Blasted off his feet as he threw, Steve McNair lay on his back for a moment, then propped up his head, grinning after another first-down pass.
In his return from a concussion and strained neck two weeks ago, McNair never shied away from contact, throwing accurately in the face of penetrating defenders or scrambling for key first downs.
By the time the New Orleans Saints figured out how to slow him down, McNair had run for one touchdown and thrown for two as the Baltimore Ravens ended a two-game losing streak with a 35-22 victory Sunday.
“Feeling confident and having the will to go out there and execute” got him off to the fast start, McNair said. “Our offense has been struggling and today was a good day.”
The Ravens’ defense also played well, accounting for two touchdowns on 12-yard interception returns by Louisiana natives Ronnie Prude and Dawan Landry.
They also knocked Reggie Bush out of the game in the fourth quarter. Bush went to the locker room favoring his left ankle, but later said he did not expect to miss a game.
Baltimore (5-2) became the first team to beat the Saints (5-2) in the Superdome this season and made it look easy. That included Coach Brian Billick, who took over the play-calling after firing offensive coordinator Jim Fassel after the Ravens’ last game two weeks ago.
“I particularly like the play calls of the two interceptions for touchdowns,” Billick joked. “Today was players knowing what it is they needed to do, having worked it properly in practice.”
Still, the play-calling wasn’t bad, and several Saints said the Ravens surprised them by how often and when they threw.
McNair completed 17 of 23 passes for 159 yards, which was more than enough with Ravens running back Jamal Lewis gaining 109 yards on 31 carries.
“He is running hard and physical and that’s the style running game we’re going to have,” Billick said. “It’s great to get him cranked up.”