this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; For the second Sunday in a row, they proved they could win without Drew Brees throwing for a touchdown. It didn't matter. This time the defense threw for a couple. This time it was Darren Sharper going 99 yards after ...
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|10-05-2009, 04:08 PM||#1|
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For the second Sunday in a row, they proved they could win without Drew Brees throwing for a touchdown.
It didn't matter.
This time the defense threw for a couple.
This time it was Darren Sharper going 99 yards after picking off an interception.
Then it was defensive end Will Smith barreling into the end zone to knock the ball from the extended arm of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Just like that, the Saints had two second-quarter touchdowns that paved the way to a 24-10 victory over the Jets at the Superdome and sent them into a bye week with a 4-0 record and soaring expectations.
Complete game coverage
Jeff Duncan: New Orleans Saints playing Sharper defense
Jeff Duncan's postgame video log
Recapping the game
Grading the Saints
Jets disrupt Saints' offense
Yes, the defense has definitely arrived.
On this Sunday, you didn't have to look far for the biggest play.
There was the home team with a 3-0 lead gong into the second quarter, and there were the Jets, camped on the Saints' 15-yard line, facing second-and-8.
And there came Sharper, reading what was inside the head of a rookie quarterback, timing his break perfectly, virtually taking it from the hands of tight end Dustin Keller and heading for the Poydras Street end zone.
The interception personified what has made a 33-year-old safety keep on ticking after 13 years in the NFL.
"Darren is not afraid to make a move on the ball when the opportunity is there, " linebacker Scott Shanle said. "You'd be surprised how many guys see a chance like Darren had and are reluctant to attack the ball. Not Darren. Darren is always in an attack mode, which is why he has more picks than anyone playing the game today. Attack, attack is his motto. That's why he fits so well into (defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams' defensive schemes."
This was simply a case of a veteran making a rookie pay, you might say, a game-changing price.
"At certain times all quarterbacks know where they're going with the ball, " Sharper said. "He actually did a great job of trying to look off, but you can use reverse psychology when they try to look you off and go the opposite way."
It wasn't too long after Sharper went the length of the field to make the score 10-0 that Smith hacked the football away from an obviously rattled Sanchez as the Jets were backed up on their 2-yard line.
It was only seconds later the bouncing ball was in the clutches of defensive tackle Remi Ayodele.
"My first touchdown since high school, " Ayodele said. "I had three as a schoolboy, but that's when I was playing fullback and linebacker in addition to defensive tackle. So, yeah, this is special moment for me."
And pretty much a death knell for the Jets.
"There were times their defense made Mark look like a rookie, " New York Coach Rex Ryan said. "He made some mistakes I'm sure he'd like to have back."
"Sharper read me the entire way, " said Sanchez, who was picked off three times -- twice by Sharper. "He saw my eyes, and I threw it right to him. It was a poor decision and a poor use of my eyes. My mistakes killed us, gave 'em 14 points, on a day our defense played well enough for us to win."
Brees, meanwhile, found the Jets' defense as tough as billed. He did his best to "manage the game" and stay turnover-free, and he welcomed an 86-yard rushing day from Pierre Thomas, who put the game away when he ran the final yard of an 11-play march of 74 yards in the fourth quarter.
"We wanted to do our best to stay away from negative plays, " Brees said. "We were in there against a very good defense. My biggest (regret) was not being able to convert a couple of short-yardage situations."
As for Sharper's contribution, Brees heaped on the praise.
"Just look at his production so far, five interceptions, two returned for scores, " Brees said. "This defense allows him to do what he does best, sit back and be the quarterback, jump certain routes. I saw that all training camp long."
Ryan found Brees to be what he expected.
"The guy's a great quarterback, " Ryan said. "We never really got to him, never got to disrupt him that much. I don't think he was regular Drew Brees today, but he made enough throws to win the game."
That was all New Orleans Coach Sean Payton cared about.
His team has two weeks to prepare for Eli Manning and the Giants (4-0), who, barring a miracle, should be 5-0 (with a game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday) when they show up Oct. 18 at the Superdome.
How good are the Giants?
The Giants will be the best team the Saints have played so far, but the Saints will be favored.
Right now, at the Superdome, the Saints would be favored over any team in the league.
Don't go away.
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