The Six shooter....
Read this close. Is Haz really this pathetic? This just cuts me to the bone.
Manning throws six touchdown passes in thumping of hometown team
Monday September 29, 2003
By Jeff Duncan
Normally it takes a long losing season for a team to complete the five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
The Saints and their frustrated fans experienced all five in a shocking 55-21 blowout loss to Indianapolis on Sunday night.
The spectators came to the Superdome for the primetime television showdown denying the team was as bad as it looked in blowout losses to Seattle and Tennessee during a disappointing 1-2 start.
They left accepting this grim fact: The Saints are a bewitched and bewildered football team that suddenly finds itself on the brink of disintegration. A season that four weeks ago seemed filled with hope and promise has spiraled, buried beneath an avalanche of turnovers, injuries and enemy touchdowns.
"It's embarrassing to all of us as players," said Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks, who committed four turnovers and suffered through one of the worst games of his four-year career. "It's embarrassing to everyone involved in the Saints organization. It's embarrassing to the fans."
It was the second-most points allowed by the Saints in team history. Only a 62-7 loss to Atlanta on Sept. 16, 1973 was worse.
The loss was the second worst of Jim Haslett's four-year tenure as coach, dating to a 38-0 setback to end the 2001 season. It also marked the sixth setback in the team's last seven regular-season games, including the final three games of last season.
"We had some meltdowns in a lot of different phases," Saints wide receiver Joe Horn said. "We didn't do well at all in any phase of the game. We have to go back and practice Wednesday and try to find out what we have to do to make it better. I can't put my finger on exactly what we need to do to win football games because I will be speaking for 52 other guys."
On this night, Colts quarterback Peyton Manning did most of the embarrassing. He riddled his hometown team for a team-record six touchdown passes and 314 passing yards.
Playing without leading rusher Edgerrin James, who was sidelined with an injured back, Manning picked on the Saints' depleted defense at will. He completed 20 of 25 passes with no interceptions to finish with a perfect 158.3 passer efficiency rating. He threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, one in the second and three in the third before yielding to backup Brock Huard with a full quarter to play.
"They had some people hurt," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We felt that they would have to take some chances and come out and blitz a little to stop us. We picked some up and hit some balls early. Once we got that momentum, it was like a shark in the water and we kept going."
Three of Manning's touchdown passes went to Marvin Harrison, who had six catches for 158 yards, and four of them were set up directly by Saints turnovers, all by Brooks. The fourth-year quarterback threw an interception on the game's second play that put the Saints in a 7-0 hole less than three minutes into action. He fumbled on the first offensive play from scrimmage of the second half to set up another touchdown and douse any comeback hopes the Saints' harbored.
After his fourth turnover, an unforced fumble that Dwight Freeney returned 19 yards for a touchdown and a 55-13 lead, backup Todd Bouman replaced Brooks to the sarcastic cheers of the few hundred fans who remained.
"We've got a lot of issues on this team," Brooks said. "I have no excuses. I didn't play as well as I should have and neither did anyone else. We're not playing with confidence. Coming out of training camp, we were one of the best teams we looked at. Now nobody wants to look at us."
said Haslett, whose postgame press conference lasted less than a minute. "We didn't play well." The defense, already playing without five starters, lost two more. Safety Tebucky Jones left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury. Kenny Smith was sidelined in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
In the two games since losing three defensive starters to injury against Houston, the Saints have allowed nine touchdowns, four field goals and forced just three punts in 20 defensive possessions.
In posting its first win in New Orleans since 1973 and ending a five-game losing streak in the series, Indianapolis scored on eight of its 10 series during the first three quarters.
The Saints (1-3), who play at Carolina next week, saw their injured list lengthen considerably. Left tackle Wayne Gandy (hamstring), return specialist Michael Lewis (groin), right guard LeCharles Bentley (knee) and tight end Ernie Conwell (knee) were sidelined.
"There's nothing we can do about the injuries," Haslett said. "It's a heck of a challenge. We've got to stick together and get through this."
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