this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans Saints bracing for 'real deal' Arizona Cardinals By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune January 11, 2010, 6:00AM New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' reaction to the Arizona Cardinals' 51-45 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the first ...
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New Orleans Saints bracing for 'real deal' Arizona Cardinals
By Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune
January 11, 2010, 6:00AM
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' reaction to the Arizona Cardinals' 51-45 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the NFC playoffs Sunday was pretty much the same as everyone else's.
"Unbelievable," said Brees, who watched the second half of the game at home after the Saints wrapped up their practice and meetings at the team facility earlier in the day.
The highest-scoring playoff game in NFL history was a crowd-pleaser, to say the least, but it was especially compelling to the Saints and their fans since the winning team earned a trip to the Superdome on Saturday to face the Saints in Round 2.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Now the opponent is set, too - the NFC West champion Cardinals (11-6), who reached the Super Bowl last year before falling in the final minutes to the NFL champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
"They're the real deal," said Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, who watched the Cardinals' offense once again save its best for the postseason Sunday, rolling up 531 yards and six offensive touchdowns before, ironically enough, winning the game on a defensive touchdown return in overtime. "Obviously that offense looks like it's firing on all cylinders."
The Cardinals' defense wasn't as efficient, though, as they allowed 35 points and more than 300 passing yards in the second half alone while surrendering a 21-point lead to Green Bay.
But while many have already suggested that Brees must have been "licking his chops" during the offensive shootout, knowing he was going to get a shot at one of those defenses, Brees said that wasn't the case.
"No, you know, people say that kind of thing, obviously," Brees said. "But Arizona's going to go back to the drawing board, I'm sure, and say, 'Hey, these are the mistakes we made. This is what we need to correct.' Just like we went back to the drawing board during the bye week to fix what we needed to get better at at the end of the season.
"We're all going to make our improvements, and you never know what type of game it's going to be. You just know that you have to take advantage of every opportunity you're going to get."
Brees was obviously impressed with the performance of Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw more touchdown passes (5) than he did incomplete passes (4).
As for the Cardinals' defense, which forced three turnovers but allowed 493 yards, Brees said they appeared to get out of their element while spending the second half in a prevent-style defense.
"I think in this game, maybe just because they got up by 21 points in the third quarter, they kind of started playing a lot of prevent, playing a lot of dime defense, somewhat conservative to try and not give up the big plays. And Green Bay was obviously able to make some of those plays," said Brees, who said he'll have to learn a lot more about the Cardinals defense on tape after not having faced them since the 2008 preseason and not having seen much of them on film this year.
"I know their safety, Adrian Wilson, is a Pro Bowl player, and their safety, Antrel Rolle is another very talented player. And the young cornerback, (Dominique) Rodgers-Cromartie is super talented," Brees said. "Now it's a matter of studying a lot of film and learning a lot more."
Statistically speaking, the Cardinals seemed to be the best possible playoff matchup for the Saints heading into the opening round of the playoffs.
They ranked 20th in the NFL on defense in the regular season, and they ranked 14th on offense, thanks in part to the league's 28th-ranked rushing attack.
But that was the case last year, too, and the Cardinals turned into a different team once the playoffs started. Warner, in particular, is one of the most successful postseason quarterbacks in NFL history.
Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb said that is both a reason to be wary of the Cardinals - and to be inspired by them, as well.
The Saints (13-3) are hoping to prove they can "turn it back on" themselves in the playoffs after finishing the regular season on a three-game losing streak.
"I think there were a lot of people that had counted (the Cardinals) out just based on last week," Stinchcomb said, referring to the Arizona's 33-7 loss to the same Packers team in Week 17, though most of the starters didn't play in that game.
"Any time you're in the playoffs, you just never know," Stinchcomb said. "So you just have to put your best foot forward. And Arizona is obviously a team that has been able to do just that."
"They have been the example of that, last year and this year," Brees agreed. "I think that's because they've got some good leadership, just like I feel like we've got some good leadership."
Much like the Saints' high-powered and versatile offense, Warner is surrounded by some dangerous offensive weapons, starting with receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Boldin did not play in Sunday's game and will be questionable for Saturday's game against the Saints, but clearly his backups stepped up in his absence.
Fujita said he hadn't watched the second half as of Sunday evening, but he planned to review the game more thoroughly on TiVo later in the night.
Certainly, he and the other Saints' defensive players won't be licking their chops after they see how well the Cardinals' offense played while rolling up 531 yards and six offensive touchdowns.
"I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for Kurt," Fujita said. "He's a classic rhythm quarterback. He always plays well when guys are playing good around him, he's always played well in the postseason. They've played well when they're the underdogs. So they've got a lot of things going for them.
"I know when teams have been able to get after him, that's when he's struggled in other games. But he's so smart. He reads coverages faster than anyone in the league, I think."
Fujita said he hasn't seen much film of Arizona's rookie tailback Beanie Wells yet, but he knows that Wells has been coming on strong in the second half of the season, which makes the Cardinals even more dangerous.
Fujita did point out one positive from the Cardinals' shootout win on Sunday.
"I'm glad to see it was an overtime game," he said of a victory that was probably as emotionally draining as it was physically exhausting. "And now they've got a short week to prepare."
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|01-11-2010, 10:31 AM||#2|
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Re: New Orleans Saints bracing for 'real deal' Arizona Cardinals
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|01-11-2010, 01:41 PM||#4|
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