Drew Brees held up a small pendant he'd received from a nun.
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees held up a small pendant he'd received from a nun.
"Sister Mary, this one was for you," he said.
How fitting that the quarterback for a team called the Saints should pay such a tribute after one of the more memorable performances in club history.
Brees threw for four scores, Deuce McAllister set a Saints record with his 54th career touchdown and New Orleans thumped the Green Bay Packers 51-29 on Monday night.
It was an ideal homecoming for the Saints, who'd spent 43 days away from the Superdome for a trip to London, a bye and three road games.
"We knew we had to come out here and excite this crowd," said tight end Jeremy Shockey, who had five catches for 57 yards. "It was a hell of a show."
Brees dismantled a Packers secondary that came in ranked third in the NFL with 176.3 yards passing allowed per game. He was 20-of-26 for 323 yards and New Orleans tied a club record for points scored and touchdowns (seven) in a game. Two of Brees' touchdowns went to Lance Moore, one for 70 yards.
"It's a dream come true playing with him," said Moore, who had 115 yards. "All we have to do is run our routes. We don't have to worry about doing anything extraordinary."
Brees remained on pace to break Dan Marino's 1984 record of 5,084 yards passing in a season. He has 3,574 yards with five games remaining. He also has the Saints (6-5) feeling better about their hopes of rallying for a playoff spot now that they've won two games in a row for the first time all season.
"We're kind of in the middle of the pack, just like a lot of other teams," Brees said. "This is the time where a few of those teams start to separate themselves and we want to be one of those teams."
The Packers (5-6) dropped a game behind Minnesota and Chicago in the race for first place in the NFC North.
"We didn't slow them down at all tonight," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "Give credit to the Saints and the play of their quarterback. He was on fire coming into the game and we didn't cool him off any."
Aaron Rodgers' attempt to keep up with Brees' torrid passing resulted in three interceptions, two by Jason David and one by Kevin Kaesviharn. David returned his first pick to the 3, setting up McAllister's scoring run, which broke Dalton Hilliard's club record set in 1993.
The sellout crowd erupted after McAllister's score. The Saints' career rushing leader kept the ball as he trotted to the sideline, where he was hugged by Payton.
"I didn't want it to be anything out of the context of the game because I respect the game so much," McAllister said. "I wanted it to come in the natural flow."
Rodgers was 23-of-41 for 248 yards and touchdown passes of 7 yards to Greg Jennings and 4 yards to Ruvell Martin. Rodgers also ran for a 10-yard score. Ryan Grant rushed for 64 yards in the first half, but the Packers were forced to throw more as their deficit grew and Grant finished with 67 yards.
"After the first half we knew we had to throw," Rodgers said. "We tried to answer but we didn't. We let this one get away from us."
Leading 24-21 at the half, the Saints began to seize control with a long touchdown drive that ended with Brees' 16-yard strike to tight end Billy Miller. McAllister then went in from the 3 and Brees hit Marques Colston in stride down the sideline for his second 70-yard TD pass of the game. It was Colston's first score of the season after battling back from a thumb injury on opening day.
Pierre Thomas rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns, a 4-yarder in the first half and a 31-yard scamper in the fourth quarter that gave New Orleans a 51-29 lead. The Saints had scored 51 points twice before in their four-decade history and easily could have reached 52 if Payton had elected to kick the extra point. However, Payton called for a 2-point conversion that failed in an attempt to go up by 24 points.
The Packers scored first on a 1-yard touchdown leap by fullback John Kuhn, but that would be Green Bay's last lead. Moore's 70-yard score came on the Saints' next play, and New Orleans took the lead on Thomas' first TD run. Green Bay tied it at 14 and again at 21 before New Orleans took the lead for good shortly before halftime on Garrett Hartley's 30-yard field goal, set up by Courtney Roby's 62-yard kickoff return.
Kuhn's touchdown was his first as a rusher in his three-year career and on only his eighth carry. ... Moore has a touchdown catch in four straight games. ... Green Bay had won 10 of its last 15 road games coming in. ... Reggie Bush was a scratch, missing his fourth game. The Saints are 3-1 without him.