News & Analysis

NFL Week 5 PFF ReFocused: New Orleans Saints 30, Los Angeles Chargers 27

The New Orleans Saints, for the second week in a row, marched back from a huge deficit to upend the rising Los Angeles Chargers and rookie starter Justin Herbert. After being down 20-3, Drew Brees started cooking and led the Saints to a 27-27 tie at the end of regulation. A Will Lutz field goal in the extra period proved to be the difference.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

Herbert showed off his live arm throughout the game with three deep completions on six attempts of over 20 yards downfield that picked up 142 yards and a touchdown. That accounted for 54% of his total passing yards. When the Chargers offensive line could keep the Oregon alumni clean, he could move the ball through the air. He went 17 for 20 with 233 yards and three touchdowns without an interception when kept clean, but issues arose when he was under pressure. A total of 17 pressured dropbacks led to only three completions and three sacks, but he did hit Mike Williams for a huge completion late in the fourth quarter that could have easily won the game before Michael Badgley missed his second kick of the contest that pushed the game to overtime. 

Brees threw for 325 yards in the comeback victory, but his shaky play early led the Saints into the deep hole. At halftime, Brees was only 12 of 22 for 93 yards and interception, as the Saints rallied late in the first half for a last-minute touchdown to cut the Chargers lead to 20-10. After the break, Brees was up to his old tricks. In the second half and overtime, he would complete 84% of his passes for 9.3 yards per attempt. His top target was Emmanuel Sanders, who had his first big game as a New Orleans Saint. He caught 12 of his 13 targets for 122 yards.

ROOKIE WATCH

For the Saints, rookie guard Cesar Ruiz played 64 of their 76 offensive snaps, replacing guard Nick Easton in the first half. Tennessee Volunteer rookie Marquez Callaway saw 52 snaps and caught four of his six targets but, most importantly, was a weapon as a return man on special teams. On defense, Zach Baun played sparingly. He totaled 12 snaps and had two tackles.

Chargers rookie Kenneth Murray might have had his best game in his young career. Across his 76 snaps he had five tackles and was targeted four times in coverage while giving up three catches but for only 15 yards, and he had a pass breakup. Joshua Kelley platooned Justin Jackson at running back and carried the ball 11 times for 29 yards and had two forced missed tackles. He also caught a nine-yard pass on his only target. Receiver K.J. Hill played 26 receiving snaps and caught an eight-yard pass.

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