CINCINNATI — Drew Brees isn't just a Super Bowl MVP. He's also a convincing actor with the game on the line.
Brees passed Archie Manning as the Saints' all-time leading passer Sunday, then rallied New Orleans to its fifth straight win, 34-30 over the Bengals, with a little impromptu at the line of scrimmage in the final minute.
Trailing by three, the Saints had fourth and 2 at the Cincinnati 7-yard line with 34 seconds left. A field goal would have set up overtime.
New Orleans called timeout and ran a gambit called "No-Brainer Freeze." The Saints line up as if they're going to snap it and try to draw the other team offside. If it doesn't work, they let the play clock run out, take the 5-yard penalty and send in the kicker.
"That's a very realistic situation for us," Brees said. "We're not going to snap it if we can get them to jump."
To the surprise of the 59,963 fans and both sidelines, that was exactly what happened.
"Drew Brees did a great job with the snap count and tried to create the illusion we were going for it, when really we're just going to let the time run out," coach Sean Payton said.
Lineman Pat Sims bought it, jumping across the line for a penalty that gave the shocked Saints a first down. Brees threw the winning 3-yard score to Marques Colston on the next play.
"What is that guy doing?" Saints defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis said. "You have to be smarter than that."
Brees' 42-yard pass to Robert Meachem moved the Saints into field-goal range and set the stage for the last-minute win.
For Cincinnati, it was another unbelievable ending in a season quickly becoming one of its worst. The defending AFC North champions have lost nine in a row for only the third time ever.
"I thought we had it," said Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, who had five catches for 96 yards during a second-half comeback.
Manning threw for 21,734 yards in 11 seasons. Brees, with 21,932, topped that mark in five years with the Saints.