Sunday, Sep. 10 4:15pm ET
Doomed second half does Chargers in

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- After failing to win on the road for nearly two full seasons, the New Orleans Saints had the good fortune to be in San Diego when the Chargers self-destructed.

Jeff Blake's third touchdown pass of the game, an 8-yarder to Joe Horn with 47 seconds left, lifted the Saints to a 28-27 victory over San Diego on Sunday in the Chargers' home opener.

Saints' Jeff Blake threw for 259 yard and three touchdowns against the Chargers on Sunday.

Although they trailed by 11 points at halftime, the Saints snapped their 14-game road losing streak thanks to a flood of Chargers blunders.

Ryan Leaf threw his first touchdown pass in nearly two years but followed with two interceptions, the Chargers blew a fourth-down play deep in New Orleans territory and the normally tough defense imploded on the Saints' winning drive.

"Everyone felt like we were going to go down and score," Blake said. "Of course, it helps when they make mistakes. They made quite a few of them, which ended up hurting."

The Saints (1-1) moved 90 yards on 10 plays for the winning score, aided by a pass interference call against cornerback DeRon Jenkins and an unnecessary roughness call against safety Rodney Harrison for a hit on Andrew Glover. Horn was wide open on the TD play. The Chargers (0-2) had 12 players on the field, a penalty that naturally was declined. The conversion pass was incomplete.

Horn said the safety was playing inside so he broke off his route. "It was like going back to playing football in the backyard again," said Horn, who caught 12 passes for a career-high 116 yards. "Just running around and getting open."

Said first-year Saints coach Jim Haslett: "One team deserved to win today, and that was us."

Ricky Williams had a mixed performance in his first hometown appearance since high school. He was held to 50 yards on 24 carries, but scored on a 13-yard pass from Blake to pull the Saints to 24-19 late in the third quarter. Williams knocked over cornerback Darryll Lewis at the goal line and spiked the ball after scoring. Blake's conversion pass was incomplete.

This was a good comeback win for the Saints -- and the first career NFL head-coaching win for Jim Haslett.

The Saints refused to fold and just kept battling and finally got a touchdown late to win the game.

Chargers QB Ryan Leaf has said and done all the right things in the locker room. He's said and done all the right things off the field, but he still has to perform better on the field.

You can see in Leaf's play that he's rusty. He didn't play at all last year and didn't play that much as a rookie -- and it's definitely showing. He has the ability, but it may take him a while to feel comfortable in their offense.

For Saints QB Jeff Blake, this was a stong performance. He was erratic last week and in the preseason, but in this game, he was able to connect consistently.

If the Saints can get the passing game going together with the running of Ricky Williams, there may be some excitement this year in New Orleans.

Williams said scoring in front of his family and friends, and winning the game, "was one of my greatest highlights in football. Last week we were in the same position at the end of the game, but we definitely lacked confidence. This week we had all the confidence."

The Saints dropped their opener 14-10 to Detroit. They hadn't won on the road since beating Indianapolis 19-13 in overtime on Sept. 27, 1998.

Blake completed 33 of 46 passes for 259 yards, with two interceptions. He also threw a 6-yard TD pass to Horn in the first quarter.

The Chargers blew a 24-13 halftime lead.

"We showed some things that looked good, but way too many things went bad," coach Mike Riley said. "We just fell apart in the second half."

Leaf was intercepted twice in the second half, the first by Fred Weary to lead to Williams' touchdown and the second by Alex Molden to seal the Saints' victory with five seconds left. Leaf was sacked twice on San Diego's final drive and five times overall.

The Chargers also botched a halfback pass on fourth-and-1 from the Saints' 15 midway through the fourth quarter. Robert Chancey threw a terrible pass to tight end Freddie Jones, who was covered, and the Saints took over.

"We just decided to do it," Riley said. "We felt good about our scouting on it. Obviously, if it would have worked, it would have been a great play."

Leaf did throw his first touchdown pass since Oct. 25, 1998, a 20-yarder to Curtis Conway in the Chargers' 21-point third quarter. Rookie Ronney Jenkins turned a muff into an electrifying 93-yard kickoff return for another touchdown, also in the second quarter.

Leaf was 12-of-24 for 134 yards. He missed all of 1999 with a shoulder injury, and has opened this season with six turnovers. In his short career, he has just three touchdown passes to 20 interceptions, with five lost fumbles.

The Saints started their comeback with Williams' TD catch, followed by Doug Brien's third field goal of the game, a 31-yarder that made it 24-22 with 14:52 to play. John Carney then hit from 49 yards with 5:08 to go, his second of the game, to give the Chargers a five-point lead. Carney also kicked a 42-yarder.

Leaf also got drilled by linebacker Keith Mitchell while blocking on a reverse, suffering a slight concussion and leaving for one play. On his first play back, he threw a 19-yard pass to Freddie Jones to set up Robert Chancey's 3-yard scoring run that gave the Chargers a 10-7 lead.

Game notes
Carney's two field goals and three PATs gave him 1,004 career points, making him the first Chargers player pass the 1,000-point milestone. ... Chargers LB Orlando Ruff had an interception and a fumble recovering in just his second career start. ... Williams' TD catch was the first in his two-year career. ... Saints C Jerry Fontenot bruised an eye in the third quarter and didn't return. ... San Diego State alum La'Roi Glover sacked Leaf on consecutive plays on the Chargers' final drive.

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