FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY
Sunday September 28, 2003
Brian Allee-WalshSTOP THE RUN: Colts running back Edgerrin James (back) did not practice during the week and Coach Tony Dungy said it is unlikely that he will play. If James can't go, former Saints running back Ricky Williams is the likely starter. The Saints traded Williams to the Colts on Sept. 1, 2002, for a seventh-round pick in the 2003 draft. Williams has rushed twice for seven yards this season. Backups Dominic Rhodes and James Mungro have no carries.
RUN, DEUCE, RUN: After his worst game as a starter a week ago, Saints running back Deuce McAllister is expected to have his number called early and often. The best method to offset the Colts' quickness up front is to run right at their front seven and pound the ball between the tackles. Saints coach Jim Haslett has challenged the interior of his offensive line, so look for guards Kendyl Jacox and LeCharles Bentley and center Jerry Fontenot to be motivated. The Saints are 6-2 when McAllister rushes for at least 100 yards.
GET TO PEYTON: Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is the consummate pocket passer, which can make him a sitting duck for an aggressive defense. Look for Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi to turn up the heat and try to unsettle Manning by blitzing and moving defenders around. Manning can be very effective if he finds a groove. The Colts' offensive line will be without right tackle Ryan Diem (ankle). Adam Meadows is expected to replace him. The Colts are expected to carry seven linemen on their active roster. Their two reserves -- Tupe Piko and practice squad-signee Makao Freitas -- have not played a down.
COVER UP: Saints cornerback Ashley Ambrose is looking to rebound from a poor performance against Tennessee. He played left corner against the Titans, a position usually occupied by Dale Carter, who'll miss his second straight game while recovering from orbital eye surgery. Ashley and cornerback Fred Thomas are expected to have their hands full with Colts wide receivers Marvin Harrison and New Orleanian Reggie Wayne. Tight end Marcus Pollard also is a primary target. Thomas neutralized Harrison in 2001, limiting him to six receptions for 55 yards. A good pass rush will help out the secondary.
SENSE OF URGENCY: 2-2 sounds a lot better than 1-3 going into next week's game at Carolina. Haslett and his staff took responsibility for the team's poor performance against Tennessee. Now the onus falls on the players, who need to step up their play from the top of the roster to the bottom. Three of Haslett's most resounding defeats have come at the hands of AFC teams -- Oakland (2000), New England (2001) and Tennessee (2003). But the Colts are more of a finesse team, not as physical as those aforementioned teams.
I have 3 keys to this game.
Saints have to open up the offense. Let the pass open up the run.
Defense has to continue making the plays in front of them. Don\'t give up the big plays.
Saints coaching staff will have to out coach Dungy and Co. Dungy made saints look really bad the only time they\'ve played.
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