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Halo 10-15-2009 12:43 PM

Bad byes: Surging Saints need to reverse trend
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To continue saying bye-bye to their bad history, the Saints need to come off their bye week and beat the New York Giants.

Obviously, it won’t be easy. The Giants (5-0) have held three consecutive opponents to fewer than 200 total yards and fewer than 100 passing yards, an almost-unheard of trifecta regardless of the quality of competition (0-5 Tampa Bay, 0-5 Kansas City, 1-4 Oakland). Eli Manning and company also rank among the NFL’s top 10 in every major offensive statistical category.

Still, New Orleans has to find a way to win this early matchup of undefeated NFC powers in the Superdome. For whatever reason, the Saints have been horrible after open dates under coach Sean Payton, losing at home to Baltimore, 35-22, in 2006, at home to Carolina, 16-13, in 2007 and at Atlanta, 34-20, in 2008.

The worst part was not that they lost, but how they lost.

They committed five turnovers against the Ravens, falling behind 35-7 before scoring two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That meltdown came after a 5-1 start.

After starting 0-3 in 2007, they blew a 13-6 fourth-quarter lead in a must-win game against the struggling Panthers. Carolina finished 7-9.

Drew Brees threw an interception on his first pass against Atlanta last year, one of three on the day as the defensively challenged Falcons went ahead 27-6 in the fourth quarter.

That setback extended the Saints’ losing streak after byes to five, placing them in unfortunate, exclusive company. Only Bay Area bottom-feeders Oakland (five) and San Francisco (six) are on similar skids, and they rarely won at all from 2004 to 2008. The Raiders’ best record in that span was 5-11. The 49ers had losing records all five years.

New Orleans endured only two losing seasons from 2004 to 2008. The Saints’ post-bye opponents combined for a sterling record of 53-27, but you’d think they would have won at least once.

Outside of Oakland, San Francisco and New Orleans, no NFL team has a current streak of more than two losses in a row after an open date. The league’s overall post-bye record is 309-276-1.

Thinking the Saints’ problems might have been the by(e)-product of overwork, Payton lightened the practices last week and told the players to enjoy their down time.

Whether Payton is right or wrong, the turnaround has to start with Brees, who tossed nine interceptions in his three post-bye games compared to 39 picks in his other 49 games with the Saints.

Maybe the offense lost its rhythm with the change in routine. Maybe the opponents just played incredibly well.

Brees is due for a big performance anyway after having the first full-two-game stretch with fewer than 200 passing yards in his time with the Saints. They won with defense and the running game against Buffalo and the New York Jets, but they will need the full repertoire to beat the Giants.

The last time New Orleans won four in a row to start a season, it improved to 5-0 in 1993 before the dreaded bye. Pittsburgh whacked the Saints 37-14 the following week, and they never recovered, finishing 8-8.

Through four games in 2009, they have rendered history irrelevant.

Winning this Sunday would be the next step.

Linkback: The Examiner

saintsfan1976 10-15-2009 12:51 PM

Re: Bad byes: Surging Saints need to reverse trend
Get to Eli and we win.

Rugby Saint II 10-15-2009 01:10 PM

Re: Bad byes: Surging Saints need to reverse trend
Bye bye bad byes. :pink:

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