October 18, 2009

Fleur de Sweep - Saints smash all three New York state teams with 48-27 win over Giants

  • It was a start to finish domination of the Giants by the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday. The Saints took 7:41 off the clock on a 15-play, 70-yard drive that featured two third down conversions and a fourth down goal line leap by Mike Bell for the touchdown. The Saints have now scored on all five game opening drives this season, four for touchdowns.

  • The Saints have still never trailed in a game this season.

  • On that first drive, Lance Moore was heavily featured, catching three balls for two first downs. The first was a one-handed juggling catch of a traffic-deflected pass behind him for an 18-yard gain on third and long. Moore, ever smiling, caught his first touchdown of the season in the second quarter, sneaking wide open down the seam. He finished with six catches for 78 yards, tripling his season catches output to date. Moore was Payton's secret weapon for the game.

  • Between Bell and Pierre Thomas, the Saints running game kept the offense on the field with 106 yards rushing and helped the Saints dominate time of possession with over 37 minutes of the game. Reggie Bush and Bell each scored short rushing touchdowns, though Thomas was denied his own at the end of the second quarter.

  • In a fast-paced turn of events in the final minutes of the first half, the Saints responded to Manning's first touchdown pass with a 70-yard drive to the Giants goal line, moving most of the way on the power of 40 and 20 yard receptions by stellar WR Marques Colston. On first and goal, Thomas, WR Robert Meachem and Bell were each denied the end zone on rushes. The Saints sent Thomas off left tackle on fourth down and a very questionable on-field call ruled that he was short. A replay review provided insufficient evidence to overturn the call. Sean Payton ran out onto the field near the goal line and drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that set the Giants up at their own 15. But two plays later, blitzing safety Roman Harper sacked Giants QB Eli Manning from behind and forced a fumble that Scott Shanle picked up in stride and returned to the Giant 7. Two plays later, a speedy Reggie Bush dashed in from seven yards out for the touchdown that Pierre Thomas probably earned minutes earlier.

  • Harper was part of a Saints secondary that played remarkably well against Manning and his cadre of young receivers. Giants WR Steve Smith, leading the league with 37 receptions and 481 yards coming into the game, caught only two passes for 16 yards before Manning left the game in the fourth quarter. WR Mario Manningham caught four passes for 50 yards, including Manning's only touchdown, and it was rookie WR Hakeem Nicks who caught a late pass from Giants backup QB David Carr. Nicks had a 58-yard catch and run from Manning that set up his last points, a field goal in the early fourth that brought the score to 41-20.

  • Darren Sharper had his sixth interception and third season touchdown today, but a roughing the passer call on Jonathan Vilma, who put his helmet into Manning's facemask, nullified the play. Sharper was beaten by Manningham on the touchdown, as Sharper went for the pick but just barely missed. He nearly collected another interception in the end zone on a pass that went off his fingertips.

  • Both Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer, the Saints' starting cornerbacks, played like All Pros. Both had fantastic, acrobatic pass breakups and were each credited with two pass defenses. Greer collected an interception on a long, lame duck pass to Nicks down the right sideline. The excellent Saints secondary held Manning to 14 of 31 pass completions for 178 yards and a touchdown.

  • Drew Brees broke out of his two-game touchdown-less slump with three in the first half and another in the third quarter. As always, Brees was remarkably accurate, poised and in control of this Saints defense. Payton established a good mix of running plays as well. The final four plays of the Saints' first drive were on the ground, and the Saints ran 39 times during the game to 30 pass attempts. In the first half, the Saints had perfect balance, rushing 19 times to 20 passes. The Giants ran the ball only 19 times all game, splitting between Ahmad Bradshaw and Louisiana native Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw scored on a run in the second quarter.

  • Brees' numbers were fantastic today. He hit on 15 straight passes in the first half, the team record for consecutive completions in a single game, tied with Eli's dad Archie. Brees finished 23/30 for 369 yards and four touchdowns, no picks and no sacks. He also had a key six yard scramble for an early first down, though he unwisely dove head first into tacklers instead of sliding.

  • Colston was targeted eight times, all receptions, with 166 yards and a touchdown. That's his highest yardage output since a 2006 shootout in Pittsburgh when he was a rookie. Colston is clearly back in top form and he was uncoverable today. Colston, 27, is already fourth in franchise career receiving touchdowns with 27, behind Joe Horn (50), Eric Martin (49) and Danny Abramowicz (37).

  • Special teams was the flaw in today's sparkling gem. Kickoff returns by Domenik Hixon were the best offense the Giants had. Hixon finished with a whopping 230 yards on seven kickoff returns including a 45-yard return that set up the Giants' first field goal, a 68-yard return that set up the Giants' second touchdown. Hixon also gashed the Saints for a 27-yard punt return. Finally, the Saints had an extra point blocked, John Carney's second blocked kick this season. Special teams has been a sore spot for the Saints at times this year, and needs to improve.

  • Seven different Saints scored touchdowns today, a feat not accomplished by this franchise since 1969. They were, in order: RB Mike Bell two yard rush, TE Jeremy Shockey one yard catch, WR Robert Meachem 36 yard catch, Lance Moore 12 yard catch, Reggie Bush seven yard run, Marques Colston 12 yard pass, Heath Evans two yard run. Yet, these Saints are only the fourth team since 1970 to have seven different men score TDs.

  • The Saints have beaten all three New York state franchises in the last three games: Buffalo 27-7, Jets 24-10, Giants 48-27. The Saints franchise hasn't done that ever before. The Saints were 2-1 against the three NY franchises in 2005. The Saints were 1-2 against the three NY franchises in 2001. And yes, we know, the Giants and Jets actually play in New Jersey.

  • The Saints are 5-0, only the third time in franchise history. Previously, the Saints went 7-0 in 1991 and 5-0 in 1993, though in 1993 the team finished 8-8 and failed to make the playoffs.

  • The Saints gave a game ball to Adam Zimmer, an assistant on the defensive side, whose mother passed away last week.

  • LB Scott Fujita left the game at the end of the first quarter with a calf injury and missed the rest of the game. Troy Evans replaced him at strongside linebacker and was in on four tackles. Fujita's extended absence would be bad for the Saints, as Evans is primarily a special teams player. Then again, Gregg Williams' system has turned Scott Shanle from perennial replacement candidate into productive stalwart, so lets not rule out Evans being effective on defense. Though, Evans play on defense have contributed to personnel churn on special teams that worsened the performance of coverage teams.

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