McNair said he thought he could get the ball to Heap before the defenders turned around. He was wrong.

So even when the Ravens ad-libbed from Billick's game plan, they still found success.

"It was lucky," McNair said. "We didn't practice it going through [two] guys."

Other than that play, the Ravens were crisp and prepared in not only going against the Saints but a deafening crowd of 69,152.

They fooled the New Orleans defense with a designed quarterback draw by McNair to score their first touchdown. They kept the Saints off-balance on a third-and-two call late in the first quarter, when McNair threw a 30-yard pass to Heap off play-action. They even lined Lewis up at fullback to convert a second-and-short near the end of the first half.

Asked if there was any additional pressure for taking over the play-calling, Billick said, "Whether you jump off a 30-story building or a 50-story building, at some point it's just another story."

He then joked, "I particularly like the play calls of the two interceptions for touchdowns."

If there was a bright spot for the defense -- it allowed 400 yards for the second straight game -- it was creating turnovers and shutting down Reggie Bush.

The second pick overall in the draft finished with 21 yards of total offense (16 yards rushing and 5 yards receiving) and two turnovers before the Ravens knocked him out of the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.

In total, the Ravens converted 28 points off five turnovers by New Orleans.

"It's not any magic formula," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "It went against everything we've been trying to accomplish."

The next challenge for the Ravens is whether they can create the same magic with their new offense Sunday against division rival Cincinnati.

"Today was a small step," receiver Derrick Mason said. "We want to have an identity of a balanced offense, one that can kill you whether it's by the run or the pass."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com