Saints stay sharp with rout of Raiders

Drew Brees tossed three touchdown passes and the New Orleans Saints stayed red-hot, easily defeating the Oakland Raiders, 38-17, to reach the .500 mark for the first time all season.

After losing their first four games, the Saints (5-5) have reeled off three straight victories and have won five of six to get back into the NFC playoff race.

"At 0-4, they stuck together and continued to work hard," said Saints coach Joe Vitt. "They didn't point fingers. It's paying dividends now"

Brees threw for 219 yards on 20-of-27 efficiency and connected twice with Lance Moore for touchdowns.

Jimmy Graham caught a team-high six passes for 29 yards and a score, while Mark Ingram rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown for the Saints, who will host San Francisco next week.

Carson Palmer completed 22-of-40 throws for 312 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but threw two interceptions for the Raiders (3-7), who dropped their third straight game.

"We have to continue to develop. We got to continue to go to work and keep trying to get better each day. That's all I know how to do," Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said.

Marcel Reece rushed for a game-high 103 yards on 19 carries, while also catching four passes for 90 yards in the setback.

The Saints got rolling early and scored on their first possession, as Brees capped the 10-play, 80-yard drive with a 1-yard TD pass to Graham.

The Raiders did very little with their first two touches and on their third, Palmer was picked off by Malcolm Jenkins, who returned it 55 yards for a score to help increase New Orleans' advantage to 14-0.

Using 17 plays, Palmer pushed the ball down the field to drive the Raiders to the New Orleans seven, but again was intercepted, this time in the end zone by Roman Harper with 10:07 to play in the second quarter.

Oakland finally got on the board after Reece took a short pass from Palmer 56 yards to the Saints' 20-yard line. Two plays later, Palmer rolled to his right and snuck a 1-yard touchdown pass into the hands of Brandon Myers to bring the Raiders within 14-7.

However, the Saints answered back with a score of their own, driving 90 yards to regain their two-touchdown advantage before halftime. Faced with 3rd- and-13, Brees launched a deep pass for a streaking Moore, who hauled it in for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 21-7 with 48 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Following a 75-yard return by Travaris Cadet to begin the second half, the Saints began to break it open. Mark Ingram then took a handoff around the left end for a 27-yard score to give New Orleans a 28-7 lead.

On Oakland's first touch of the third quarter, Sebastian Janikowski hit the upright before his 40-yard kick bounced through to bring the Raiders within 18, but Brees responded for the Saints, as he and Moore hooked up for the second time, finding him in the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score and a 35-10 lead with 3:26 to go in the period.

The Raiders turned the ball over on downs on the first play of the fourth quarter after Reece was stuffed for no gain on 4th-and-1.

The Saints then drove 31 yards down the field, setting up Garrett Hartley for a 47-yard field to give the Saints a commanding 28-point edge.

Palmer threw a 3-yard TD pass to Juron Criner to make it a 38-17 game with four minutes left to play.

Game Notes

Brees has never lost to the Raiders, improving his record against them to 7-0 ... Marques Colston hauled in four passes for 69 yards for the Saints in the win.