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Saints Sprint Past Patriots to Remain Unbeaten

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; NEW ORLEANS — The last time the New England Patriots played at the Louisiana Superdome, they won their first Super Bowl and launched a dynasty. New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton used a Pro Bowl fishing trip three years ago ...

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Old 12-01-2009, 10:00 AM   #1
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NEW ORLEANS — The last time the New England Patriots played at the Louisiana Superdome, they won their first Super Bowl and launched a dynasty. New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton used a Pro Bowl fishing trip three years ago to quiz Bill Belichick about the details of his seasons, the practice schedules, the personnel moves, hoping to divine the secrets that had won the Patriots two more Super Bowls since that stunner eight years ago.


The Saints' Drew Brees passed for 371 yards and threw five touchdown passes to five different receivers.
Lesson learned. On Monday, with playoff-level excitement in the city, the Saints eclipsed the Patriots as the N.F.L.’s most explosive team, whipping them, 38-17, and keeping the Saints’ undefeated season alive at 11-0. With the Colts also at 11-0, this is the deepest into a season two teams have gone undefeated. Two years ago, that was the Patriots. Not anymore. They are 7-4 and still lead the American Football Conference East by two games. But with victories over only two teams with winning records and a flailing defense that gave up a combined 73 points to the Colts and the Saints, the Patriots look vulnerable against the league’s elite teams. For the Saints, though, this could be a franchise-altering victory, one that finally vanquishes their long-held reputations as losers.

“It only counts for one win, but emotionally these types of wins can mean a little bit more,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “They know how to win, and they do things the right way. Anytime you can win and win that way, it builds confidence for you.”

The Saints don’t need much more of a confidence boost. They entered the game as the league’s highest scoring team — the Patriots were second — but they blew through the Patriots’ defense with stunning ease, racking up one big play after another. Brees completed 18 of 23 passes — a staggering 78 percent — for 371 yards, an average of 20 yards per completion. He had five touchdown passes to five different receivers and finished with a perfect rating of 158.3.

“I thought he was outstanding tonight; I thought he was special,” Payton said. “Let’s just say he’s playing real well.”

Belichick had been concerned about the Saints’ big-play scoring threat last week, but this was worse than anything he could have imagined, a clinic in the quick-strike offense that left the Patriots’ defense flatfooted and the offense unable to keep up, even though the Saints’ secondary was starting two backup cornerbacks and for most of the game relied on two 30-something cornerbacks, Chris McAlister and Mike McKenzie, who were not even with the team two weeks ago.The Patriots were put on notice on the first play from scrimmage, a 33-yard pass from Drew Brees to Devery Henderson. That first drive ended in a field goal, but that was just prelude to what was to come.

After the Patriots drove methodically for a touchdown — using unfamiliar two-tight-end sets and power running by Laurence Maroney for the spread-happy offense — the Saints took off. Brady threw a terrible interception on the Patriots’ next possession after he was flushed out of the pocket and threw while off-balance, failing to see McKenzie cross in front of Randy Moss. Payton called that a pivotal moment in the game. That drive included a 26-yard Pierre Thomas run and then a screen pass to Thomas that, after four missed tackles, he turned into an 18-yard touchdown.

With left tackle Sebastian Vollmer out, Brady was under pressure for much of the night, and it showed in the offense’s repeated inability to get into a rhythm. That led to short drives that put the Saints back on the field frequently, the same problem the Patriots faced in their fourth-quarter collapse against the Colts. As soon as the Saints got back on the field, they scorched the Patriots with one play when, on first down, cornerback Jonathan Wilhite was sent on a corner blitz. Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey blocked Wilhite, but Wilhite had left Henderson to run alone down the right side. When safety Brandon Meriweather bit on Brees’s pump fake to the opposite side of the field, it was too late for him to help in coverage and Henderson was so wide open that he had time to stop and wait for the ball to arrive. It did, for a 75-yard touchdown, the Saints’ longest play from scrimmage this season, and it gave the Saints a 17-7 lead.

The Patriots again took the slow road on their next drive — their intention was to keep the Saints’ offense off the field as long as possible, similar to the strategy opponents employ against the Colts — but when they managed just a field goal, the floodgates were opened. Brees unveiled a beauty of a play-design on the next drive, giving two pump fakes to screens before hitting tight end David Thomas down the middle of the field for a 25-yard gain. On the next play, Brees found Robert Meachem for a 38-yard touchdown against Wilhite, who was later benched.

On and on it went. The Patriots missed a long field-goal attempt and scored a touchdown in the third quarter, providing a short-lived glimmer of life. But the Saints countered immediately with a 68-yard pass to Marques Colston that set up another touchdown. It was no surprise that when the Patriots faced fourth-and-4 at the New Orleans’ 10-yard line late in the third quarter, Belichick showed his lack of confidence in the defense again — shades of the Indianapolis game — and elected to go for the first down. Brady’s pass to Moss was incomplete, and there was the recently signed McKenzie on the coverage, an apt reminder that every move the Saints have made lately has gone right. By the end of the third quarter, the Patriots trailed by 14 points despite having held the ball for 10 minutes longer than the Saints.

“They were obviously the better team tonight,” Belichick said. “It wasn’t a competitive game like we thought it would be or like we needed it to be. We have to do a lot better than we did. We have to do a lot better to compete with a team of this caliber.”

That may come another day. But after Saints safety Darren Sharper intercepted Brady with seven minutes remaining, the Patriots made an extraordinary admission of defeat: they took Brady out of the game when they took the field again.

In 2006, when the Saints returned to the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina, it was called a miracle season, with the Saints winning 11 games and reaching the National Football Conference championship game. These Saints have already won 11 games, with five more to go. The miracles might be just beginning.

“I don’t think about how good we’ve been,” Brees said. “I think about how good we can be. We have played some pretty good games. We have not peaked.”

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Old 12-01-2009, 10:24 AM   #2
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Re: Saints Sprint Past Patriots to Remain Unbeaten

Drew was special last night. The defense played lights out and special teams were above average. That adds up to a very big win.
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Old 12-02-2009, 02:45 PM   #3
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Re: Saints Sprint Past Patriots to Remain Unbeaten

Wow - if they have not peaked yet I can't wait unitl they do (how about early February??!)
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