x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Saints defend unbeaten record

The New Orleans Saints turned to their defence to hand the New York Jets a convincing 24-10 defeat in a clash of unbeaten NFL teams.

The New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele (92) recovers a New York Jets fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
The New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele (92) recovers a New York Jets fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

The New Orleans Saints used their defence to hand the New York Jets their first defeat of the NFL season on Sunday. Darren Sharper intercepted a pass then sprinted 99 yards for a touchdown while Remi Ayodele grabbed a fumble for another touchdown for the Saints (4-0), who took a 17-0 lead in the second quarter that they never relinquished, going on to win 24-10. "Those were outstanding and, quite obviously, very big plays," said the Saints' head coach, Sean Payton. "The defence was outstanding." Talking about Sharper, he added: "I think he's got a pretty good presence. He watches the eyes of the quarterback. He made a real good play on that." The physical play of the Saints also impressed Payton. "We won the turnover battle and that's generally a key to be in the win column," he said. Neither the Saints' Drew Brees nor the Jets' rookie Mark Sanchez threw a touchdown pass. "Give all the credit to our defence," said Brees, the Saints' veteran quarterback, who completed 20 of 32 passes for 190 yards. "We wanted to run the ball effectively, keep our defence on the sideline and manage the ball and not turn it over. We were balanced and did what we needed to do to win."

The reigning Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2), bounced back from successive defeats for a 38-28 home win over the San Diego Chargers (2-2). Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw 333 yards for two touchdowns as Pittsburgh raced into a 21-0 half-time lead. The second half belonged to the Chargers and their quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw three touchdown passes, while Jacob Hester scored on a 41-yard fumble return as San Diego stormed back into contention. The Steelers held on, though, with their running back Mewelde Moore passing to Heath Miller in the final quarter for his second touchdown of the night and Jeff Reed kicking an insurance field goal.

The defence-minded Denver Broncos (4-0) maintained their perfect start to the campaign with a 17-10 home victory over the Dallas Cowboys (2-2). Cornerback Champ Bailey secured the win with a second left when he knocked away the potential tying touchdown pass from Tony Romo. "Maybe they thought they could catch Champ sleeping," said teammate DJ Williams. "One of the top corners in the league, my last play, I wouldn't go toward him." Tom Brady and Randy Moss hooked up for their first touchdown pass of the season for the New England Patriots (2-2) as the Baltimore Ravens (3-1) failed on a fourth-down play to lose 27-21. The Ravens' Mark Clayton dropped a fourth-down pass from quarterback Joe Flacco inside the Patriots' 10-yard line with 28 seconds left.

"Flat out drop," Clayton said. "It was a perfect ball. Joe put it on the money. To not come up with it is tough. It cost us the game." A week after losing starting quarterback Chad Pennington for the season, the Miami Dolphins (1-3) secured their first win of the season by defeating the Buffalo Bills (1-3) 38-10. The St Louis Rams remain winless after their fourth consecutive loss, going down 35-0 to the San Francisco 49ers (3-1). Shayne Graham's 31-yard field goal at the end of overtime gave the Cincinnati Bengals (3-1) a 23-20 away win over the Cleveland Browns (0-4). David Garrard threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns as the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) dismantled the visiting Tennessee Titans (0-4) 37-17. Quarterback Peyton Manning led the Indianapolis Colts (4-0) to touchdowns on four of their first five drives as they beat the Seattle Seahawks (1-3) 34-17. Manning finished 31 of 41 for 353 yards, marking the first time in 12 NFL seasons he has topped 300 yards in four consecutive games. Peyton's brother Eli Manning, meanwhile, threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns as the New York Giants (4-0) overcame the Kansas City Chiefs (0-4) 27-16. The Detroit Lions (1-3), who snapped a 19-game losing streak last weekend, returned to form with a 48-24 loss to the Chicago Bears (3-1). Quarterback Jason Campbell made up for a pair of first-half interceptions with two second-half touchdowns as the Washington Redskins (2-2) beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4) 16-13. Steve Slaton scored two touchdowns and Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff for another as the Houston Texans (2-2) finally found their running game to beat the Oakland Raiders (1-3) 29-6. * With agencies