Work in Sports
Leaf continued to struggle at the helm of the Chargers, who are off to their first 0-2 start since 1992. The second overall pick in the 1998 draft completed 12-of-24 passes for 134 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Blake put New Orleans (1-1) in front with 47 seconds remaining, hitting Horn from eight yards for his third touchdown of the game. Rookie Ronney Jenkins brought the ensuing kickoff back into Saints territory, but the return was wiped out by offsetting penalties.
Leaf took over at his own 26-yard line with 33 seconds left but threw an incompletion and was sacked twice by tackle La'Roi Glover, who played collegiately on the same field after attending San Diego State. On 4th-and-22, Leaf was intercepted by cornerback Alex Molden.
Afterwards, the Chargers disclosed that Leaf suffered a concussion. Receiver Jeff Graham, who had three catches for 46 yards, left with a hamstring injury.
"It's very frustrating to lose a game, period," Leaf said. "When you're at home and you have the opportunity to win the ballgame, you want to win. I just have to prepare. We're going into hostile territory next week."
The Saints' offense failed to score a touchdown in last week's opener against Detroit. But Blake completed 8-of-9 passes on the winning drive, which was aided by two Chargers' penalties. He marched New Orleans 90 yards on 10 plays, finding Horn wide-open in the right corner of the end zone.
Horn, who signed as a free agent after four seasons in Kansas City, enjoyed a career day with 12 catches for 116 yards.
Blake finished 33-of-46 for 259 yards, helping New Orleans snap a 14-game road losing streak that dated to a 19-13 overtime triumph at Indianapolis on September 27, 1998.
"Our guys deserve to win," said Saints coach Jim Haslett, who recorded his first NFL victory. "They worked very hard all week and they fought more than any team I've been around today. We came in trying to play physical and smart. We did play physical at times, but we weren't very smart at times.
"We are not quite where we want to be right now. Part of this league is believing you are going to win, and I think our guys truly believed that would be the case."
The Chargers used a big second quarter to take a 24-13 halftime lead. Robert Chancey scored on a three-yard run on the second play of the period to put San Diego ahead, 10-7.
Blake was intercepted by Darryll Lewis on New Orleans' next possession, then fumbled at midfield. Leaf cashed in, hitting Curtis Conway from 20 yards midway through the quarter for his first touchdown pass since October 25, 1998.
New Orleans' Doug Brien booted a 20-yard field goal, but Jenkins returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. He bobbled the ball before breaking two tackles and racing for the end zone for San Diego's first TD on a kick return since 1997.
Brien kicked another 20-yarder to get the Saints within 11 points at halftime.
Former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams caught his first NFL touchdown pass, a 13-yard toss from Blake in the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed, leaving New Orleans behind, 24-19.
A San Diego native, Williams carried 24 times for 50 yards and caught four passes for 27.
Brien kicked a 31-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter and the Saints caught a break when Chargers coach Mike Riley passed up a 33-yard field goal attempt and went for it on 4th-and-1 at the New Orleans 15. A halfback option pass by Chancey was incomplete.
"We just decided to do it," Riley said. "Obviously, if it had worked -- we felt good about our scouting of it -- it would have been a great play. And as it turned out, it wasn't. It hurt us."
After forcing the Saints to punt, San Diego got back on the board on a 49-yard field goal by John Carney. That set the stage for the heroics of Blake and Horn.
"We lost an edge there (in the second half), we lost an edge of execution," added Riley. "We made a play coming out on our first drive. Then we just didn't hit anything after that. We were not in sync and then couldn't follow up anything. ... Our passing game disintegrated totally in the second half."