"Credit Cleveland for coming in here with a really good plan and taking it to us," was Saints coach Sean Payton's take on the loss. "We did a lot of things well defensively, but there are enough mistakes here to go around. If we continue to mull around like we did today, we'll win some and lose some."
Browns defensive David Bowens, a 33-year-old, 12-year veteran, intercepted two Brees passes and returned them for touchdowns.
In the first quarter, the Browns' Josh Gribbs fielded a punt, ran several yards, then threw the ball across the field to Erice Wright, who ran down to the Saints 19 yard line for a 62-yard play. Cleveland kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead.
This was the third game this season where Brees had had a pass intercepted for a touchdown. Brees was 36-of-55 with 348 yards and the Saints managed just two touchdowns. They really miss their running game.
The Browns outbid the Saints in the offseason for Scott Fujita, who intercepted Brees in the first half, read the Saints' favorite underneath pass plays and disrupted timing. Fujita also sacked his old pal Brees. "I still have a lot of friends on the Saints, but we needed a win," said Fujita. "I received a good reception last night, and this is probably this last time I'll ever be in the Superdome."
Chris Ivory led Saints rushers with 48 yards on 15 carries, Marques Coltson led all receivers with season highs of 10 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown, Tight end Dave Thomas caught a short pass for the other Saints touchdown. Ladd Bett added eight receptions for 48 yards and Lance More chipped in with five catches for 43 yards.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins had a team-best nine tackles. Jon Vilma had five.
The Browns won this game by taking advantage of Brees' mistakes, winning the special teams battle, running the ball and throwing in some creative trick plays to get first downs.
The defending Super Bowl champs aren't exciting as last season and are getting too many drive-killing penalties.
"You can blame me and my coaching staff for this loss," said Payton.
But the truth is, if Brees doesn't play great, the Saints lose. He had a 65.8 passer rating on Sunday.
The Saints (4-3) return to the Superdome for a Sunday night game against the Steelers on Halloween.
It was the inaccurate throws that upset Brees most.
"Anytime you throw a pick you're going to be upset about it," said Brees. "Anytime you throw two, you're really upset. Three? You're really, really upset. Four? That's not...I don't have days like that."
This season Brees has 10 interceptions through seven games. Last season he had 11 interceptions in 15 games before the Super Bowl.
"I feel like I'm working through the progression, identifying what they're doing," said the quarterback. "I wouldn't say things are fooling me at all. I'm throwing the ball where it's supposed to be thrown, on time, when it's supposed to be there. And yet, sometimes it seems to bounce your way, sometimes they might just react a little bit faster. For whatever reason, I've had a couple of those games."
Though he was completing 70.6 per cent of his passes through the first six games, Brees had a three-interception game in a 20-10 loss to the Cardinals two weeks ago. In his past eight three games, he has eight interceptions.
Not even Brees understands how it's happening.
"In order to be a good quarterback you have to be able to anticipate and trust," said Brees, "There's times you're throwing a ball to a spot feeling like a guy's going to be there. And maybe he's not. Or maybe at times they're going to fool you. But four interceptions? That's hard to swallow."
"You can't be Superman every single play," said Saints wide receiver Lance Moore. "We just have to step up and make more plays for him and get this thing going."
The Saints don't win unless Superman has a very good day.
Don Banks, SI.com: "I'm starting to wonder who we can trust in this year's NFL? Clearly not the defending champion Saints (4-3) who lost by 13 points to a 13-point 1-5 Browns team that was a 13-point undergo entering the Superdome on Sunday. Sean Payton and Drew Brees said their team wouldn't suffer a Super Bowl hangover, but those words seem laughably hollow.
Who says you have to throw the ball to win in the NFL? Look at some of the mediocre quarterbacks' stat lines on Sunday: Colt McCoy (74 yards), Matt Cassel (193 yards), Donovan McNabb (200 yards), Josh Freeman (212 yards), Meanwhile the top three passers from the early games -- Carson Palmer (412 yards), Ryan Fitzpatrick (374 yards) and Drew Brees (356 yards) -- all lost. Goes to show you one of the many ways fantasy football doesn't resemble the real thing. So many big passing yards we're seeing this season are in desperation. While teams like the Browns, Chiefs and Redskins showed you can still win by grinding it out on the ground...
The Saints will host a Halloween costume contest on Sunday in Champions Square outside the Superdome prior to their game against the Steelers. Costume winners will win Saints prives, including Saints merchandise and pregame field passes. The contest begins at 3:30 p.m., but fans are encouraged to get to Champions Square no later than 3:15 to make sure they are entered in the contest. The costumes must be Saints related. Check back here for more details...
by Ed Staton