NEW ORLEANS - Drew Brees threw for 332 yards and five touchdowns, including two each to rookie receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Saints defense hounded quarterback Thad Lewis to defeat the Buffalo Bills 35-17 Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In improving their record to 6-1, the Saints, coming off a bye week, overcame a sluggish offensive start to score 21 unanswered points in a 13:28 span of the second and third quarters to take a 28-10 lead. Lewis had three first-half fumbles and an interception.
Stills burned the Bills deep with scoring catches of 69 and 42 yards. The first came in the second quarter on an out-and-up move that easily left linebacker Jerry Hughes in the dust, giving the Saints the lead for good, 14-10.
After Buffalo closed within 28-17 on a 1-yard run by Fred Jackson on the second play of the fourth quarter, Brees scrambled away from the pass rush of Mario Williams and saw Stills one-on-one in the end zone against cornerback Nickell Roby. Brees threw a dart that Stills grabbed in the right corner, putting New Orleans up 35-17 with 7:34 left.
Brees completed 26-of-34 passes for 332 yards, and he threw three first-half TDs - 15 yards to Lance Moore, 69 yard to Stills and 15 yards to Graham as the Saints took a 21-10 halftime lead. Buffalo actually was fortunate the deficit wasn't higher Saints kicker because Garrett Hartley missed field goals of 47 and 38 yards.
Lewis was under siege in the first half -- he had three fumbles, two of which the Saints recovered inside the Bills' 25-yard line. The Bills avoided spotting the Saints any points on Lewis' first turnover by getting a sack from Hughes and then tackling New Orleans running back Darren Sproles for a six-yard loss on a third-down swing pass.
Cam Jordan's blindside hit on Lewis two possessions later gave the Saints the ball at the Bills' 21, and Brees connected on the 15-yard seam route to Moore, who beat Roby to the inside for a 7-0 lead.
Buffalo battled back to take a 10-7 lead on a 13-yard pass from Lewis to Stevie Johnson and a 37-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter, who earlier had missed a 50-yard attempt to snap a streak of 15 consecutive field goals.
Brees overcame some early difficulties. He was called twice for pumping his head or hands to simulate the snap, and later in the half drew a delay of game.
But the Saints scored touchdowns on their final two possessions of the half, with drives covering 86 and 77 yards, to take the 21-10 halftime lead.
NOTES: The Saints failed to take advantage of great field position in the first half. Their average field position on the first four drives was the Buffalo 43, but the Saints converted that only to a 7-0 lead. ... Johnson, the No. 1 receiver for the Bills, went out twice after aggravating a hip injury, but returned to the game. ... Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins left late in the first half with a leg injury.