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Rivalry has lost its gusto......

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Man, I wish I had posted this before the game today. The last paragraph says a lot. Rivalry has lost its gusto this year Saints/Falcons game not what it once was Sunday October 19, 2003 By Jeff Duncan Staff writer ...

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Old 10-19-2003, 07:44 PM   #1
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Rivalry has lost its gusto......

Man, I wish I had posted this before the game today. The last paragraph says a lot.
Rivalry has lost its gusto this year

Saints/Falcons game not what it once was


Sunday October 19, 2003


By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

ATLANTA -- The Saints-Falcons rivalry has fallen far in one year: Even Joe Horn can't get excited about it.

Local media representatives, while previewing today's noon game at the Georgia Dome, did their best to cajole the loquacious Saints receiver this week. But Horn didn't sound-bite.


"I'm going to downplay it," Horn said. "All that jibber-jawing, 'he said, I said.' You won't be getting that from (No.) 87 this year."

"Hollywood" has gone off the record.

And the Saints-Falcons game has gone off-Broadway.

Only a year ago, white-hot hype surrounded the rivalry. The NFL promoted both Saints-Falcons games heavily. The showdown between quarterback cousins Aaron Brooks and Mike Vick headlined national pregame shows. Trash talk between the two sides heightened the intensity.

Twelve months, nine losses and one well-documented injury have combined to mute the hoopla. Vick is out with a fractured leg. The Falcons are 1-5. The Saints are 2-4.

"They're struggling right now, and we're struggling," said Horn, who ignited the rivalry last season when he said the Falcons weren't worthy of being called a rival of the Saints. "We're desperate for a win. They're desperate for a win. There's not too much to say."

The Falcons enter today's matchup in a five-game losing streak. After Vick fractured his leg in the preseason, Atlanta upended Dallas in the opener; then everything fell apart.

The defense is ranked last in the NFL, allowing nearly 402 yards per game. The offense is almost as bad. The Falcons have converted an NFL-low 23.2 percent of their third downs and have committed 12 turnovers.

In their last four losses, the Falcons have been outscored 129-39. They gained three first downs and 38 total yards in the second half of a 36-0 loss to St. Louis on Monday night.

"It is very disappointing," Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Brooking said. "It is frustrating. . . . We had high expectations for ourselves. We obviously haven't met those, or come close to meeting those. I can't sit here and make excuses. We haven't gotten the job done. It sucks to be a part of it. It really does."

The Falcons have battled distractions off the field as well. Coach Dan Reeves suspended cornerback Tyrone Williams for one game after he was involved in an altercation with an assistant coach. Injured cornerback Juran Bolden was arrested last weekend and charged with driving a stolen vehicle, marijuana possession and, pending test results, could be charged with possession of a banned substance. In the midst of the losing streak, Brooking criticized some teammates for "finger-pointing" and "bad attitudes"

"We haven't reacted to (adversity) well," Reeves said. "That's what has been more disappointing than anything."

But the Saints are wary of an uprising this week. The coaching staff expects the crafty Reeves to pull out all stops today. He changed starting quarterbacks this week, going to second-year player Kurt Kittner in place of struggling Doug Johnson. The Saints also expect to see backup Woody Dantzler.

"I respect him immensely, as much as anyone in this league," Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi said of Reeves, who is 7-3 against the Saints. "He knows us very, very well. It has always been a very difficult preparation for Atlanta."

While losing has seemingly splintered the Falcons, it has appeared to galvanize the Saints, who have managed to hold things together after a miserable 1-4 start.

Offensive linemen Victor Riley and LeCharles Bentley tangled in a locker room fight this week, but Saints officials downplayed the incident. Coach Jim Haslett said he talked to Riley and Bentley after the fracas and that the issue has been settled. Haslett said the pair dined together Thursday at the weekly dinner shared by offensive linemen.

"Haslett has instilled in us that we are family," Brooks said. "No matter what happens outside of the locker room, we are still a family wanting to come to work together, and we are the only people that we have."

The return of several injured players and a 20-13 victory against the Bears last week has bolstered the Saints' confidence as they enter a critical four-game stretch against NFC South opponents. Pro Bowl return specialist Michael Lewis is expected to play today for the first time in three weeks after injuring his groin.

"We're coming together right on pace," linebacker Derrick Rodgers said. "This team is right where it needs to be. It's up to us keep it going in the right direction. We still believe in our heart that this team is a playoff team, and we're not going to settle for anything else."
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Old 10-19-2003, 08:04 PM   #2
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Rivalry has lost its gusto......

hahaha....sorry couldn\'t finish that one.... I know good close games are fun, but who cares about a rivalry if your team is one that\'s delivering the whomp ass.
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