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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; —The San Francisco 49ers certainly remember the last time they went against the Saints in the Superdome last December. Saints rookie running back Reggie Bush used the game as his NFL coming-out party as he piled up 168 total yards ...

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Old 10-26-2007, 06:24 PM   #1
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Cool Saints Notes, Quotes

—The San Francisco 49ers certainly remember the last time they went against the Saints in the Superdome last December.

Saints rookie running back Reggie Bush used the game as his NFL coming-out party as he piled up 168 total yards from scrimmage and tied a club record with four touchdowns in a 34-10 romp over the Niners.

Bush accounted for more than half of the Saints' total offense of 375 yards that day with 131 yards (a club record by a running back) on nine receptions and added 37 rushing yards. He had touchdown runs of one, eight and 10 yards and also caught a five-yard scoring pass from Drew Brees.

—The Saints are working a streak of five straight games without allowing an opposing team to rush for 100 yards after holding the Atlanta Falcons to just 75 yards on 24 carries in a 22-16 win last Sunday.

It's the longest such streak for the Saints since the 1992 team held five consecutive opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground. The difference was the 1992 Saints won all five of those games, while the current Saints are 2-3 in their five-game stretch.

It's an important streak nonetheless, for the Saints — who ranked 23rd in rushing defense a year ago and allowed a whopping 4.9 yards a carry. Since giving up 164 yards in a season-opening loss at Indianapolis, the Saints have kept Tampa Bay (87 yards), Tennessee [98], Carolina [88], Seattle (92) and Atlanta (75) below 100.

In doing so, the Saints are allowing just 3.6 yards an attempt, which ranks fifth in the league. They also rank 12th in yards allowed per game at 100.7.

—It's not exactly a shock, but you can count Saints coach Sean Payton among those who are impressed with how the New England Patriots have dismantled the competition in their first seven games.

Payton said he has watched about six of the Patriots' games.

"I think you pay attention to teams that are having the kind of success they're having," Payton said. "We're able to get all the film, so we take a look during the course of the week at the top offenses and top defenses the same way. They're playing great football.

"It starts with the quarterback, and they're doing a great job up front. When you look at both Indianapolis and New England, they both do a real good job of playing a complementary game on both sides of the ball. They're certainly setting a benchmark for everyone else."

—Saints owner Tom Benson, who served in the Navy during World War II, will be one of four men honored Monday night in Washington, D.C., during the "Lone Sailor" Awards dinner.

Hosted by the United States Navy Memorial, the black-tie gala will also honor celebrated veterans whose service includes duty in the Navy during World War II and the Marine Corps during the Korean conflict. The other honorees are Morgan L. Fitch Jr., Stan Musial and U.S. Sen. John Warner.

The Lone Sailor Award is given to Sea Service veterans who have distinguished themselves in their respective careers while exemplifying the core values of honor, courage and commitment.

—With another West Coast trip coming up this week, to San Francisco, the Saints will follow the same routine they used two weeks ago in traveling to Seattle. They will leave Friday night and practice Saturday at Monster Park.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 — Pass plays of 20 yards or more by the Saints in their last two games, both of which they won. They had five in their first four games this season — all losses.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think when we watch the tape and we make the corrections, the players will understand that there's still improvement on the field and there are still areas that we can improve on. Nonetheless, I felt like we played with real good energy and I thought we played physical. That was encouraging." — Saints coach Sean Payton, on his team's 22-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons.


The Saints have had a lot of luck with their offensive line since Sean Payton took over as head coach 24 games ago.

In that span, the Saints had only one game missed because of injury among a starting group that includes center Jeff Faine, tackles Jammal Brown and Jon Stinchcomb, and guards Jamar Nesbit and Jahri Evans. Brown missed one game midway through last season with a sprained ankle.

The Saints will apparently find out Sunday if luck continues. Faine injured his left pectoral muscle in last week's win over the Atlanta Falcons and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Payton said they won't make a decision until just before their game at San Francisco. At this point, it seems unlikely that Faine will play considering a center's blocking duties including working a lot with his hands and arms up near his chest.

"He has a pectoral strain," Payton said. "It's pretty sore and it limits you in how much you can move and expand and block. We'll see where he's at."

If Faine can't play, six-year NFL veteran Jonathan Goodwin would get his first start since signing with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2006 season. His backup would likely be left guard Jamar Nesbit.


—C Jeff Faine missed a second straight practice Thursday with a left pectoral muscle injury and will likely be a game-time decision, coach Sean Payton said, for Sunday's game at San Francisco.

—C/G Jonathan Goodwin, a six-year veteran, will start in place of Faine if Faine is sidelined for Sunday's game with the 49ers.

—LG Jamar Nesbit, who has played some center in his nine-year NFL career, would likely be the backup center to Goodwin if Faine is inactive Sunday.

—DT Brian Young, who did not practice Wednesday, worked on a limited basis Thursday. He is making progress after having his left knee drained Monday and Wednesday and said he expects to play against the 49ers.

—RCB Jason David again practiced fully Thursday and is full go for the 49ers after missing three games with a fractured left forearm. He'll wear a soft cast to protect the arm, which was surgically repaired on Sept. 25.

—RCB Jason Craft has started the last three games in place of David, but there has been no indication who will start Sunday.

GAME PLAN: The Saints, who have played much better on offense the last two weeks, will try to play keep-away against San Francisco. Opponents of the 49ers have averaged 33:51 in time of possession to just 26:08 for the Niners, which could be a key to a road win for the Saints. Of course, the Saints will have to run the ball effectively and make key third-down conversions to make that happen. Defensively, the Saints must stop 49ers running back Frank Gore from breaking loose early because of the problems they have had at quarterback. The Niners have also given up 24 sacks in just six games, which is good news for a Saints defense that has turned up the heat and recorded eight sacks in the last two games.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Saints RB Reggie Bush vs. 49ers MLB Patrick Willis. Bush had a monster game against the 49ers last year in the Superdome. He ran for three scores and caught another, with his final TD coming with 11:18 remaining in the contest, and had 168 total yards. If he gets going once again, it could be a long afternoon for the Niners.

Saints front seven vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore. The Saints have been good against the run since giving up 164 yards to the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener. They have not allowed an opposing team to rush for 100 since then, so continuing that against a quality back like Gore would be huge.

Saints special teams vs. 49ers KR Michael Lewis. The Saints have done an adequate job covering punts this season, giving up just more than 10 yards a return, but they will have to be at their best this week against their former teammate. Lewis' contract was terminated in June, so he'll be trying to prove that they were wrong in letting him go.

INJURY IMPACT: Faine has a left pectoral muscle injury and may not be able to play in Sunday's game with the 49ers.

Goodwin, who played extensively in the exhibition season when Faine was out with a strained calf, will start if Faine can't go.

Inside Slant - USATODAY.com

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