By Joe Kay, AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI(AP) — Drew Brees can act a little bit, too.
The Super Bowl MVP passed Archie Manning as the Saints' all-time leading passer Sunday, then rallied New Orleans to its fifth straight win, 34-30 over the Cincinnati Bengals, with some Oscar-worthy impromptu at the line of scrimmage in the final minute.
Down by three, the Saints (9-3) drove to a fourth-and-2 at the Cincinnati 7-yard line. They called a timeout, huddled on the sideline, then ran onto the field hoping to lure the self-destructive Bengals (2-10) into an offsides penalty. Brees moved around and lined up under center as the play clock ran down, acting as if he was going to take a snap.
The gambit worked. Lineman Pat Sims jumped, giving the Saints another play. Brees then threw a 3-yard touchdown pass - his second of the game - to Marques Colston with 31 seconds left, extending the Saints' late-season surge.
New Orleans has won six of seven with a high-powered offense finally finding its stride. The Saints have scored at least 30 points in each of the last four games, reminiscent of their Lombardi Trophy season last year.
For Cincinnati, it was another unbelievable ending in a season quickly becoming one of its worst. The defending AFC North champions have lost nine in a row for only the third time in franchise history.
The Bengals failed to sell out their second straight home game on a snowy, 30-degree afternoon. The bundled crowd of 59,963 booed until the fourth quarter, when Cedric Benson's two touchdown runs and newcomer Clint Stitser's 47-yard field goal gave Cincinnati its first lead, 30-27, with 4:25 left.
Plenty of time for Brees to pull one out, with the help of yet another Bengals blunder.
Manning threw for 21,734 yards in 11 seasons. Brees has topped it in five years with the Saints, leading them to their first title. On Sunday, he put together his 14th regular-season comeback.
Brees' 42-yard pass to Robert Meachem moved the Saints into field-goal range and set the stage for the last-minute, will-they-or-won't-they drama on fourth down that made Sims move too soon.
Brees finished 24 of 29 for 313 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also had a 52-yard touchdown pass to Meachem, who finished with three catches for 106 yards. Chris Ivory carried 15 times for 117 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a season-high 55-yard score.
The Bengals had their usual assortment of bungled plays. They dropped two passes in the first half and were penalized when an extra offensive lineman failed to report to the officials before a play. They also had a running-into-the-kicker penalty that set up a Saints field goal.
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.