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QBREES9 11-15-2009 11:01 PM

Fourth quarter belongs to Saints
METAIRIE — You don’t see New Orleans Saints players holding up four fingers at the end of the third quarter the way high-school and college players tend to signify that they expect to own the fourth quarter. But more so than any other team in the NFL this season, the Saints have owned the final period.

They have outscored their opponents, 91-18, in the fourth quarter, giving them the largest fourth-quarter scoring margin and the fewest fourth-quarter points allowed.

“We don’t hold up the fingers or have the band striking up the fight song,” safety Roman Harper said, “but we know what time it is when we get to the fourth quarter. That’s the most important quarter and you’ve got to be able to finish strong in the NFL.”

“Finish strong” has been the Saints’ mantra since the offseason. They wear T-shirts and wristbands that bear those words. They talked about it during offseason workouts and practices, in mini-camp and training camp, during meetings, in huddles, you name it.

Strong finishes are a big reason they are 8-0 going into their game at St. Louis on Sunday. Sometimes they’ve started well, sometimes they’ve started not so well, but in every case they have finished strong.

Only three teams have scored against New Orleans in the fourth quarter and one of those three, Philadelphia, managed only a safety that quarterback Drew Brees chose to take for strategic purposes. Atlanta scored six fourth-quarter points, but the Saints scored seven in a 35-27 victory. Only the New York Giants have outscored New Orleans in the fourth (10-7), but all that did was make a lopsided score seem a little less lopsided at the end.

“A lot of it is conditioning — how good of shape you’re in,” Brees said, “because obviously the game wears you down gradually as you go along for the first three quarters. Typically the teams that are well-conditioned — both mentally and physically — end up succeeding in the fourth quarter.

“And I think it’s very much an attitude as well, just that we’re going to play our best football when it counts. When we really need to, we’re going to make the plays that we need to make to win the game in the fourth quarter.”

The Saints never trailed during their first five games, so they generally had the advantage of playing with the lead in the fourth quarter. Only the Bills were even in the fourth quarter and that didn’t last long as New Orleans sprinted to the finish line in a 27-7 triumph.

But in the last three games, the Saints have been in much more competitive games in the fourth quarter, and still they have controlled the final 15 minutes.

They trailed by 10 at Miami entering the fourth and put together a 22-0 blitz to prevail, 46-34. They had a seven-point lead entering the fourth against the Falcons, and were tied at 20 with Carolina entering the fourth last Sunday, and scored the final 10 points.

“I think it starts with each man in this locker room having faith in not only the system and the coaches, but also the guy next to him,” tackle Jon Stinchcomb said. “So even if we’re behind we know we’re capable of pulling it out and winning the game.”

Aside from conditioning, the other factors most often cited are that the Saints playing better defense than in the past and being more balanced on offense. New Orleans has given up just one touchdown in the fourth quarter, to the Giants. | Saints | Fourth quarter belongs to Saints — Baton Rouge, LA

saintsrule 11-16-2009 12:30 AM

Re: Fourth quarter belongs to Saints
It seems like they are in better shape than the other teams.

Rugby Saint II 11-17-2009 03:34 PM

Re: Fourth quarter belongs to Saints
The fourth quarter is certainly good for the Saints to score points. Lately the Saints have been slow to get going, so they have had to score late in the game. Better late than never.;)

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