Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
NEW ORLEANS – The Saints have been searching for the big play on offense for nearly a year.
Sunday, in the New Orleans’ 30-13 win over Chicago, they finally found one.
Quarterback Drew Brees hit receiver Devery Henderson for a 79-yard touchdown in the second quarter, giving the Saints their first lead in a game this season.
Henderson outraced Bears safety Major Wright off the line, getting behind the next-to-last line of defense for Chicago. Brees’ pass was perfect, hitting Henderson full stride on the finger tips.
“They’ve got two deep safeties,” Brees said. “They’ve got a middle linebacker running through the hole. You just need time in order for Devery to gain ground, gain ground and then get through there. He did a great job of just trusting his landmark and getting to it. You try not to keep that ball in the air too long.”
The ball wasn’t in the air too long and Henderson did the rest.
He broke a shoestring tackle attempt by Wright, then went through Chicago’s other safety, Chris Conte, and eased his way down the field and into the end zone for the score.
“The most important thing for me was making the catch,” said Henderson, who finished with only three catches but 103 yards receiving. “As far as yards after, you make the catch first. Sean did a good job of calling that play at the right time. With the defense, we took advantage of it.”
New Orleans was in third-and-12 after Chicago’s Israel Idonije beat right tackle Zach Strief to Brees, sacking him for a six-yard loss on second down.
The call was gutsy considering the previous play and the length of time Brees needed to let Henderson get down the field.
“It’s one of those third-and-longs that kind of sits in your pocket as a call for if it comes up and it came up early,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Obviously we prefer not to be in that situation.”
Henderson went over 100 yards receiving for the second time in as many games. It’s his first time accomplishing that feat since 2006 and it was his ninth 100-yard game.
The 79-yard touchdown was New Orleans’ longest play from scrimmage in nearly one calendar year; Lance Moore’s 80-yard scoring reception against Atlanta last year came on Sept. 26 and was the longest play of that season.