Saints Beat New York With GIANT Effort
A year ago, they were the number one seed in the NFC entering the playoffs. Two years ago, they won the Super Bowl. Clearly, you need your best game to beat a team of this magnitude. The New Orleans Saints came up with a "giant" effort in pummeling the New York Giants 48-27 Sunday in the Superdome.
The New York Giants remain among the upper echelon, elite teams in the NFL. Of course, they won't get there unless they get healthier on defense. When you have defensive issues, you are in a heap of trouble against the New Orleans Saints, especially in the friendly confines of the Superdome. In visiting with my friend and radio co-host Archie Manning on Wednesday, he intimated to me that the Saints might win by double-figures due to the health issues the Giants had. He would prove prophetic. That was enough for me.
I picked the Saints to win the game though I thought it would be more competitive. It was not because the New Orleans offense was dominant, scoring on five of their six first-half possessions. Keep in mind that the only possession they did not score on ended inside the Giants' one-yard line on fourth-and-goal on a play that was reviewed.
I picked the Saints to win because, as I noted, they were at home, had an extra week to prepare and were a healthier team. This was so easy for the Saints' offense that with 5:04 to play in the first half, following Brees' 12-yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore, I turned to former Saints, LSU and Slidell High wide receiver Brett Bech and told him, "I feel like I'm watching Arena Football." The Saints were scoring virtually at will, as in Arena ball.
The Giants' secondary was exposed by Drew Brees. Without Kenny Phillips and Aaron Ross, the Giants were putty in the hands of the sculptor. Drew Brees made it look easy, going 23 of 30 for 369 yards and four touchdowns. He exhibited pin-point accuracy and made good decisions. When his receivers were tightly covered, they went up and made plays over befuddled Giants' defenders.
At one point, Brees hit on 15 consecutive passes in the first half. His receivers were superb. Robert Meachem had two catches for 70 yards. One went for a 36-yard score. The other went for 34 yards and a near score. Marques Colston was a beast, catching eight balls for 166 yards and a score. It was his 12th career game with 100 yards or more receiving, third best in Saints' history.
As I predicted he would in my game preview, Lance Moore had a breakout game. He caught six passes for 78 yards. Moore is healthy now and it makes a big difference. The week off helped him perhaps more than anyone else.
Brees was terrific but he had a lot of help from his friends. The Saints again had balance, rushing for 133 yards and three scores. Brees was not sacked. He was hardly touched. The 2009 Saints' offensive line is perhaps the best I have seen in team history. The grouping of Stan Brock, Brad Edelman, Jim Dombrowski, Joel Hilgenberg, Steve Trapilo, Steve Korte and company of the 1980's was a good one. This one may be better.
http://www.neworleans.com/components...1059992419.jpgThey keep Brees upright. They get real movement to provide running lanes for Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Reggie Bush. This is the most physical line the Saints have ever had.
The guard tandem of Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks is the best in franchise history. Evans is terrific. Nicks is a mauler, dominant in the run game. Jermon Bushrod played extremely well against Osi Yumenyiora and he is big and strong. Jon Stinchomb is a good technician. Center Jonathan Goodwin is improved over last year. Zach Strief is improved over last year. Jamar Nesbit is a quality reserve. We didn't even mention Pro Bowler Jammal Brown, who is out of action.
The 48-27 margin was misleading. It wasn't that close. Darren Sharper, who is in Eli Manning's head, had another pick-six on Manning that got called back for a helmet-to-helmet hit by Jonathan Vilma on Manning. The Giants would eventually score. Sharper nearly got another but Mario Manningham wrestled a Manning pass away from him for a score. The Giants scored a meaningless touchdown on a David Carr 37-yard pass to Hakeem Nicks over Saints reserve safety Usama Young. Of course, the Giants lost four points when a Manning to Jacobs touchdown pass was negated by a questionable holding call on Shaun O' Hara.
With his 369 yards, Brees became just the third quarterback in Saints history to eclipse 15,000 yards passing. Brees collected his 100th career touchdown pass with the Saints.
It was also a game of redemption. Sean Payton once coached with the Giants, calling plays for Jim Fassel. Payton suffered the ignominious demotion of having those play-calling duties revoked in 2000. He called some pretty good plays Sunday. Jeremy Shockey exacted revenge against his former team, catching a touchdown pass. He was so excited during the game that he had to be restrained by officials throughout. John Carney was on the winning side against a team that he made 35 of 38 field goals for a year ago.
Then, there was the matter of Eli Manning. Returning home for his first game ever in the Superdome, the former Newman High star was anything but super, suffering through a 14 of 31 performance for 178 yards with one touchdown and one interception though it should have been two. He looked uncomfortable, throwing off of his back foot frequently, perhaps bothered by the plantar fasciitis in his foot.
Of course, there were plays to be made. Manning barely missed Steve Smith deep once and under threw a pair of deep balls that had a chance. The Saints' had eight pass break-ups against Eli. It was not a happy homecoming.
Assumption High's Brandon Jacobs was fired up, more occupied with barking at Saintsations and going Mike Tyson' by challenging Remi Ayodele to a boxing match rather than making plays. Of course, he carried just seven times for 33 yards.
If you are looking for negatives in the game, start with Scott Fujita's calf injury. While Fujita is not a dominant player, he is important for Gregg Williams' defense. We will see how serious it is. Meachem drew the ire of wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson after failing to score on a reverse on second-and-goal from the Giants' three-yard line late in the first half. It appeared that Meachem could have easily scored had he challenged a smaller Giants defensive back. He did not and was stopped at the one-yard line.
The Saints would not score, with Pierre Thomas being stopped just short of the goal-line on fourth down. Of course, the Saints would end up scoring, anyway, following Roman Harper's sack of Eli Manning, causing a fumble which was recovered by Scott Shanle and returned to the seven yard-line. Reggie Bush would score with nine seconds remaining in the half to effectively put the Giants away at 34-17.
Of course, the biggest negative was the play of the special teams. Simply put, they were awful. Domenik Hixon returned seven kickoffs for 230 yards, an average of 32.9 yards per return. He had returns of 68 and 45 yards. Additionally, Hixon returned two punts for 51 yards, an average of 25.5 yards. Bad inside protection allowed a Carney extra point to be blocked. Thomas Morstead did not have any touchbacks on kickoffs.
In a more competitive game, the porous special teams play would have gotten the Saints beat. It must be cleaned up. That said, the Saints beat the Giants at their own game, playing keep-away from an offense that is used to dominating the line-of-scrimmage and owning the football. New Orleans kept the ball for 36:07 to just 23:53 for New York.
This was a statement win. The Saints have now scored 40 or more points in three of their five victories. They lead the NFL, averaging 38.1 points per game and lead the league in yards-per-game at 430. They are a respectful 10th in points allowed at 18.6 per game, fifth against the run, allowing just 83.4 yards per contest and ninth in yards allowed, allowing 301.2 yards per game. The Saints have 12 sacks and have allowed just five.
Perhaps most importantly, the Saints have forced 15 turnovers in five games, averaging three per game. They have forced multiple turnovers in all five games this season. Conversely, New Orleans has turned it over just six times for a plus nine margin in the all important turnover ratio.
In politics, the familiar refrain is "follow the money, find the winner." In the NFL, the familiar refrain is "follow the turnover ratio, find the winner." The Saints are winning the turnover ratio by a large margin. They are consistent winners, 5-0 for the first time since 1993. The Saints collapsed to finish 8-8 that year. Barring significant injuries, that won't happen in 2009. This year's Saints are a "giant" leap over the '93 team in talent. I am beginning to suspect that they will far out stripe that team in accomplishment as well.
Re: Saints Beat New York With GIANT Effort
Actually it may have been a win with a giant effort, but the Saints made it look effortless.
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