NEW ORLEANS — The Saints were about six inches away from being 2-3 but a Michael Badgley field goal try at the end of regulation plunked the upright, sending the game into overtime at 27 and giving the Saints another chance.
In the overtime, the Saints quickly drove the ball down the field with Brees hitting medium-length passes against a gassed Chargers team. But the Saints drive stalled and a field goal gave them a 30-27 lead but also gave the Chargers and rookie Justin Herbert another chance.
After LA got the ball they drove near midfield and on 4th and 7 with the Chargers needing about 15 yards for a chance to tie or win - Marshon Lattimore, who had been burned several times in coverage earlier in the game, made what may be the biggest tackle of the Saints season, holding Mike Williams a half a yard shy of a key first down at midfield.
“We’ve got to be better in all three phases" said head coach Sean Payton after the game. "I’m proud with how we fought back in the second half. We made enough plays to win the game."
"We're opportunistic," added Demario Davis, who was right there with Lattimore on the game winning stop.
Early in the game things did not look good for the home team.
A key penalty on a Chargers punt, several wide-open Chargers receivers and an interception by Drew Brees led to scores by Los Angeles as the Saints fell behind 20-3 in the second quarter.
Trailing 6-3, the Saints held the Chargers on a three and out after a sack by Cam Jordan and Trey Hendrickson, but on the punt, Dwayne Washington roughed the punter giving the Chargers a second life.
With that opportunity, Herbert hit Jalen Guyton for 49 yards burning Marshon Lattimore and then Mike Williams for a 4-yard score on Lattimore again to make it 13-3.
Two series later, Brees was picked off and the ball came back to the one-yard line where the Chargers scored to make it 20-3.
And while that was going on, the Saints offense was wheezing with the running game having problems against the stout Chargers defense and Brees being limited to dink and dunk passes.
“There’s always room for improvement," said Brees, who was 33 of 47 for 325 yards and a score. "We definitely want to start faster. In the first half, there were too many mistakes that get you beat. We shouldn’t have had to mount that comeback to get the win.”
Right before halftime though Brees found some life and the Saints began moving the ball. A couple of nice passes to Emmanuel Sanders, who had 12 catches for 122 yards. Brees capped the drive with the Brees leap from the half yard line, making it 20-10 at the half and setting up the end game heroics.
The Saints improved to 3-2 and they are part of a three-way tie atop the NFC South with Carolina and Tampa Bay.