Rookie Drew Brees went from awful to outstanding, helping San Diego defeat St. Louis, 13-10, in overtime Saturday night in an exhibition game at San Diego.
Brees threw a game-tying touchdown pass with 3:05 left in regulation, then moved the Chargers into range for Wade Richey to kick a 22-yard field goal with 6:19 left in overtime.
St. Louis' Jeff Wilkins kicked what appeared to be a game-winning, 19-yard field goal as time expired, but Robert Holcombe was called for holding, negating the play and sending the game into overtime.
The Chargers won the coin toss and started from their 21. Brees once again moved the Chargers with efficiency, completing seven of nine passes for 77 yards. He hit Reggie Jones for six yards on a third and five from the 35, and Trevor Gaylor for 29 yards. Gaylor got to the three before Matt Bowen knocked the ball away, but it rolled out of bounds and the Chargers retained possession.
Three plays later, Richey had the winning kick.
It was the first time this exhibition season that the Rams have had their entire starting offense together. Running back Marshall Faulk, last year's NFL MVP and a former San Diego State standout, returned after a three-week layoff because of a bruised knee.
The lights also went out shortly before halftime at Qualcomm Stadium. A similar problem happened during a Padre game earlier this year.
Terrell Davis, slowed because of injuries since his 1998 MVP season, ran for 34 yards in 11 carries in his first game in nine months as Denver defeated New Orleans, 31-24, in the inaugural game at the Broncos' Invesco Field at Mile High.
Michael Lewis, who drove a beer truck to supplement his income as an Arena League player the last three years, had a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown for New Orleans. He had a 56-yard return against Dallas last week.
In other exhibition games:
Matt Hasselbeck, in his first game since signing a $24-million contract, led Seattle to three consecutive touchdown drives in the Seahawks' 28-18 victory at San Francisco. . . . DeMond Parker set up his winning four-yard touchdown run with a 54-yard scamper as Green Bay overcame a mistake-prone offense and four field goals by Olindo Mare and defeated Miami, 17-12, at Green Bay, Wis.
Chris Greisen and Tywan Mitchell connected on a 45-yard pass to set up Marcel Shipp's game-winning two-yard touchdown run with 1:01 left as Arizona defeated Chicago, 24-20, at Chicago. . . . Brad Johnson threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns and Keyshawn Johnson had his first receptions of the exhibition season in Tampa Bay's 20-3 victory over New England at Tampa, Fla.
Vinny Testaverde completed 12 of 17 passes for 148 yards in the first half and engineered an 81-yard first-quarter drive in 15 plays for the first touchdown given up by the New York Giants in three exhibition games as the New York Jets held on for a 17-14 victory at East Rutherford, N.Y. . . . Scott Mitchell was sacked for a safety and threw two interceptions that set up scores as Buffalo defeated Cincinnati, 20-10, at Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh opened its new $281-million Heinz Field with strong play from quarterbacks Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox in a 20-7 victory against Detroit. Steeler cornerback Chad Scott sprained his right medial collateral ligament and it was not immediately known how long he will be sidelined.
Carolina Coach George Seifert said Chris Weinke, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, will start Friday in the exhibition finale against Baltimore. . . . Quarterback Peyton Manning won't play in the Indianapolis Colts' final exhibition game because of a sprain in his right knee, but is expected to be ready for the opener Sept. 9. . . . Kansas City linebacker Mike Maslowski will miss four to six weeks after injuring his left knee.