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New Orleans rises from dead, shows life

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans rises from dead, shows life Associated Press NEW ORLEANS — What a fitting story line in a city where cemeteries draw tourists and appear in feature films. The New Orleans Saints have risen from the proverbial crypt, responding ...

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Old 11-10-2007, 09:37 PM   #1
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New Orleans rises from dead, shows life

New Orleans rises from dead, shows life
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — What a fitting story line in a city where cemeteries draw tourists and appear in feature films.
The New Orleans Saints have risen from the proverbial crypt, responding to a mistake-filled 0-4 start with an impressive four-game winning streak that has them in position to tie for the NFC South Division lead with a victory in their next game against winless St. Louis.

"The other teams in our division — they're looking over their shoulder," Saints fullback Mike Karney said. "We've got the baton and we're coming up fast."

The most obvious difference during the past month has been the production from Drew Brees, who threw for 445 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-24 triumph over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
In New Orleans' opening four losses, Brees threw only one touchdown pass and was intercepted nine times. He's more than reversed that trend during the past four victories, throwing for 11 touchdowns and only one interception.

In the process, he's taken a lot of pressure off of the defense, which has been able to spend more time on the sidelines enjoying the show.

"It's just fun to watch them work like that," Saints linebacker Scott Fujita said. "For a couple of weeks now we have seen them really spreading the ball around."

Brees' 35 completions on 49 attempts without an interception were impressive enough. Reggie Bush wasn't bad, either, scoring touchdowns on a short run and a short reception. He gained 115 total yards, surpassing the 100-yard mark for the third time in four games.

Brees' other scoring passes went to Lance Moore and David Patten. Marques Colston had 10 catches for 159 yards.

"An 0-4 start is going to do one of two things," said Brees, who helped the Saints tie a team record with 32 first downs, 25 on pass plays. "It's either going to throw you in the tank or it's going to give you an edge. ... It's only made us stronger. It's only made us tougher mentally, and now we're in a position where we're hardened a little bit. We've been tested a little bit and we've fought through it, and now's our time to make that jump."

The Saints' more rested defense is making some plays of its own. New Orleans registered three interceptions of Jacksonville's Quinn Gray, and Mike McKenzie returned one of them 75 yards for a score.

Now all the preseason hype seems a little more justified as the Saints (4-4) have become legitimate contenders in the NFC South again, only a half-game behind division-leading Tampa Bay (5-4). This latest victory over Jacksonville (5-3) was the Saints' most impressive, given the quality of the opponent. The Saints also proved they can indeed play with the AFC, against which they were 0-5 since beating Cleveland on opening day of the 2006 season.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, need to get some players healthy and others in line behaviorally before this stretch of two losses in three games gets worse.

Gray, starting his second game for injured David Garrard (ankle), opened well, but his performance dipped after he sprained his left ankle on a hit by Will Smith early in the second quarter. He finished 20-for-33 for 354 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD pass to Reggie Williams and a 15-yard scoring pass to Dennis Northcutt.

Maurice Jones-Drew's 100-yard kickoff return in the second quarter for Jacksonville's other TD.

Gray said his ankle sprain "obviously hurt," but that he would "be back strong for next week."

Some of his teammates may not be.

Starting left tackle Khalif Barnes was benched for what coach Jack Del Rio described vaguely as a disciplinary matter. Rookie linebacker Justin Durant, who has played in six games and started twice, was left in Jacksonville after being arrested early Saturday and charged with resisting arrest without violence. Also arrested and suspended was reserve second-year offensive tackle Richard Collier, who was cited for driving drunk.

"One thing we will have in Jacksonville is a team that understands that there is right from wrong and there will be discipline," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "Obviously, those guys let us down."

Meanwhile, starting right guard Chris Naeole went out with what Del Rio said might me a ruptured quad tendon that would sideline him for the rest of the year.

Notes: Saints kicker Olindo Mare's 46-yard field goal in the first quarter was his longest this season, but he also missed field goals of 42 and 52 yards late in the first half. He's 6-for-12 on field goals this season. ... Former Saints kicker John Carney had a 30-yard field goal for Jacksonville, but his lack of range, which prompted Payton to release him last winter, was an issue in this game. The Jaguars decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 from the New Orleans 34, and McKenzie had his touchdown on that play.
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