In his return to San Diego, Drew Brees and the Saints were about to come up short.
That’s before the defense produced two big 4th quarter turnovers that Brees and the Saints turned into touchdowns in a 35-34 win over the Chargers. The Saints won their first game of the season, avoiding an 0-4 start heading into the bye week.
Brees, who was drafted by the Chargers in 2001, and departed after the 2005 season, threw a five yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas on fourth and two with 4:50 to play in the game. The touchdown came after Darryl Tapp recovered a Melvin Gordon fumble at the San Diego 13.
On the next Chargers possession, wide receiver Travis Benjamin fumbled after making a reception. Saints linebacker Nate Stupar recovered at the San Diego 31. Fullback John Kuhn then scored from a yard out to give the Saints the lead.
It was Kuhn’s third touchdown of the game.
“I was excited how our players hung in there, and competed,” said Payton. “It was a good win.”
Brees completed 23 of 36 passes for 207 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was 28 of 43 for 321 yards and two touchdown passes.
Brees is now 3-0 against his former team. The Saints defeated the Chargers in London in 2008, and at the Superdome in 2012.