HOF Marcus Allen's thoughtful words help motivate Saints
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Hall of Famer Marcus Allen met up with the New Orleans Saints during their Bay Area visit and offered some insight about handling business.
He also posed a question: Who was the oldest guy in the room?
Drew Brees, who is pushing 38, raised his hand.
''I've known Marcus for a long time, ever since I was a young player in this league, and I've been around him enough to know he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game at the running back position. He played longer than I think any running back's ever played, he played 16 years,'' Brees said. ''I got to raise my hand and say 16 years. That kind of matches him.''
You wouldn't know it the way Brees is throwing the ball with authority, confidence and precision at this stage of his decorated career.
He threw a pair of touchdown passes to Michael Thomas and another to Mark Ingram, who also ran for a career-best 75-yard score a week after being benched as the Saints beat the lowly San Francisco 49ers 41-23 on Sunday.
Not that the Saints necessarily needed any extra motivation for their first game at Levi's Stadium, yet Allen's words were appreciated nonetheless.
''He had great words for us,'' Brees said. ''A lot of it was talking about being a pro, how to conduct yourself and what this game's all about, the relationships and the opportunity to win and do it for each other.''
Brees got another example right within his own locker room: Tim Hightower made a point to offer some thoughtful words to Ingram, who bounced back from being benched last week after fumbling for a second straight game.
Ingram, replaced by Hightower during last Sunday's 25-20 win against Seattle, scored his second straight TD for the Saints on a career-long run to answer immediately after DuJuan Harris caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick. Ingram's run also was the second-longest in Saints history and he wound up with 158 yards rushing as San Francisco allowed an opposing 100-yard runner for the seventh straight game.
''To see him respond the way he did, I'm proud of him,'' Hightower said. ''That's not easy to do.''
The Saints (4-4) put up 571 yards of total offense to win for the fourth time in five games following an 0-3 start .
Brees went 28 of 39 for 323 yards in the Saints' first trip to San Francisco's home field since a 36-32 loss in the divisional playoffs after the 2011 season.
He appreciates how much everybody has been willing to do as New Orleans gets back on track, regardless of number of touches or role week to week.
Take Ingram and Hightower, who scored the Saints' first touchdown of the day on a 4-yard run and finished with 87 yards rushing.
''They motivate one another. There's a drive, they're as happy for the other guy as they are for anybody when something good happens,'' Brees said. ''They're there for each other. I think they understand the big picture, too, like man, we need both of you guys.''
Brees now has 449 career touchdown passes, leaving him one shy of becoming the third player to throw for 450 TDs. Peyton Manning (539) and Hall of Famer Brett Favre (508) are the others.
In addition, he has 55 career games passing for at least 300 yards while throwing three touchdown passes, most in NFL history. Also, he didn't have an interception Sunday, becoming the first player in league history with 30 career games recording 300 yards passing, three TDs and no interceptions.
In his third start back as San Francisco's No. 1 quarterback, Kaepernick had his best performance yet with 398 yards passing - second most of his career - and touchdown throws of 47 yards to DuJuan Harris and 65 yards to Vance McDonald. He also became the 15th player in franchise history to rush for 2,000 yards.
''Today was a step in the right direction,'' Kaepernick said.
But the Niners (1-7) lost their seventh straight game since shutting out the Rams to start the year.
It doesn't get any easier for the Saints. They will host Super Bowl champion Denver next week then have a short week to prepare for divisional opponent and Carolina.
''You've got to continue to find ways to win each and every week,'' Brees said.
The 49ers travel to Arizona next week to face the Cardinals for a second time after losing 33-21 at home on Oct. 6, then it's back to Levi's Stadium for another tough opponent in the New England Patriots on Nov. 20.
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