Former Saint Fujita helps Browns stun his old team
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Scott Fujita spent the past four years as one of most popular athletes in the Big Easy.
"I still feel the love when I walk around the streets of New Orleans,'' said the veteran linebacker, who took time to reminisce in his old neighborhood the night before his new team, the Cleveland Browns, took on the Saints in the Louisiana Superdome.
Less than nine months after helping New Orleans win its first Super Bowl, Fujita played a starring role in the Saints' undoing during the Browns' stunning 30-17 thrashing of the defending champs on Sunday.
Fujita's sack of Drew Brees, which helped stall one drive, and his interception of Brees on the Cleveland 3, which thwarted a likely scoring chance, were only the beginning.
All game long, he monitored the Saints' sideline between plays, tracking substitution patterns, then signaling what he saw to Cleveland coaches and helping with pre-snap adjustments.
Afterward, Cleveland coach Eric Mangini gave Fujita a game ball.
"I tried to do my best early this week in practice to prepare our team for what we would face today, as it's no secret that I am familiar with the Saints,'' Fujita said. "It's one thing to plan the X's and O's, but it's another to come out and execute it. The way we did it was pretty impressive. ... I didn't think we'd shut them down like that.''
Desperately needing a victory, the Browns (2-5) won primarily with defense and special teams.
Linebacker David Bowens had two interceptions, returning both for scores. He scooped up his first pick-6 after a deflection off the back of guard Jahri Evans and scampered 30 yards for only the second TD of his 12-year career. His second TD came on a 64-yard interception return, which he punctuated with a clumsy somersault into the end zone.
Bowens joined Ken Norton (Oct. 22, 1995) and Derrick Johnson (Jan. 3, 2010) as the only linebackers since 1970 to return two interceptions for scores in one game.
"You don't dream of games like that,'' said the 33-year-old Bowens. "You don't ever think anything is going to happen like that. It's unbelievable.''
Brees, who was intercepted 11 times last season, had a league-leading 10 after throwing four against Cleveland, including one by Sheldon Brown at the end of the first half. The only other time Brees had four interceptions in a game was when New Orleans lost to Tennessee in September 2007.
"Whenever you throw a pick, you're going to be upset. ... Four interceptions are hard to swallow,'' Brees said. "I think we are all doing a little soul searching. We know how good we can be. Obviously, we aren't playing that way right now.''
Rookie Colt McCoy completed only 9 of 16 passes for 74 yards but got his first win as an NFL starter, in part because he took only one sack and did not turn the ball over. Peyton Hillis rushed for a 4-yard score for Cleveland's only offensive touchdown.
The Saints (4-3) never led and got no closer in the second half than 20-10 on Brees' 11-yard pass to David Thomas early in the fourth quarter.
While New Orleans outgained Cleveland 394 yards to 210, the desperate Browns used some razzle-dazzle to turn the game in their favor.
During a first-quarter punt return, Joshua Cribbs passed across the field to Eric Wright, who bolted up the sideline for 62 yards to the New Orleans 19, setting up Phil Dawson's 23-yard field goal.
Late in the half, punter Reggie Hodges shocked the Saints by darting through a huge hole up the middle for 68 yards to the Saints 9. It was the longest rush by a punter since 1970 and led to Dawson's 21-yard field goal.
Bowens' first TD made it 20-3 shortly before halftime, and the defending Super Bowl champs were booed as they went to the locker room.
By game's end, the barking of Browns fans, celebrating as if they were in Cleveland's Dog Pound, echoed throughout the dome.
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