Halfway through the season, the Saints defense finally showed up in a 28-13 win against Philadelphia on Monday night at the Superdome in New Orleans.

Although New Orleans (3-5, 1-1 NFC South) extended an NFL record by giving up 400 or more yards for the eighth consecutive game, it sacked Philadelphia’s Michael Vick seven times, scored on a 99-yard interception return and held the Eagles (3-5, 1-0 NFC East) to 11 fewer points than any other Saints' opponent this year.

Philadelphia rushed for more than 150 yards in the first half and still trailed 21-3 at the break. The problem for the Eagles, as usual, was sacks and turnovers. New Orleans registered sacks on three consecutive plays in the first half, and both of Philadelphia’s turnovers came after the Eagles had first-and-goal.

The Saints also rediscovered their ground game after entering as the NFL’s worst rushing team. Despite playing without the injured Darren Sproles (broken left hand), they rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries, and Drew Brees threw a pair of TD passes to extend his league-record streak to 51 games with at least one scoring toss.

When the game turned: The Eagles were gashing the Saints in the first quarter and had a first-and-goal at the 6 when an errant Vick pass bounced off the hand of tight end Brent Celek and into the hands of cornerback Patrick Robinson, who returned it 99 yards for a touchdown as New Orleans went ahead 7-0. The Saints were in control the rest of the way despite a few anxious moments after Philadelphia pulled within 21-13 in the third quarter.

Highlight moments: Robinson’s 99-yard interception return, which tied a franchise record and featured a near skirmish when Vick blocked safety Roman Harper low after realizing he had no chance to catch Robinson. … Vick connected with DeSean Jackson for a 77-yard scoring pass in the third quarter. The Saints let RB LeSean McCoy run down the sideline uncovered, and he juked Robinson before cruising into the end zone.

Hidden player trick: The Eagles thought they had scored on an amazing trick play after the Saints went up 28-13 in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Riley Cooper laid down in the end zone while the ball was in the air, then got up, caught an across-the-field pass from Brandon Boykin and ran 94 yards for a TD, untouched. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Boykin’s “lateral” went more than a yard forward, drawing a flag.

(Courtesy of  AnExecutiveNightmare)

Top-shelf performances:

  • Brees -- 21 of 27 for 239 yards, 2 TDs and zero interceptions

  • Saints DE Cameron Jordan -- 6 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 hurries, 1 forced fumble

  • Eagles RB McCoy -- 19 carries, 119 yards, including 13 for 101 in the first half

  • Jackson -- 3 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD

Welcome back: RB Chris Ivory, who led New Orleans in rushing in 2010, was a healthy scratch for five of the first seven games and did not play in the two he was active. He ran for nine yards on his first carry against Philadelphia and scored from 22 yards out on his second attempt, sparking the Saints’ resurgent ground game.

What they said:

Brees on the performance by the defense:

  • “We hold teams to 13 points, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Ivory on finally getting a chance:

  • “I just wanted to make something happen, and everything fell into place.”

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid on the Eagles’ struggles:

  • “When you are 0-5 in the red zone, you have seven sacks and your tackling is terrible, you are going to struggle to win games in this league. We obviously have to do a better job, and that starts with me.”

Saints coach Joe Vitt on Robinson’s interception:

  • “That was a 14-point swing -- the seven we got to the seven they didn’t. We work awful hard in the red zone and coaches prepare our players to play well in the red zone.”

Numbers you should know: The Saints have won eight Monday night games in a row, an NFL high. … The Eagles have lost four in a row for the second year in a row, another reason Reid is on the hot seat. … The Eagles were outscored 7-6 the four times they had first-and-goal. They gave up the pick-6 to Robinson, settled for two field goals and lost the ball on a fumble... Vick's seven sacks tied a career high, equaling a game when he was with Atlanta against the New York Giants in 2006.

Injury updates: The Saints lost OT Zach Strief to a groin injury in the third quarter. Charles Brown replaced him. … Saints DE Junior Galette limped off with an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. … Eagles OT Todd Herremans left in the first quarter with an ankle tendon strain and did not return.

Going forward: The Saints face undefeated Atlanta at the Superdome. Win that one, and it will be possible for them to recover from a dismal 2-5 start. Lose it, and the odds will be infinitesimal. … The reeling Eagles play host to the Cowboys as Reid and Vick try to drown out the angry noise around them. 

Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSaints.