27 of 45 passes for 423 yards for the Lions (3-4), but they couldn't score a touchdown. Detroit drove inside the Steelers' 10 on three second-half possessions, but came away with just a field goal. "It wasn't a lot of celebration," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the red-zone stops. "We appreciated those moments, but we knew probably we'd have to do it again." Matt Prater accounted for all of Detroit's points with five field goals. "We just didn't execute," Stafford said. "We were close on a lot of plays, whether I missed a throw by an inch or two or we didn't catch a ball, or whatever it is. It's obviously frustrating to get down there and not come away with points twice." The Lions had won their last five games after a bye week. "It's annoying because, I mean, we've got a good kicker, but we've got a good offense, too," running back Ameer Abdullah said. "We've got to score. We've got guys that can score. We've got guys who, if we put them in the right position, they can make big plays for us down there. We've just got to find a way to do that." Chris Boswell's 38-yard field goal, which banked off the right upright, put Pittsburgh on top 13-12 in the third quarter. The Lions drove down the field when they got the ball back, but stalled at the Steelers' 1. Stafford was dropped for a 1-yard loss by defensive lineman Tyson Alualu on fourth down. The Steelers' historic pass play made it 20-12. Prater's 19-yard field goal with 12:54 remaining pulled Detroit within five. Golden Tate fumbled away the ball after a 34-yard completion to end the Lions' next drive. Detroit got the ball back on its 15 with 4:55 left. Tight end Eric Ebron's 44-yard reception moved the Lions to the Pittsburgh 11. On fourth-and-7, Stafford was pressured and threw an incompletion. Smith-Schuster's final reception gave Pittsburgh a clinching first down. Prater kicked four first-half field goals to give the Lions a 12-10 halftime lead.
New Orleans Saints (4-2) 26, Green Bay Packers (4-3) 17
Sunday October 22nd 2017 (at Green Bay)