NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Andy Dalton rebounded from one of the worst outings of his career with a composed and ruthlessly efficient effort on the road.
Completing 73 percent of his throws, Dalton had three touchdown passes, and the Cincinnati Bengals dropped the New Orleans Saints to a second straight loss, 27-10 on Sunday.
For Dalton, the game represented a dramatic reversal from a week ago, when he completed only 10 passes for 86 yards and had a passer rating of 2.0 in a 24-3 loss to Cleveland.
Against New Orleans (4-6), Dalton gave the Bengals (6-3-1) an early lead they never relinquished. He was 16 of 22 for 220 yards, did not throw an interception and finished with a passer rating of 143.9.
Two of Dalton’s touchdown passes went to tight end Jermaine Gresham. The other was a pinpoint 24-yard pass along the left sideline to A.J. Green, who had six catches for 127 yards.
Drew Brees passed for 255 yards, including a 9-yard TD to Kenny Stills on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Despite the loss, the Saints remained tied with Atlanta for first place in the NFC South after the Falcons defeated Carolina.
It was the Saints’ worst loss in the Superdome since a 34-13 defeat to Denver in 2004.
Until recently, the Saints were exceedingly difficult to beat in the Superdome, where New Orleans had not lost in more than a season before falling in overtime to San Francisco last Sunday.
A sizeable crowd tried to generate chaos-inducing noise when the Bengals’ offense was on the field, but Dalton looked unfazed and in control. He threw confidently from the pocket for much of the game, but also scrambled away from the pass rush when needed and completed passes on the run — and the Bengals converted nine of 13 third downs.
The Bengals were also balanced. In his first season out of LSU, Louisiana native Jeremy Hill carried 27 times for 152 yards. His 62-yard run set up a field goal at the end of the first half, giving the Bengals a 13-3 lead while frustrated fans began booing the Saints as they headed to the locker room.
The crowd briefly regained its energy early in the fourth quarter, sensing a chance for the Saints to get back in the game. Cincinnati had the ball and a 20-10 lead, but faced third-and-18 on its 12.
Dalton spotted Green in one-on-one coverage with Brian Dixon along the right sideline, hitting him in stride deep downfield for a 38-yard gain.
The play sustained a drive that culminated in Green’s TD, after which a number of fans started filing out.
Cincinnati’s defense entered the game looking beat up and missing starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee) and starting cornerback Terence Newman (knee).
Still, the unit held firm, stifling New Orleans for most of the game, holding Brees to his second-lowest yards passing total all season (292) while also ending Mark Ingram’s three-game streak of 100-yard rushing games. Ingram had 67 yards on 23 carries.
The Bengals also made a clutch defensive stand after the Saints had a first-and-goal on the 3 in the second quarter, breaking up a pass to Marques Colston and stuffing Ingram twice to set up fourth-and-goal from the 1.
The Saints tried to surprise Cincinnati with a quick snap and pass to fullback Erik Lorig in the right flat, but linebacker Rey Maualuga, playing through a sore hamstring, snuffed it out and dropped Lorig for a loss to end the 17-play drive.