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saint5221 12-12-2003 12:27 AM

KFFL Saints Week 15 analysis
 
New Orleans Saints Week 15 Analysis

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS VS. NEW YORK GIANTS

The New Orleans Saints entered the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the possibility of running the table and making the playoffs.ÂÂÂ*Tampa Bay had just come off of an upset at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the defense hadn’t produced anywhere near as well as it had in the past.ÂÂÂ*Add on top of that the fact that New Orleans had beaten Tampa three times in a row and was playing at home in front of an excited crowd.ÂÂÂ*Just like the Saints of the last three decades, they gave away the game with three fumbles, a blocked punt, and dropping sure touchdowns.

In a game that was vital to a team in terms of making the playoffs, it is hard to imagine a team laying an egg as bad as the Saints did last week.ÂÂÂ*Tampa Bay’s main objective was to stop RB Deuce McAllister and make QB Aaron Brooks beat them.ÂÂÂ*While completing 12 of his first 15 passes, the last drop was the beginning of a dizzying downward spiral.ÂÂÂ*Leading 7-0, Brooks threw a perfect pass into WR Joe Horn’s hands with about three minutes left in the first half.ÂÂÂ*Horn dropped the pass at the goal line, and that was the beginning of the end.ÂÂÂ*On the next play, Brooks fumbled.ÂÂÂ*Tampa Bay recovered and advanced it to the 37-yard line.ÂÂÂ*After scoring a touchdown and stopping the Saints on their next possession, Tampa Bay blocked a punt and returned it to the one-yard line with under 30 seconds left in the half.ÂÂÂ*A touchdown toss to DT Warren Sapp ended a surprising two minutes where the Saints went from a potential 14-0 lead to a 14-7 deficit at halftime.

PASSING MATCH UP – QUARTERBACKS

Saints QB Aaron Brooks started the game nearly perfect and ended it with respectable passing statistics.ÂÂÂ*The seven sacks and three lost fumbles were instrumental in the loss and in fact, Brooks leads the NFL in fumbles lost this year.ÂÂÂ*It was devastating enough that head coach Jim Haslett, uttered words that he hasn’t said since Brooks has started: he may get benched if it continues.ÂÂÂ*Brooks finished 20 of 30 for 238 yards and 1 TD.ÂÂÂ*He also had four yards on his sole carry.ÂÂÂ*With the threat of being benched, it should be interesting to see how Brooks responds.

In the last four games, Brooks has averaged 219 passing yards, 0.75 passing TDs, 0.5 rushing TDs and 0.5 INTs a game.ÂÂÂ*The running game was limited against Tampa Bay and the passing game wasn’t able to make up the difference.

In the past four games, the New York Giants has given up 253 yards passing per game to opposing QBs, and they have yielded 1.75 TDs a game during the same span.ÂÂÂ*The Giants’ defense against opposing QBs is the third worst in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed.ÂÂÂ*They have suffered tremendously and have been a severe disappointment in their defense against the pass.ÂÂÂ*

RUSHING MATCH UP - RUNNING BACKS

Saints RB Deuce McAllister was held under 100 yards rushing for the first time in 10 weeks.ÂÂÂ*The Bucs were intent on stopping him, and they succeeded.ÂÂÂ*He finished the game with 22 attempts for 69 yards and 0 TDs.ÂÂÂ*He also had three receptions for 19 yards.ÂÂÂ*The holes that were created in past weeks weren’t there, and there were too many defenders around him to break through the tackles.ÂÂÂ*

In the last four games, McAllister has averaged 148 yards rushing, 41 yards receiving and 1.25 TDs a game.ÂÂÂ*He is the primary weapon in the offense, and the team’s success hinges on his performance.ÂÂÂ*During the same time period, he has been the utilized on 42 percent of the plays with 127, and this includes 43 percent of the red zone plays where he has been targeted 15 times, and four times were inside the 5-yard line.ÂÂÂ*He continues to be a long run threat.

The Giants are average in defending the run over the past four games.ÂÂÂ*During that span, they have given up 108 rushing yards, 51 yards receiving and 1.5 TDs a game to RBs.ÂÂÂ*This group has had problems defending the run, and McAllister can exploit that weakness.ÂÂÂ*McAllister is one of the best backs in the league.

Saints RB Lamar Smith was the backup and he entered the game to get one attempt and he gained 17 yards on it.ÂÂÂ*He is the primary backup and will play whenever McAllister needs a breather.ÂÂÂ*McAllister will continue to shoulder an increased amount of the offensive load even though he rarely goes out of the game anyway.

The FB in the Saints’ offense is Terrelle Smith, and he is a non-factor when it comes to production proved by the one reception for three yards against the Buccaneers.ÂÂÂ*Smith has no carries and only six receptions for 28 yards this season.

RECEIVING MATCH UP PART I - WIDE RECEIVERS

The complaining that top wide receiver Joe Horn has done the past few weeks obviously paid off.ÂÂÂ*He was the target on a lot of pass plays and it was evident that Brooks kept his eye on him most of the game.ÂÂÂ*WR Donte Stallworth is still out of action and may be done for the year, so opposing defenses will be able to stress stopping Horn in the future.ÂÂÂ*Neither WRs Jerome Pathon nor Michael Lewis played significant roles against the Buccaneers either.

WR Joe Horn finished the game against the Bucs with nine receptions for 118 yards and no TDs.ÂÂÂ*Despite the vastly improved statistics, the dropped touchdown was extremely costly and it is something that damaged the team.ÂÂÂ*Over the last four games, he has averaged 56 yards and 0 TDs a game.ÂÂÂ*He has been the target in 12 percent of the plays (35 targets), and he has been targeted five times in the red zone, which accounts for 14 percent of the chances.

WR Jerome Pathon continues to start and put up average numbers.ÂÂÂ*His production has decreased the past few weeks with the increased workload of McAllister.ÂÂÂ*Over the past four weeks, he has been the target on 8.2 percent of the offensive plays with 25 opportunities, including one red zone chance to account for 2.8 percent of the red zone offense.ÂÂÂ*In his last four games, Pathon has averaged 2.8 catches for 26 yards per game without a TD.ÂÂÂ*While he is the starter, Brooks tends to spread the ball to the receivers, TEs and McAllister if Horn isn’t open.

There is some question as to whether WRs Donte Stallworth will be available to play, but WR Michael Lewis should be available again.ÂÂÂ*Lewis didn’t have any receptions against Tampa Bay, but he was out there as the No. 3 receiver.ÂÂÂ*Outside of them, the options are Derrick Lewis, a recent addition from the practice squad, and rookie WR Talman Gardner.ÂÂÂ*Neither Gardner nor Lewis is expected to provide a lot of output, and the questions surrounding Stallworth and Lewis are too big

The Giants are the third worst team in the NFL in defending wide receivers with 724 yards or 181 yards per game. They are also giving up an average of 1 TD and 14 receptions a game during the same span to opposing receivers.

RECEIVING MATCH UP PART II - TIGHT ENDS

TE Boo Williams continued where he left off against the Redskins as he scored another touchdown.ÂÂÂ*Williams finished the game against the Buccaneers with four receptions for 59 yards and 1 TD.ÂÂÂ*He didn’t block as well, but his receiving output has been very solid in his three games as a starter.ÂÂÂ*He really only became a receiving threat over the last two games, when starting TE Ernie Conwell went down with an injury.ÂÂÂ*Since that time, Williams has averaged 5.3 catches for 71 yards and 1 TD per game.ÂÂÂ*Williams has been the target of 24 plays or 7.9 percent of the plays over the last four weeks.

The Giants are one of the best teams in the NFL in giving up yards to TEs.ÂÂÂ*Over the past four games, they have given up an average of 22 yards receiving and 0.25 TDs a game to opposing TEs.ÂÂÂ*The linebacking corps and safeties have been very effective in neutralizing the TE.

Saints TEs Walter Rasby and Zack Hilton have not been consistent factors in the offense with very limited production and opportunities due to the focus on other players.

KICKING MATCH UP

The Giants have been an above average team against opposing kickers recently.ÂÂÂ*In the last four games, they have averaged 1 FGs on 1.5 attempts and 2.75 PATs a game.ÂÂÂ*That translates to the opportunity for opposing PKs of only 5.75 points per game.ÂÂÂ*Their defense overall has been disappointing this year, and it isn’t the force that it has been in year’s past.

PK John Carney was 0-for-1 in FGAs against Tampa and 1-for-1 on PAT attempts.ÂÂÂ*The offense has shown some improvement, but Carney’s accuracy has limited his production.ÂÂÂ*He has averaged 1 FG and 2 PATs per game over the past four weeks, scoring 5 points per game.


DEFENSIVE MATCH UP

With Michael Lewis back, the return game got a boost and it was evident.ÂÂÂ*He is a threat to score at any time, and opposing kickers have to avoid him.ÂÂÂ*In addition, the Saints defense has improved, but the run defense still suffers somewhat.ÂÂÂ*In the past four games, the Saints are averaging 1 INT, 0.75 fumble recoveries and 1.25 sacks per game.

The Giants are averaging 1 INT, 1.25 fumbles and 4.5 sacks a game to opposing defenses the past four games.ÂÂÂ*On top of the high sack total and occasional turnover, Giants QB Jesse Palmer will make his first NFL start at quarterback on primetime television in front of a national audience.ÂÂÂ*The Superdome can be an imposing place to play, which could further complicate matters for the Giants offense.ÂÂÂ*


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