Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints continued their strong season with an emphatic 29-24 win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, handing the Giants their third straight loss. As AP reported:

Drew Brees took a few triumphant strides toward the goal post with the ball in his hand and rose up for an imitation, Michael Jordan-style dunk over the crossbar.

He had to settle for a finger-roll instead.

It was one of the few times Brees came up short Monday night as the New Orleans Saints made everything look easy in a 49-24 victory over the slumping New York Giants, who have lost three straight.

“I was a little more tired than I thought I would be,” Brees said of his celebration, which came right after he finished an 8-yard scramble with a dive into the end zone. “I do apologize to MJ.”

Brees was prepared for a little ribbing from teammates and coaches, but they mainly complimented him after he passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to his scoring run.

“There’s that confidence that players around him have, and obviously we have in him,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Brees. “He made some fantastic throws tonight.”

Tight end Jimmy Graham had five catches for 84 yards, including touchdowns of 5 and 29 yards. Brees’ two other scoring strikes went to Lance Moore, who had five catches for 54 yards.

“Can’t say enough about our team. Our coaches, offense, defense — it was a great team win tonight in every aspect,” Brees said.

Brees threw for four touchdowns and ran for one more, continuing his streak of throwing for a touchdown in each of the past 38 games. Cindy Boren asked if the league-leading Packers should fear the surging Saints:

Brees passed for 363 yards (24 of 38) and four touchdowns to go with his rushing TD in the Saints’ 49-24 victory over the New York Giants. He leads NFL quarterbacks with 3,689 yards passing (with Brady second and Rodgers third) and is on pace to finish with 5,366 — which would obliterate Marino’s 1984 record of 5,084. In fact, he, Brady and Rodgers could all top 5,000 yards. Brees also has passed for at least one touchdown in 38 straight games, which is the second-longest streak in NFL history.

This is familiar terrain for Brees, who fell 15 yards short of Marino’s record in 2008. This year, he’s well ahead of that pace, but he he swears it isn’t really on his mind.

“I try not to give it much thought,” Brees told Nola.com’s Jeff Duncan last week. “We would love to have that record, but within the framework of winning games. I certainly try not to think about it. You just try to do whatever it takes to win and if that means we have to throw it three hundred plus yards a game or run it two hundred plus yards a game, we'll do whatever it takes and we'll see where the chips fall at the end of the season.”

The Saints are 8-3, with a three-game winning streak and a statement win over the Giants. They’re Mark Maske’s second-rated NFC team, No. 4 overall in his power rankings. They would seem to be the most likely NFC team to challenge the undefeated Green Bay Packers — which takes us back to what still might be the best game of the season. In the NFL opener Sept. 8, the Packers stopped the Saints with a goal-line stand on the final play of the game and won 42-34.

For the New York Giants, the three-game skid opens a one-game gap with division-leading Dallas with the added challenge of a looming game against the undefeated Packers to look forward to. As AP explained :

Eli Manning completed his first four passes and quickly marched the Giants inside the Saints 20, only to be intercepted in the end zone on his next throw.

The drive essentially was a microcosm of New York’s season, which started off strong but now is fizzling after a 49-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

“We can’t get down and we can’t get frustrated,” Manning said. “We have to figure out how to bounce back. ... These last five games are big and will determine our season.”

The Giants (6-5) started 6-2 and were on the verge of taking command of the NFC East, but a three-game skid has left them a game behind Dallas for the division lead. The latest defeat had players wondering if this was the beginning of their third late-season swoon in a row.

Defensive end Justin Tuck said it is “absolutely not possible” to avoid thinking about a potential collapse.

“I’m already thinking about it,” he said. “But it’s not going to stop how we prepare and how we try to go out and play.”

The Giants struggled on both sides of the ball and even on special teams, failing to execute a fake punt. New York’s defense was unable to sack Drew Brees and the Giants’ pass rush got even worse after Osi Umenyiora went out with an ankle sprain (team officials declined to say which ankle).

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