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Browns ride defense in stunner over Saints

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Posted Oct. 24, 2010 @ 4:25 p.m. ET

By Brett Martel, AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A few days after Drew Brees welcomed a son named Bowen, his game was ruined by Cleveland linebacker David Bowens.

Bowens returned two of Brees' four interceptions for touchdowns and the Browns took a stunning 30-17 victory over the defending champion New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

Rookie Colt McCoy passed for only 74 yards but got his first win as an NFL starter - a desperately needed one for the struggling Browns (2-5). Peyton Hillis rushed for a 4-yard score for Cleveland's only offensive touchdown.

Scott Fujita and Sheldon Brown also had interceptions for Cleveland. Brees was sacked three times, once by Fujita, a defensive leader for the Saints last season.

The Saints (4-3) never led and got no closer in the second half than 20-10 on Brees' 11-yard pass to David Thomas early in the fourth quarter.

Brees, who was intercepted 11 times last season, has thrown 10 already. It was the first time Brees had four interceptions in a game since New Orleans lost to Tennessee in September 2007.

The Saints outgained Cleveland 394-211, but the Browns made all the big plays in building a 20-3 halftime lead that had the Superdome crowd booing the defending Super Bowl champions as they went to the locker room.

Cleveland produced a pair of field goals with trickery on special teams. First, Joshua Cribbs passed across the field early on his punt return to Eric Wright, who bolted up the sideline for 62 yards to the New Orleans 19. That set up Phil Dawson's 23-yard kick.

Late in the half, punter Reggie Hodges shocked the Saints by darting through a huge hole up the middle for 68 yards to the Saints 9. Soon after, Dawson hit from 21 yards.

Hillis' short scoring run was set up by a pass interference call against Malcolm Jenkins on a long attempt to Cribbs.

Bowens' first interception return made it 20-3 shortly before halftime.

Brees did not have to miss any work for the birth of his second son last Tuesday, which was a day off for the club. He still was not nearly as sharp as usual. He finished 37 of 56 for 356 yards and two touchdowns, the second score coming on a throw to Marques Colston in the final minutes when the game appeared out of reach.

McCoy was 9 of 16, but was sacked only once and was not intercepted. He also had a 13-yard reception on a halfback pass from Hillis, setting up Dawson's 48-yard field goal.

The NFL's recent crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits seemed to have minimal effect on this game. Cleveland linebacker Eric Barton was penalized for unnecessary roughness for hitting Brees' helmet during a sack, but both teams' defenses were in control for much of the game.

The worst injury during the game involved not a player but a member of the chain crew on the sideline.

Paramedics rushed to the aid of Al Nastaci after he was leveled by the Saints' Courtney Roby, who was sprinting down the sideline on punt coverage. Nastaci was given intravenous fluids, carted off the field and taken to a hospital for further evaluation. His condition was not immediately known.

Game stats

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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