this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The Saints stumble against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game, but starters see little action in the first of five preseason games Monday, August 06, 2007 By Mike Triplett CANTON, OHIO -- At least one good thing came ...
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Fall In The Hall
The Saints stumble against the Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game, but starters see little action in the first of five preseason games
Monday, August 06, 2007
By Mike Triplett
CANTON, OHIO -- At least one good thing came out of the Saints' preseason opener Sunday night:
They will have plenty of motivation to get back to Jackson, Miss., for another week of two-a-days.
"Tonight was a first step, and one that showed where we need to keep working," Saints tailback Reggie Bush said of the Saints' 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers -- a score that wasn't a true indication of how much the Steelers dominated.
"Just like I told the team after this game, you really can't spin it any other way than the way we played," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "I thought we were sloppy, sluggish. I thought they were more physical than us. We struggled on third down in the first half.
"I don't know if we converted one third down. I don't know if we got past the 50-yard line."
Pittsburgh dominated on both sides of the ball during the first half, when the first- and second-stringers were in the game.
At one point, the Steelers led 17-0 and had outgained the Saints 288 yards to 29.
Pittsburgh completed 10 of its first 14 passes for 202 yards. The Saints completed one of their first 11 passes for 6 yards.
It was downright ugly -- from Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's 55-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson on the second play of the game to third-string tailback Carey Davis' 56-yard run midway through the second quarter.
It was not a Hall of Fame-worthy performance.
"Obviously we wanted to start faster, be a little bit more crisp and efficient. They got up on us early," said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who completed one of six passes for 6 yards before calling it a night after two series.
"Hey, for the first preseason game, I'm just glad to have it under our belts," he said. "I think we learned something in this game, that we obviously need to be better prepared. And we need to come out and play with a little more energy.
"I just felt like we were flat. We never were really able to get a rhythm going in any part of the game."
The good news is that this game is practically meaningless in the grand scheme of an NFL season. The Saints looked just as bad after three exhibition games last season and wound up going to the NFC championship game.
But it still was a frustrating way to start the 2007 season -- in a game televised on NFL Network.
When asked what disappointed him most, Payton said, "All three phases of it."
"Offense, defense, special teams, penalties. I can point to 15 things here. That's the thing that was disappointing," Payton said. "I've got to do a better job. Our staff's got to do a better job, and that's really all you can say about it."
The defense's performance might have been the most frustrating, because it was stymied by the same problem that plagued it last season -- giving up too many big plays.
In the first half, the Saints allowed eight plays of more than 10 yards.
Pittsburgh took the opening kickoff and marched quickly to a touchdown. Wilson beat Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie to get open for the 55-yard gain. Three plays later, Roethlisberger again connected with Wilson with a 14-yard slant against McKenzie on third-and-9.
Tailback Najeh Davenport finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
The Steelers' second touchdown was set up by a 41-yard pass from third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre to receiver Santonio Holmes on third-and-6 from the Saints' 48-yard line.
Holmes beat cornerback Jason David. To make matters worse, cornerback Anwar Phillips also was flagged for a facemask penalty.
"Hey, it's the preseason. I know this football team," defensive end Charles Grant said. "A lot of people are going to be frustrated and say, 'Look at the Saints. They were a fluke last year.' But I promise you, Sean Payton will have this team ready by the time we go to Indianapolis (in Week 1).
"This team's going to be way better than that. When we roll into Indianapolis, you'll see the real us."
The Saints scored in the third quarter on a 1-yard pass from quarterback Jason Fife to backup fullback Kevin Dudley.
Fife looked much better than rookie Tyler Palko in the third-string quarterback battle. He completed five of eight passes for 47 yards and led the Saints on a 16-play touchdown drive.
Palko completed four of eight passes for 53 yards with an interception in the fourth quarter.
First-round draft pick Robert Meachem had a frustrating game with one reception for 6 yards and two dropped passes. He also left the game briefly after being drilled by cornerback William Gay.
Defensive end Will Smith and receiver Terrance Copper might have had the Saints' best performances. Smith had four tackles, including a sack, and Copper caught three passes for 39 yards.
The Saints have a short turnaround before their next preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Friday at the Superdome. They will have meetings and tape study today before resuming practices Tuesday.