December 21, 2008

Saints Disarm Trap: 42-7 Romp In Detroit is Eighth Win

Four first-half rushing touchdowns by four different players; calm Brees tosses 2 TD's in second half

The New Orleans Saints received four rushing touchdowns, one each from WR Robert Meachem, RB Deuce McAllister, RB Mike Bell and RB Pierre Thomas and two receiving scores by Marques Colston to dismantle the Detroit Lions 42-7. The Saints (8-7) scored touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game and also forced two takeaways on defense and the Lions fell to 0-15.

New Orleans racked up 532 yards in total offense to the Lions’ 255 and the Saints held the ball for 34:29 in time of possession and converted a team-record 11-of-12 third down conversions (92%). QB Drew Brees threw for 351 yards, with nine of the passes being caught by WR Marques Colston (99 yards and two touchdowns) and the Saints’ running game, led by RB Pierre Thomas (13-77-1 TD) rushed for 181 yards on the day.

“I was pleased with out effort today,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “I thought we did a good job in all three phases of the game and we were very effective on third downs both offensively and defensively.”

“We made some key stops on defense and I thought that Skyler gave us an early spark on special teams and set the tone for us,” Payton said.

“Our goal is to finish the season 9-7,” Payton said. “That’s our goal right now and it is our motivation and we hope it will serve as a springboard for us.”

WR Skyler Green, who was activated before the game from the team’s practice squad, returned the opening kickoff 60 yards and the Saints needed only five plays before hitting pay dirt on Meachem’s 20-yard TD run. On the opening drive the Saints ran the ball three times for 25 yards and picked up 16 yards through the air on two Drew Brees completions.

On the Saints’ first drive of the game WR Robert Meachem made his first career rushing attempt a memorable one, as he took an end around handoff and picked up key blocks from FB Mike Karney and WR Devery Henderson and raced 20 yards for a touchdown. Meachem’s run capped the Saints’ opening drive of the game and put the Saints ahead, 7-0 after only 2:43 had expired in the game.

Detroit began their initial possession of the game at their own 28 yard-line and elected to try to establish the running game early on the heels of rookie RB Kevin Smith. The Lions converted a third-and-long early in the drive on a 19-yard pass from QB Dan Orlovsky to WR John Standeford, which took to ball to the Saints’ 48 yard-line.

CB Jason David ended the Lions’ first drive when he recorded his career-high and team-high fifth interception of the season on a long bomb intended for Standeford at the Saints’ three-yard line.

Following David’s interception the Saints began at their own three. RB Deuce McAllister ripped off an 18-yard gain with a quick move through the Lions line and linebacker, and in the process the Saints’ all-time leading rusher eclipsed the 6,000 rushing yard mark for his career. McAllister then added a reception on the next play and two quick completions over the middle took the Saints to their own 33. Brees and Meachem nearly hooked up on a deep pass down the middle of the field, but CB Leigh Bodden tipped the ball away from Meachem at the last possible moment.

Brees hit TE Billy Miller for a nine-yard completion on a third-and-six, which set the Saints up at their own 46. The Saints moved into Lions territory for the second time during the afternoon Brees then connected with Colston for an 11-yard gain and a first down and the two very narrowly connected on a long scoring pass on the next play, but Colston couldn’t quite reel in the aerial.

Lance Moore recorded his first reception of the day on a nine-yard swing pass from Brees to the Lions’ 20, which brought up a third-and-one and Thomas smashed over the middle of the Saints’ offensive line for a two-yard gain and another first down. Thomas then bulled his way over the left side for a two-yard gain to the Detroit 16 before Brees hit Colston on a quick slant for 11 yards and first down to the Detroit 5. McAllister picked up three yards on first down and a second down incompletion backed the Lions off the line a tad bit, which set up McAllister’s two-yard touchdown run, the 49th rushing of his career and the 55th overall of his career. The Saints’ 97-yard scoring drive was their longest of the season, besting a 91-yard touchdown drive they accomplished against the 49ers earlier in the season.

Second-year wide receiver Calvin Johnson recorded back-to-back receptions for the Lions on Detroit’s second drive of the game, taking the ball into Saints’ territory.

The Lions faced a third-and-one at the Saints’ 45 and converted it with a 10-yard run off the right side of their offensive line before being pushed out of bounds by S Roman Harper. Two plays later Orlovsky hit a crossing Williams for a 28-yard gain to the Saints’ five. Smith then picked up four yards to the one. DT Antwan Lake then shot through a hole in the Detroit line and dropped Smith for a two-yard loss on second down and Orlovsky’s third down pass intended for Williams missed it’s mark. Harper appeared to have defended a fourth-down pass intended for former Saints reserve TE John Owens, but the officials flagged Harper for pass interference and on the next play Smith scored from one-yard out on a dive behind left guard, which pulled the Lions to within a touchdown, 14-7, with 9:45 left in second quarter.

The Saints started at their own 20 yard-line following the Lions’ first score of the game and nearly picked up a big chunk of yardage on the first play from scrimmage when Brees and TE Jeremy Shockey nearly connected, but the two couldn’t quite connect. A Thomas seven-yard run set up an eight-yard third down completion between Brees and Shockey over the middle of the field. On a third-and-two, Thomas squirted over the right side of the line leaped over a diving attempted tackler and bolted 29-yard down the sideline for a first down to the Lions 26. RB Mike Bell picked up five yards while Thomas caught a breath of air on the sideline. Two plays later Brees hit Bell as he swung out of the backfield for a gain of 14 yards. Bell, as he was reaching for the goal line with the ball, lost the football and former Tampa Bay Bucs LB Ryan Nece recovered it in the end zone. The officials ruled the play a fumble on the field, but Saints Head Coach Sean Payton challenged the ruling, saying that Bell’s knees were down before the football came loose.

The officials ruled in the Saints’ favor and the Saints had the ball inside the one-yard line. To plays later Bell vaulted over the middle of the line for his first touchdown as a member of the Saints. He became the 13th different player to record a touchdown for the Saints this season.

Saints DE Jeff Charleston thwarted the Lions’ next drive with a third down sack of Orlovsky. It was Charleston’s third sack of the season and the Saints’ 26th of the season. The Saints started their fourth possession of the game at their own 45 and quickly moved into Lions territory on a completion from Brees to Shockey for 12 yards. Thomas then picked up a hard earned five yards before Brees and Shockey teamed up for a gain of five on the last play before the clock hit the 2:00 warning and with the ball on the Detroit 40.

A second down pass intended for Colston was incomplete and the Saints called a timeout to regroup just before the play clock hit 0. Brees came right back, though, looked right and stepped up in the pocked and found a streaking Devery Henderson on the left side of the field for a gain of 32-yard to the Detroit 8. Brees then dropped back and found Thomas underneath for a gain of six yards. Thomas picked up the last two yards with an interior dive for the Saints’ fourth rushing score of the first half. Thomas’s team-high ninth rushing score of the season added to his total of 12 touchdowns this season, which made the score 28-7 in the Saints’ favor.

CB Usama Young ended the first half by intercepting Orlovsky on a Hail Mary attempt as time expired. It was Young’s second interception of the season.

Detroit took possession of the ball to start the second half and scuffled with penalties on their initial drive, eventually succumbing to the Saints’ defensive pressure and elected to punt from their own 41 with 11:45 left in the third quarter. Lance Moore fair caught a punt at the Saints’ 24 yard-line and Brees quickly went to work, hitting Thomas out of the backfield for a gain of 11 yards and a first down. Brees then found a sprinting Henderson for gain of 64 yards to the Detroit 6 and on the next play slung a quick out to Colston for a six-yard touchdown pass that put the Saints ahead 35-7 following the point after conversion by Hartley.

The Saints defense once again halted the Lions and forced a punt from their 41. Moore muffed the wobbly punt but an alert Marvin Mitchell pounced on the loose ball at the Saints’ 24 with 7:00 left in the third quarter.

A 17-yard completion from Brees to Colston along the sideline began the Saints’ second drive of the second half. Two plays later McAllister picked up two yards. On a third-and-eight Brees found Colston crossing behind the linebackers for a 30-yard gain to the Detroit 27 and then zipped a laser across the middle to TE Billy Miller for a gain of 21 yards. Brees then found Moore in the flat for a two-yard gain before McAllister spun forward for a gain of a yard. On third-and-goal Brees connected with Colston for his second receiving score of the game and the Saints’ sixth consecutive score, which made the score 42-7.

Once again Detroit could not drive any further than their own 45 yard-line and again elected to punt the ball away with 1:48 left in the third quarter from their own 23. Bell found a hole and picked up 15 yards and decked S Daniel Bullocks by lowering his shoulder near the end of his run. TE Billy Miller picked up a first down on a reception from Brees on the second to last play of the third quarter, it was the Saints’ ninth straight third down conversion of the game and at that point the Saints were a perfect nine-of-nine on third downs.

On the first play of the fourth quarter Thomas picked up seven yards on an inside handoff and Brees and Miller converted the 10th straight third down with a five-yard completion. Thomas then spun down for 11 yards to the Detroit 20 but coughed up the ball when tackled from behind by CB Leigh Bodden, who returned the ball nine yards to the 29 before being tackled by Meachem. It was the first lost fumble of Thomas’s career.

QB Drew Stanton came on in relief of Orlovsky in the fourth quarter. The Lions converted a third down with a pass over the middle to WR Keary Colbert. A few plays later Stanton scrambled for 15 yards to the Saints’ 36. Smith was the Lions bell cow, running five straight times and taking the ball to the Saints’ 16. A third down pass intended for Standeford was broken up in the corner of the end zone by CB Leigh Torrence and brought up a fourth-and-five with 6:25 left in the game. Rookie DT Sedrick Ellis recorded his fourth sack of the season when he dropped Stanton for a two-yard loss and forced the Lions to turn the ball over on downs.

Thomas was stopped for no gain on first down before Brees hit Karney for a loss of one yards on second down. Brees coolly hit Moore for a gain of 17 yards and the first down. The reception took Brees over 350 yards passing for the game. McAllister then picked up seven yards and came right back with a gain of 19 yards, his longest rush of the season. McAllister then picked up five more yards on a first down carry. Bell then picked up the first down with a seven-yard carry as the clock hit the two-minute warning. The Saints took a knee to run out the clock.

Notes: Former LSU receiver/return specialist Skyler Green made his debut with the Saints this afternoon after spending the first 15 weeks of the season on the practice squad. Green started the game with a 60-yard kickoff return to the Lions’ 41. The Saints also signed defensive tackle Remi Ayodele from their practice squad. To make room the team released fullback Darian Barnes and defensive end Josh Savage ... Mike Bell’s touchdown run in the second quarter was the Saints’ 50h of season, which set a new team-record for most TD in season ... QB Drew Brees has broke his team record for most passing yards in a season in the first half … TE Jeremy Shockey suffered an ankle injury in the first half and did not return.

• QB Drew Brees completed 30 of 40 passes for 351 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Brees’ third quarter six-yard touchdown pass to WR Marques Colston was his 29th of the season, eclipsing the club record of 28 he previously set in 2008. Brees now has a career-high 4,683 passing yards on the season. Brees needs to throw for 402 yards next week to set the NFL record for most passing yards in a season, currently held by Dan Marino.

• RB Pierre Thomas rushed 13 times for a team-high 77 yards with a two-yard touchdown, the longest run of his career and had three receptions for 26 yards to record 103 total yards from scrimmage. With his second quarter two-yard touchdown run, Thomas has scored touchdowns in six consecutive games, tying a record previously held by RB Dalton Hilliard, who did it twice (12/18/88-10/8/89 and 10/18-11/29/92).

• Thomas now has 12 total touchdowns on the season, the fourth-highest single season total in club history.
• With his 18-yard carry in the first half, RB Deuce McAllister surpassed the 6,000 yards rushing mark, becoming the 68th NFL runner to do this. McAllister had eight carries for 56 yards on the day.
• Colston had nine receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns.
• CB Jason David’s first quarter interception was his fifth of the season, setting a new career-high. David’s interception total is also the highest by a Saints since Mike McKenzie had five in 2004. The pick led to a 97-yard scoring drive, the club’s longest of the season.
• The Saints had four rushing touchdowns in the game through halftime. The Saints had five rushing touchdowns in a game once at Tampa Bay, 10/14/79. This is the seventh time they have had four rushing touchdowns in a game, but only the first time that four different players have accounted for the touchdowns. With 20 rushing touchdowns on the season, the Saints are now tied for the second-highest total in club history.
• With six touchdowns, the Saints now have 53 touchdowns on the season, eclipsing the prior club record of 49 set in 2002 and 2006.
• The Saints have now scored 432 points on the season, tying the club record set in 2002.
• The Saints had 32 first downs (which tied a team-record for most first downs recorded in a single game).

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