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Archive for December, 2007

Dec

30

Saints at Bears, Saints 2007 Season Ends in Familiar Place

Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Sunday, December 30, 2007 – 3:25 PM
Chicago – On the same field where the New Orleans Saints’ 2006 season came to an end, so to did their 2007 season. On a gray winter day one day shy of the New Year, the Saints fell to the Chicago Bears, 33-25.

“This was a very disappointing loss for us,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “The things that kept us from winning, turnovers and penalties, came up today and during the season.”

“Chicago was the better team today and responded each time we got back in the game,” said Payton. “Give them credit. Nobody in this locker room feels good about 7-9. We have a lot of work to do (in the off-season) and we will get started right away.”

The Saints, who needed a win and help by Dallas and Denver in the later games, instead fell victim to three costly turnovers and the big-play skills of Devin Hester, who caught a 55-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt 64-yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.

New Orleans received a huge day from rookie RB Pierre Thomas, who became the first Saints player to rush for over 100-yards and eclipse the 100-yard receiving mark in the same game. Thomas, with 105 yards on the ground and 121 yards on 12 receptions, racked up the third-highest yards from scrimmage total in team history (226 yards). The Saints’ team record is 237 yards, held by Deuce McAllister.

“I thought Pierre ran the ball and caught it very well today,” said Payton. “He finished a lot of runs and he played lights out.”

QB Drew Brees completed 35-of-60 passes for 320 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, but was sacked 3 times. WR Marques Colston had 8 receptions for 94 yards in the first half, but was forced out of the game with a wrist injury suffered late in the second quarter.

The Bears took advantage of an early interception by MLB Brian Urlacher in Saints territory and took an early 3-0 lead and then extended the lead to 10-0 before the Saints could rally and close the margin to 10-7 early in the second quarter. However after the Saints closed the gap at 10-7, the Bears struck right back with a 7-play, 63-yard drive in 3:38, capped off by a 9-yard touchdown pass from QB Kyle Orton to WR Bernard Berrian.

Saints WR Marques Colston caught his second touchdown of the afternoon with just over two minutes remaining in the first half to close the Bears lead to 17-14. But Hester struck with a 55-yard reception from Orton two plays later and extended the Bears lead once again to a two-touchdown advantage (24-14).

A wacky series ended the first half, as a Brees pass was intercepted by CB Charles Tillman at the Bears goal line. Tillman attempted to return the ball, though, and was stripped of the ball by Pierre Thomas and the loose ball was recovered by Lance Moore with :02 left. K Martin Gramatica hit a 48-yard field goal as time expired and the Saints had climbed back to within a touchdown, 24-17.

The Saints took the second half kickoff but started at their own 15 yard-line and went three plays and out. P Steve Weatherford, who had kept the ball away from Hester with pinpoint sideline, instead hit a 48 yard punt down the middle of the field that was returned 64 yards for a touchdown by Hester for the score, and following Robbie Gould’s extra point, the Bears again had a two touchdown advantage (31-17).

The scoring came to a grinding halt until late in the game when the Bears forced the Saints into a holding penalty in the end zone, which resulted in a safety and upped the lead to 33-17. The Saints came back to score a late touchdown when Pierre Thomas scored on an 11-yard pass from Brees and then scored a two-point conversion on an inside handoff.

The Saints attempted an onside kick but Chicago recovered it.

Dec

23

Resurgent McNabb leads Eagles past Saints, 38-23

By BRETT MARTEL,

AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) If Donovan McNabb keeps playing like this, those fickle Philly fans who have been calling for rookie Kevin Kolb may have to wait.

Running, throwing, and sometimes throwing on the run, McNabb accounted for 300 total yards and tossed three touchdown passes, leading the Philadelphia Eagles to a 38-23 victory Sunday that dealt a devastating blow to a New Orleans squad still clinging to playoff hopes.

“A lot of people ask a lot of questions about Donovan,” said Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, who gained 100 yards on 17 carries. “I’ve said all along, it’s going to take a full year for him to recover and be totally back. You see the way he’s running the ball down the field. He’s rounding back into being his old self and these last two weeks are proof of that.”

The Eagles (7-8) have won two straight, building on their upset of the Cowboys in Dallas a week earlier. Their triumph snapped a two-game winning streak for the Saints (7-8), who would be eliminated from playoff contention if the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins later Sunday night.

McNabb, whose 263 yards passing gave him more than 25,000 for his career, no longer showed the effects of his rehabilitation from knee surgery over the summer or an ankle sprain in midseason.

His 40-yard scramble on the third play led to a bizarre touchdown after his fumble was recovered in the end zone by receiver Kevin Curtis. McNabb also used his scrambling ability to neutralize the Saints’ pass rush and give his receivers more time to get open.

“I think teams now see the progression of me coming off the injury and seeing I’m getting my mobility back,” McNabb said. “I’m definitely feeling better and being able to get opportunities for guys by holding the ball a little bit longer.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw for 289 yards and a touchdown, but lost his best receiver when Marques Colston left the game in the first half with a chest contusion that had him spitting up blood.

Still, the Saints were in position to tie the game at 21 on the opening drive of the second half when David Patten nearly scored on a short first-down pass.

Coach Sean Payton thought Patten had crossed the goal line and challenged the ruling, but the call was upheld, setting up second-and-goal from the 1. The Eagles stuffed New Orleans on three straight running plays to preserve their one-touchdown lead, taking over possession at their own 2.

The running plays seemed like a departure for Payton, who calls a majority of passing plays and never shies away from trickery. Payton said he didn’t want to “get cute,” and Brees agreed.

“Second and goal from the 4-inch line? You should be able to put that one in. We had pounded in there two other times previously and why not again right there?” Brees said. “That was a huge turning point in the game. We score there, we tie it up, and I think it would have been a different ballgame.”

Instead, Philadelphia followed with a 15-play, 98-yard, seven-minute scoring drive that McNabb capped with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis, giving the Eagles a 31-17 lead late in the third quarter.

McNabb also had touchdown passes of 31 yards to Reggie Brown and 7 yards to Curtis. Correll Buckhalter scored the Eagles’ other touchdown on a 20-yard run in the first quarter.

Curtis had six catches for 78 yards, while Brown caught six passes for 73 yards.

Aaron Stecker scored both New Orleans touchdowns on short runs in the first half.

Both teams entered the game with highly ranked run defenses. The Eagles came in fifth in the league, giving up an average of 94.6 yards rushing, and the Saints came in eighth (97.6).

Philadelphia finished with 184 rushing yards, while New Orleans managed only 65, with Stecker gaining 49.

Still, the Saints drove inside Philadelphia’s 30 twice in the fourth quarter. Touchdowns on those possessions could have tied the game, but the Eagles forced Martin Gramatica’s field goals of 35 and 46 yards, leaving New Orleans down 31-23 with 7:19 left.

Philadelphia needed one more scoring drive to put the game away. Buckhalter’s 34-yard kickoff return gave the Eagles the ball at the New Orleans 44. McNabb got them inside the 20 with a 26-yard pass down the sideline to Curtis, then used a short pass to Westbrook to convert on third-and-2. Three plays later, McNabb found Curtis again for the score, which sent fans streaming for the exits with 2:33 to go.

“He looked great today,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said of McNabb. “He ran strong. … He played his heart out both running and throwing the ball. He had great command of the huddle.”

Notes: Saints CB Mike McKenzie left the game with a sprained right knee after he narrowly missed recovering McNabb’s fumble on the Eagles’ first TD of the game. … Eagles S Brian Dawkins left the game with what team officials termed a right foot injury. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday. … Eagles LB Omar Gaither left the game with a quad contusion. … Saints reserve running back Jamaal Branch broke his leg on a special teams play.

Dec

19

Saints shut out of Pro Bowl

No Saints players were named to the 2008 Pro Bowl roster on Tuesday, the first time they’ve been shut out of the postseason all-star game since 1980.

The Saints had a handful of worthy candidates, like quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Marques Colston and defensive end Will Smith. But none of them made the cut.

Brees landed behind quarterbacks Brett Favre, Tony Romo and Matt Hasselbeck in the voting, which was conducted by players, coaches and fans. Colston lost out to Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald, Donald Driver and Torry Holt.

Last year, the Saints earned three invitations to the Pro Bowl – Brees, Smith and offensive tackle Jammal Brown.

Posted by Mike Triplett, Times-Picayune staff writer December 18, 2007 3:38PM

Dec

17

WOW

The SAINTS are in the heart of the playoff race. Yes it is true! The talk is that the VIKINGS will have to lose one of their remaining games,(I think it will be in Denver against the BRONCOS), but check out the GIANTS.

The GIANTS still have to play at Buffalo against the BILLS. It is a bragging rights game in New York. They close their season also against a North-eastern team, the PATRIOTS.

There is a possibility that the Saints can go as the first wild card seed and play in Tampa. Yes the SAINTS have a chance to play the BUCS.

All of this can’t happen unless the SAINTS win their last two. This will be an interesting two weeks. SAINTS FANS will be pulling for the BEARS tonight and if the SAINTS win against the EAGLES then they go to Chicago and try to get some sweet revenge against the BEARS.

The scenerios are such that if the SAINTS end up in the last wild card spot then they will most likely meet the SEAHAWKS. They match up well with them and could beat them. They will then have to play in Dallas against the COWBOYS. Start to make your reservations now and can always cancel them for that game. The chant “Remember last year will be heard plenty.” ” New Orleans 42, Dallas 17

Dec

16

Saints Defeat Cardinals 31-24

New Orleans, La. – The New Orleans Saints defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 31-24, behind the pin-point passing day of Drew Brees a powerful rushing attack led by Aaron Stecker and two big defensive plays. With the victory, the Saints improved their record to 7-7 and pulled within a half game of the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) for the second wild card spot in the NFC.

Brees completed 26-of-30 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns for a completion percentage of nearly 87%, and Stecker gained 95 yards on 22 carries for a 4.3 average and two touchdown runs to pace the Saints, winners of three-of-the-last 4 games.

“Collectively we felt that this was going to be tough opponent and we all felt that this was going to be a really hard fought game,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “I give a lot of credit to Arizona. The game came down to the last possession.”

by Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com

 

Dec

11

Bush out for season

ATLANTA – A second examination of Reggie Bush’s injured left knee by Birmingham orthopedist Dr. James Andrews confirmed the original diagnosis of a torn posterior cruciate ligament and Bush will miss the rest of the season, a league source with knowledge of the results said Monday night. 
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“It’s been a very bad knee for about four weeks and he shouldn’t have been playing on it,” the source said. 
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Bush had missed some practice time with a shin bruise in previous weeks, but an MRI exam done last Thursday evening after Bush had fully participated in the day’s practice, revealed the PCL tear. 
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The source said Monday night that surgery likely would not be required to repair the damage and Bush apparently was in Atlanta to attend the nationally televised game against the Falcons. 

Dec

11

A Look at the NFC Playoff Picture

Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Monday, December 10, 2007 – 10:57 PM
A Look At the NFC Playoff Picture

Dallas 12-1
Green Bay 11-2
Seattle 9-4
Tampa Bay 8-5
NY Giants 9-4
Minnesota 7-6
New Orleans 6-7
Washington 6-7
Detroit 6-7
Arizona 6-7

Dec

11

Saints Down Falcons, 34-14

Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com

Atlanta- For the second time in the past three weeks, the New Orleans Saints traveled to the east and convincingly handled a divisional opponent, keeping their pursuit of a coveted playoff spot very much alive. The Saints defeated the Falcons, 34-14, just two weeks after traveling to Carolina and defeating the Carolina Panthers, 31-6.

The Saints, who improved to 6-7 with the victory, picked up their fifth conference win of the season, an important tie-breaker that could come into play if the Saints are able to match another team’s win tally. Of the team’s vying for a postseason bid, the Vikings also own 5 conference wins, while the Redskins and Lions each have four. Arizona, also 6-7, owns three wins and travels to New Orleans for a huge game next Sunday afternoon in what should be a raucous Superdome.

Dec

07

Bush’s season in jeopardy

Posted by Mike Triplett, Staff writer December 07, 2007 1:55PM

The Saints learned Thursday night that tailback Reggie Bush suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during last Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay, an injury that varies in severity.

Saints Coach Sean Payton said he is still holding out hope that Bush can play in Monday night’s game at Atlanta. But it’s also possible that Bush could miss several weeks, putting the remainder of his season in jeopardy.

“If you just study the history of PCL injuries, I know they vary with each player, but it is an injury that you come back from,” Payton said. “We’ll see. We’ll monitor where he’s at. You know, I’m still hopeful for this weekend’s game.”

Bush practiced fully Thursday, which adds to Payton’s optimism. But after that practice, Bush experienced some soreness. So the team performed an MRI, which revealed the ligament tear.

Dec

02

Saints Fall to Bucs, 27-23

Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Sunday, December 02, 2007 – 6:20 PM

New Orleans – Seemingly in control of the game late in the fourth quarter after Saints DE Will Smith sacked Tampa Bay QB Luke McCown for a safety that gave the Saints a 23-20 lead and the football near midfield, everything fell apart of the New Orleans Saints in a hard-fought NFC South battle.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers scored a TD on a four-yard pass from QB Luke McCown to TE Jerramy Stevens with :14 left to hand the Saints a 27-23 loss to the first place Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints had control of the football at their own 49 yard-line with 3:36 left in the game when the Saints tried a reverse from Reggie Bush to Devery Henderson that was recovered by Tampa Bay DE Jovan Haye at the NO 37 with 3:30 remaining in the game.

The Bucs then drove the remaining 37 yards in scored the go-ahead touchdown on a fade route with just :14 left, sending the Saints to a heart-wrenching defeat and in a fight for their lives for a wild-card berth in the NFC playoff picture.

“This is a really disappointing loss and I feel it’s probably the worst job I’ve done as a head coach since I have been here,” said Head Coach Sean Payton to begin his post-game press conference. “When we got safety and the ball near midfield, we certainly had every opportunity to win this game. I just feel terrible.”

Payton stated that the play-call was a call the Saints have in their short-yardage running package that is intended to combat an aggressive defense that is intent on flying to the football.

Payton didn’t point out that the same play was used in 2006 against the Atlanta Falcons and resulted in a touchdown by Devery Henderson.

“It was one of those things were if we handle that play, it probably results in a big play,” said QB Drew Brees. “It was something that they weren’t expecting but something we had to execute, and we didn’t. If we hit that play we probably only have to pick up one more first down and we win the game.

“It’s heartbreaking because we laid it all on the line. We still have a chance for the playoffs and when we play like we can, we are a playoff team. But it’s something we are going to have to dig deep to find and not let it happen again.”