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Saints' passing game clicking at right time

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Their fans like to say the New Orleans Saints are flying beneath the radar, but that’s simply not true. There might have been a bit of turbulence on takeoff, and the rise to 30 points a game took longer than ...

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Old 12-11-2010, 11:13 PM   #1
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Their fans like to say the New Orleans Saints are flying beneath the radar, but that’s simply not true.

There might have been a bit of turbulence on takeoff, and the rise to 30 points a game took longer than expected. But in the last month, the bell has sounded indicating the Saints are free to move about the cabin, all over the field and maybe even straight back to the Super Bowl.

“Just kind of hitting our stride,’’ New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. “Midseason form is what you guys like to call it. But we’re getting into crunch time here. This is December. These are the games you want to remember. These are the games that kind of define your season in a lot of ways where you fit into the whole playoff picture. You want to play your best football in this stretch.’’

That’s precisely what the Saints have been doing. They’ve won their last five games and scored 30 or more points in each of the last four games. Brees has thrown for more than 300 yards in four of the last five games, and Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson are breaking free with regularity on deep routes.

It’s starting to look a lot like last season, when the Saints were lighting up scoreboards and winning the Super Bowl. The early-season panic that swept Bourbon Street when the Saints were looking only ordinary on offense has faded with each touchdown in the five-game winning streak. The realization is setting in that the 9-3 Saints are right on the heels of the 10-2 Falcons in the NFC South.

The two teams play each other Dec. 27 in a game that could go a long way in deciding the division. But there are things to take care of before that. The Saints host St. Louis on Sunday and travel to Baltimore next week. The Falcons are pretty much guaranteed a win at Carolina on Sunday, and they have to fly cross-country to Seattle next week.

All the Saints can do at this point is take care of themselves, and recent events have put them in a prime position to do this. In some ways, the Saints are in a better spot now than they were a year ago. Last season, they started 13-0, lost their final three regular-season games and sort of limped into the playoffs.

This season, at least on offense, the Saints appear to be headed for the peak -- or at least deep down the field -- at the right moment. The deep passing game is prospering when it matters most. Meachem has at least one catch for more than 50 yards in the last two games. Henderson, who had a 57-yard catch in a Thanksgiving victory at Dallas, also seems to be emerging at the right time.

Why is the deep passing game suddenly working so well? Coach Sean Payton points first to Brees.

“He’s playing at a high level,’’ Payton said. “He’s playing very efficiently. Each week we keep looking at opportunities for our players and it varies where the shot plays go. Meachem had a few this past week and Devery at Dallas. It’s something in each plan where we want to aggressively get the ball down the field.’’

Early in the year, when Brees and the offense weren’t putting up huge numbers, conspiracy theories were flying. That's understandable -- Brees was on the cover of this year’s “Madden’’ video game, and New Orleans is a town that believes in voodoo and curses. Theories were also flying that Brees was struggling because he banged up his knee in a home loss to Atlanta and wore a brace for a few weeks. There were even rumors that Brees was playing despite major knee damage.

But all that was untrue, and the talk of the “Madden Curse’’ has pretty much disappeared over the last month. Brees is back to the Brees of old, and the strongest proof of that came this week when the quarterback was asked whether he feels he’s been playing better. Keep in mind, there generally is not a person more critical of Brees than Brees. But even the quarterback is willing to admit he believes he’s playing better these days.

“I do,’’ Brees said. “I feel like early on for whatever reason some of the breaks weren’t going my way. I wasn’t quite as sharp as I wanted to be. I think a lot of that was timing and just getting into it and getting going again.’’


Saints' passing game clicking at right time - NFC South Blog - ESPN

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