Archive for September, 2008



2008 Saints Gear !

NFL 2008 !
Going to an a Saints game ? If so support our team, get some NEW gear !
The Whodatnation.com team went to the DC game and had a blast and
we were sporting some new gear, but saw a lot of old gear.  Let’s show
the love for some of the new guys !

If you love Archie that’s also great but hey we have some new guys
that are great and we need to show them we support them !

Go Saints !



Saints Travel to Washington Game Story

Saints Travel to Washington Game Story

Sunday, September 14, 2008 – 4:28 PM
Landover, Md. – The Washington Redskins (1-1) rallied from a 24-15 deficit to start the fourth quarter and defeated the injury depleted New Orleans Saints (1-1), 29-24, at FedEx Field.

The Saints’ aspirations of starting 2-0 for the seventh time in franchise history were dashed after the Saints committed three costly turnovers, all of which were converted into points for the home team.

The Saints were out gained 455 yards to 250 by the Redskins, but still held a 24-15 lead following RB Reggie Bush’s 55 yard punt return for a touchdown on the second to last play of the third quarter.

But Washington used a power running back, led by RB Clinton Portis, and churned out 149 on the ground overall, while the Saints ran for 55 yards. Washington QB Jason Campbell completed 24-of-36 passes for 321 yards with one touchdown pass on the day, while his leading receiver was WR Santana Moss (7-164-23.4 average-1 TD). It was Moss and Campbell that single-handily erased the Saints’ 24-22 lead with just over three minutes to play when the two hooked up for a 67 yard scoring play.

The Saints, playing without four defensive starters, lost the battle of time of possession, 34:14 to 25:46, and were unable to stop the Redskins from scoring 14 points in the final frame.

Reggie Bush had raced 55 yards–untouched–on a punt return late in the third quarter to give the Saints a 24-15 lead over home team. The Saints’ offense, through, could only muster 44 yards of offense in the fourth quarter to the Redskins’ 169 yards and two scores.

Washington RB Clinton Portis had scored on a nine-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, pulling the Redskins to within two points of the Saints, 17-15, before a packed crowd.

Saints WR Robert Meachem’s first career reception was a particularly memorable one, as he hauled in a Drew Brees pass for 19-yards out for the score. The touchdown grab, which came early in the third quarter, gave the Saints a 17-9 lead after Martin Gramatica’s extra point.

Gramatica had ended the first half of the game by hammering a 49-yard field goal that has given the Saints a 10-9 lead over the Washington Redskins. It is the third time in Gramatica’s five games as a Saint that he has ended the first half with a field goal of 48 yards of longer.

The Saints’ offense had picked up 59 yards on their final possession, which managed 112 yard of offense to the Redskins’ 203 yards of total offense throughout the first half.

The Redskins took advantage of two Saints turnovers and connected on three-of-four field goal opportunities, giving the home team a 9-7 lead with just over a minute to play in the first half.

The Saints’ first scoring drive of the game came after they took advantage of a Redskins fumbled punt return that was forced by Josh Bullocks and recovered by Troy Evans and marched 27 yards in six plays to take a 7-6 lead over the Redskins.

The Redskins had taken advantage of two turnovers (one interception and one fumble) and converted them into two mid-range field goal and led the Saints 6-0 early in the second quarter.

The Redskins’ initial scoring drive, which came on their second offensive series, was set up by a Saints’ turnover in Washington territory.

Washington accepted the opening kickoff and put together a 12-play, 49-yard drive, advancing as far as the Saints’ 31 yard-line. The Saints halted the Redskins due in large part to the one-yard tackle for a loss by rookie DT Sedrick Ellis, who drilled RB Clinton Portis on first down and a third down pressure by LB Scott Shanle that forced QB Jason Campbell to throw the ball away. Washington kicker Shaun Suisham missed a 49-yard field goal wide to the left and the Saints started their first drive at their own 39.

The Saints appeared to be stopped on their first third down conversion when Brees and WR Henderson connected for a five-yard gain. However Redskins CB Carlos Rogers threw Henderson to the ground out-of-bounds and in the middle of the Saints’ bench and was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Saints, though, experienced misfortune of their own on a third down in opposing territory, as Brees hit TE Jeremy Shockey for what would have been a first down, but Shockey was stripped of the ball by LB Rocky McIntosh and Washington rookie S Chris Horton recovered the ball at the Saints’ 33.

Washington took advantage of the Saints’ turnover and drove 63 yards in 11 plays. The biggest play on the drive came on a 27-yard end around by WR Santana Moss that took the ball from midfield to the Saints’ 23. The Saints stopped the Redskins inside the 10-yard line and the home team settled for a 22-yard field goal by Suisham.

The Redskins burned all of their timeouts by late in the first quarter, as QB Jason Campbell twice was forced to call timeouts on third downs.

Washington’s Horton again was the beneficiary of a Saints’ turnover, as a pass from Brees to Shockey was deflected by CB Fred Smoot and intercepted by a diving Horton at the Saints’ 27. The Saints’ defense through stopped the Redskins and forced another field goal, this time a 36-yard effort from Suisham that gave the Redskins a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Saints were stopped by the Redskins, in large part due to a 12-yard sack by Jason Taylor. The Saints’ Steve Weatherford booted a 52 yard punt that was field by Randle El, who returned the ball six yards but was drilled by S Josh Bullocks, who also stripped him of the ball and an alert Tory Evans caught the ball in mid-air at the Saints’ 27. On second down found Shockey over the middle for a 14-yard gain at the Washington 13. On second down the Brees hit Thomas for 11 yards to the Washington 2. The Redskins were guilty of a hold on first down and the ball was advanced half the distance to the one. Thomas took the ball to the edge of the end zone on first down and then plunged over the right side of the line for the Saints’ first lead of the game, 7-6, following Gramatica’s extra point.

Washington began their next drive and trailing for the first time in the game and started it off with a 36-yard kickoff return by Rock Cartwright to their own 40 yard-line. Campbell hit Moss for a 14-yard gain on second down and then two plays later were the beneficiaries of a 15-yard penalty when Ellis was flagged for striking Campbell’s facemask. Washington couldn’t get the ball any further than the Saints’ 12 after Jonathan Vilma and Kevin Kaesviharn stopped Campbell on a scramble short of the first down sticks.

Suisham, though, missed a 30-yard field goal wide to the left after holder Durant Brooks appeared to bobble the long snap and throw off the timing of the play.

New Orleans then started at their own 20 and went three downs and out and were forced to punt the ball away to the Redskins’ Randle El with 3:18 left in the second quarter.

The Redskins started at their own 33 yard-line but without any timeouts. Ladell Betts picked up six yards and then Campbell hit Chris Colley for an eight-yard completion. Campbell connected with veteran James Thrash on an eight-yard completion before the two-minute warning, taking the ball to the Saints’ 45 yard-line. Campbell then hit Cooley for a 26-yard completion to the Saints’ 18. Dunbar then broke up a pass intended for Cooley in the end zone. Portis then carried for one-yard and the Saints called a timeout to stop the clock with 1:15 remaining in the first half and with the Redskins at the Saints’ 17. New Orleans then flushed Campbell out to his left on third down and forced the former Auburn quarterback to throw the ball away.

Suisham hit a 35-yard field goal to end the drive, capping an eight play, 50-yard drive that gave the Redskins a 9-7 lead.

The Saints though showed their two-minute offensive prowess, driving 59 yards in seven plays. The biggest plays on the drive were a 22-yard completion to WR David Patten and a 12-yard completion to Reggie Bush. Bush touched the ball four times on the drive for 37 yards, including a clutch 12-yard gain on the second to last play of the drive that gave the Saints the ball at the Washington 31. Gramatica then hammered a 49-yard field goal through the uprights, the third time in his five games as a Saints he has ended the first half of a game with a field goal of 48 yards or longer. His field goal gave the Saints a 10-9 lead as the clock expired.

The Saints took the opening kickoff of the second half and started at their own 20 and converted an early first down for 18 yards after Pierre Thomas snuck out of the backfield into the flat and Brees caught the Redskins in a blitz. Brees hit Campbell for the tight end’s first reception of the season that picked up 12 yards. Deuce McAllister then saw his first action of the season and picked up five yards to the Washington 42. On a third-and-five, Brees fired a 12-yard pass to David Patten for the first down and then came back and hit Bush for a four-yard gain. Patten then caught a seven yard slant from Brees for the first down to the Redskins’ 19.

On the next play Robert Meachem made his first career reception on a 19-yard touchdown from Brees in the end zone.

Washington, trailing by their largest margin of the day (eight points) began their first drive of the second half at their own 20 and picked up eight yards on a completion to TE Chris Cooley and then four yards from Portis. The running back from Miami then added 13 yards and Moss picked up 27 yards on a crossing route. Betts then picked up 14 more yards to the Saints’ 17.

Betts picked up four yards on first down. On second down Campbell nearly was sacked by Vilma as he rolled to this right, bringing up a third-and-six. Saints DE Will Smith sacked Campbell, but the Saints’ Jason Craft was guilty of a holding call and the Redskins were awarded a first and goal from the eight yard-line. Bullocks tackled Portis for a loss of one yard on a screen, but on second down Portis followed the block of FB Mike Sellers and found the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown run.

The Redskins, trailing 17-15, went for a two-point conversion, but Vilma intercepted the ball in the end zone.

The Saints gained on first down on their ensuing series, but were forced to punt and Washington set up camp at their own 12. Portis picked up six yards to the 18. Betts then picked up two yards on an inside handoff. On third-and-two, reserve S Chris Reis dropped Campbell for a three-yard loss on a sack and Washington was forced to punt for the first time this afternoon.

Bush dropped back, fielded rookie punter Durant Brooks’ 38-yard line drive punt, and made two midfield moves and picked several key blocks and went untouched 55 yards for a touchdown, that gave the Saints a 24-15 lead with :02 remaining in the third quarter.

DT Kendrick Clancy and Vilma stopped Betts for a loss of two yards and rookie Tracy Porter, forcing an incompletion, closely defended a second down pass. On third down Campbell completed a short pass to Betts for a gain of eight yards and the Redskins elected to punt it away, hearing it loudly from their fans, who wanted the team to go for it on fourth down.

With 13:30 left in the game the Saints led 24-15 and had the ball on their own 28 yard-line. Bush took a handoff and picked up a hard two yards up the middle and then Brees hit Lance Moore for a gain of seven yards. On third-and-one Brees fooled the Washington defense on a naked bootleg and picked up nine yards. The Saints then looked for a knock punch and nearly got it when Brees almost connected with Henderson for a deep connection, but S LaRon Landry got over in coverage at the last second and broke up the pass. The Saints weren’t able to convert the third down and were forced to punt over holding the ball for nearly three minutes.

The Redskins started at their own 18, but were not there very long, as Will Smith beat his blocker cleanly and dropped Campbell for a loss of 12 yards. Campbell hit Cooley for a 23-yard gain, as he found a seam in the Saints’ zone. Campbell then found Randle El for 17 yards to the Redskins’ 46. TE Fred Davis then caught a six yard pass and Campbell found Moss for a 25-yard completion to the Saints’ 23. The Saints used a timeout to regroup defensively with 7:08 remaining in the game and still holding the nine-point advantage.

Campbell then found Randle El along the sideline for an 11-yard completion to the Saints’ 12. Vilma then tackled Portis after a four-yard gain. Portis then took a delayed handoff for an eight-yard touchdown and Washington kicked the extra point to pull within two points, 24-22.

The Saints went three plays and out and Washington started at their own 37 yard-line. Jason Campbell then hit a streaking Santana Moss for a 67-yard TD and the Redskins took a 29-24 lead with 3:30 to go following the extra point.

The Saints started at their own and picked up 12 yards on a second down pass from Brees to Reggie Bush. But Brees’ next pass attempt was batted at the line of scrimmage by DT Demetric Evans and intercepted by Horton, who returned the football 10 yards to the New Orleans 43.

Notes: As expected, the Saints de-activated the following players before the game: WR Marques Colston, CB Randall Gay, RB Aaron Stecker, CB Mike McKenzie, S Roman Harper, LB Scott Fujita, T Jermon Bushrod and DT Antwan Lake.

The Redskins deactivated QB Colt Brennan (3rd QB), S Reed Doughty, S Kareem Moore, LB Khary Campbell, LB Marcus Washington, G-T Jason Fabini, G-T Chad Rinehart and DE Rob Jackson.

Saints & Payton Reach Long-Term Accord: Head Coach Sean Payton reached an agreement on a contract extension, it was announced by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. Payton, whose original contract was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2009 season, has now been extended through the 2012 season. “We are excited to get this done,” Loomis said.

The Saints won the coin toss and elected to defer to accept the kickoff to begin the second half of the game, rather than the opening half.



New Orleans Saints fall to Washington

New Orleans Saints fall to Washington

Posted by The Times-Picayune September 14, 2008 2:55PM

It was a New Orleans native who finished the Saints at FedEx Field on Sunday.

Chris Horton, a rookie from De La Salle High who went to college at UCLA, intercepted a Drew Brees pass at the 48-yard line, to end a Saints drive and help preserve the Washington Redskins 29-24 win.

The Redskins trailed by nine points with less than 10 minutes to play in the game, when quarterback Jason Campbell began to look solid in the pocket.

Campbell engineered a drive that ended with a Clinton Portis 8-yard touchdown run with 6:05 left.

After holding the Saints to a three-and-out, Campbell struck quickly, hitting Santana Moss for a 67-yard touchdown pass as Moss beat Tracy Porter down the right side.

The Saints got the ball back, but Horton’s interception ended their hopes of making a comeback.

The Saints defense was out on the field most of the game as Washington controlled the clock and probably should have led early in the game. But Shaun Suisham missed two field goals in the first half.

The Redskins defense held the Saints in check in the first half, but New Orleans still led 10-9 at halftime.

Brees was 22-of-33 for 216 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for the Saints. Reggie Bush, who did return a punt for a touchdown, was held in check running the ball. He had 28 yards on 10 carries. As a receiver, Bush had seven catches for 63 yards.

Campbell had arguably his best day as a pro, going 24-of-36 for 321 yards and a touchdown. He looked more confident as the game went on and the Saints defense wore down.

Portis had a big game, running for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Jonathan Vilma led the Saints defense, which missed having Scott Fujita and Mark Simoneau who were out with injuries, with 10 total tackles.



Saints List 7 Players Out for Sunday

Saints List 7 Players Out for Sunday

by Doug MIller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Friday, September 12, 2008 – 2:31 PM

The New Orleans Saints today placed linebacker Mark Simoneau on injured reserve with a lingering back injury that Head Coach Sean Payton said would require surgery. Payton likened to the procedure Simoneau will undergo as similar to the surgery that TE Mark Campbell had last season.

In other news related to injuries, three starters for Sunday’s game at Washington – linebacker Scott Fujita (knee), safety Roman Harper (hamstring) and cornerback Randall Gay (hamstring/illness) have been listed as out.

Tailback Aaron Stecker (hamstring) has also been ruled out of the game, along with receiver Marques Colston (thumb) and defensive tackle Antwan Lake (groin).

To replace Simoneau on the roster, the Saints will activate defensive end Josh Savage from the practice squad.

The Saints also listed four players as having fully participated in practice today and are listed as probable: LB Troy Evans (ankle), DT Brian Young (knee), RB Deuce McAllister (knee) and CB Mike McKenzie (knee).

The Redskins listed LB Khary Campbell (thigh) and
S Kareem Moore (hamstring) as doubtful.  LB Marcus Washington
(hamstring) and WR Malcolm Kelly (knee) as questionable, and CB Fred
Smoot (hip), TE Chris Cooley (quad), CB Shawn Springs (calf) and DE
Jason Taylor (knee) as probable.



Saints Reach Injury Settlement with DT Hollis Thomas

Saints Reach Injury Settlement with DT Hollis Thomas

by Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Thursday, September 11, 2008 – 4:04 PM

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said today that the Saints have reached an injury settlement with defensive tackle Hollis Thomas.

Thomas was injured in the days leading up to the Saints’ second preseason game of the preseason during a joint practice with the Houston Texans. Thomas suffered a torn triceps and had subsequent surgery to repair the muscle

Since Thomas was waived with an injury settlement, he is eligible to be re-signed by the Saints, or any other team, later in the season. If Thomas had gone on the reserve/injured list, he would have been lost for the season and unable to play this season.

“He knows if he gets this thing rehabbed and is able to come back 100 percent, then returning is certainly an option,” coach Sean Payton said Thursday following the Saints’ practice.

Thomas, 6-0, 335-pounds, is a 13-year veteran known for his prowess as a run-stopper. He has played in 154 regular season games throughout his career, including 28 regular season games for the Saints during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, and has racked up 658 career tackles and 20 sacks. Thomas played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1996-2005 before being traded to the Saints. He has started 121 career regular season games and also played in eight postseason games, with four starts, and owns 28 career postseason tackles as well as two sacks.



Saints Players Game One Postgame Quotes

Saints Players Game One Postgame Quotes

Sunday, September 07, 2008 – 5:10 PM

#98 DT Sedrick Ellis:

On the play of the defense today

“I think our defense played really well. The defensive line went after it today and I thought we played really well. The defense stepped up and the offense stepped up. It was a great game”

On the pressure the defense put on Jeff Garcia

“We played a lot of base coverages. We went after them mainly with a four man rush. I think our defensive line did a great job of getting after him. I thought overall it was a great experience.”

#94 DE Charles Grant

On the defensive pressure on Jeff Garcia

“A lot of people have been harping on the defense to put pressure on the quarterback. We worked hard on that in the offseason. We have a great rotation between Bobby (McCray), Will (Smith) and myself. The guys inside did a great job today as well. They changed their whole game plan at halftime. They went to quick passes. Our defensive backs played an outstanding game. We are going to get better and better each week.”

On the importance of play on the defensive line

“Every game starts with the front four on offense and defense. You are going to have a great game if your guys up front dominate the line.

#51 LB Jonathan Vilma

On the importance of sealing the victory on defense

“It was very important because Tampa Bay started to get into a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. They hit a couple of big plays. It was very important for us to finish the game like we did. We finished on a good note. That is really all that you can ask for. We stopped them on downs and it was great to get the victory the way that we did. .”

#88 TE Jeremy Shockey

On how it felt to be playing today

“It was good to get back out there. It has been a while since I played a regular season game. It felt good, but I have a lot of areas I need to improve on. It was a great feeling playing out there and contributing to the team. I think I answered a lot of questions today about still playing at a high level.”

On his emotions after making big plays

“That is how I have always played. Obviously, it felt a lot better on the drives where we punched it in the end zone. We have a lot of work to do as a team. I thought the defense played great. On offense we did some great things, but we let some situations control us instead of us controlling the situation. The talent on this side of the ball is amazing. It is exciting to be part of something explosive.”

#9 QB Drew Brees

On the importance of the win today

“It was a great way to start the season off. It was great to start out fast and beat a divisional opponent at home. It was important to get a win after the city of New Orleans was displaced all week because of the hurricane. It was great having the fans back in full force.”

On the importance of Reggie Bush’s play today

“It was great for him and his confidence. The one-two punch of he and Pierre (Thomas) was very effective. That opened up some things in the passing game. Reggie out in space is a big weapon. We are going to try to utilize that. Once we get (Aaron) Stecker back and Deuce (McAllister) in the mix, then we have a pretty formidable group of running backs.”

#25 RB Reggie Bush

On the touchdown scoring play

“It was really nice to make a big play in a crunch time situation. I was trying to be patient all game and wait for my opportunity. We ran a play that we worked on all week and we thought we could take advantage of them if we had the right coverage. We called it and I was able to make a play. It was a huge play for us. It obviously feels great.”



Saints Top Bucs 24-20 in Season Opener

Saints Top Bucs 24-20 in Season Opener

by Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Sunday, September 07, 2008 – 3:30 PM

New Orleans, La. – The New Orleans Saints concluded a hectic week that saw them practice and prepare for their opening regular season game of the 2008 conclude with an emotional, see-saw battle against the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers that the Saints pulled out with a 24-20 in front of a packed and rollicking Superdome crowd.

Reggie Bush caught a 42-yard pass from Drew Brees for a score that gave the Saints (1-0) a 24-20 lead midway through the fourth quarter over the visiting Buccaneers (0-1). The Saints’ defense, particularly a key interception in Saints territory by LB Scott Fujita, made the lead stand up as the Saints earned their first win of the season in a front of their emotionally charged up fans.

Reggie Bush runs around the end

Reggie Bush runs around the end

“That was a heck of a game,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “It went back and forth and both teams were throwing punches and making the others respond. It was a big win for us because it was at home in front of crowd that needed something to cheer about after a tough week, and against the team that won our division last year.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden was succinct in his assessment of the game. “I’m proud of our team. We fought hard,” Gruden said. “Give credit to the Saints. They are a very good team.”

Gruden credited the Saints’ defensive front for causing some chaos throughout the game, as well. “We pass protected pretty good, honestly,” Gruden said. “We threw the ball 30 times or so. They’ve got Sedrick Ellis. He is the real deal. Charles Grant and Will Smith are factors. (Bobby) McCray is a hell of a pass rusher. They beefed it up here. Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton deserve a lot of credit. They will be a handful for everybody this year.”

Bush said after the game that he was most pleased with the entire team effort that he witnessed from the Saints in the victory. “Every guy in that locker room, from the guys that have been here the past few years, to the new guys like Jonathan Vilma, Sedrick Ellis, Jeremy Shockey, all left everything on the field. It was a total team effort.”

New Orleans had earlier in the half taken a 17-13 lead, but their grasp on the lead was short-lived, as the Bucs drove 73 yards in 11 plays, capped off with a two yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia to WR Ike Hilliard early in the fourth quarter and took a 20-17 lead.

But Bush and Brees erased the lead and the Saints’ defense made it stand up and sent the packed home into an uproar inside of minutes and with their backs against the wall. Fujita, a defensive captain, thwarted the Bucs’ final drive.

Brees connected with Devery Henderson on an 84-yard TD pass on the second to last play of the third quarter to regain the lead, 17-13, in a seesaw game at the Superdome.

The Saints’ Martin Gramatica booted a 34-yard field goal with 2:49 left in the third quarter to pull the Saints even with the visiting Buccaneers, 10-10, but his counterpart in Pewter hit a 33-yard field goal of his own a few minutes later to give the Bucs a 13-10 lead.

Jeremy Shockey fights for yardage

Jeremy Shockey fights for yardage

Tampa Bay placekicker Matt Bryant had earlier hit a 37-yard field goal with just :03 left in the first half to send the Bucs into the locker room with a 10-7 lead in the season opener at the Superdome.

In what would prove to be a true defensive game, the Saints jumped out to a fast start, driving 76 yards in just six plays, culminated by a 39-yard touchdown pass from Brees to David Patten that gave the Saints a 7-0 lead just 3:33 into the game. But that would prove to be the only scoring of the half for the Saints.

The Bucs, meanwhile, took advantage of a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown by CB Phillip Buchanon midway through the first quarter that tied that game at 7-7.

Pierre Thomas, who returned the opening kickoff 22 yards, started the Saints’ first drive of the season with a four-yard carry. Brees then hit Bush sprinting out the backfield for a completion that picked up 16 yards. Bush then ripped off a 10-yard gain. The only setback the Saints experienced was a five-yard delay of game penalty that pushed them back five yards, but Thomas picked up the five on a screen. On second down from the Bucs’ 45 Brees hit Bush for a gain of seven yards, which brought up a third-and-three from the Bucs’ 39. Brees coolly dropped back, scanned the field, and fired a deep pass over the head of Bucs CB Phillip Buchanon to a wide-open Patten, who caught the pass and waltzed the final few yards for the opening score.

The Saints’ defense then threw a three and out on the Bucs’ offense, with Grant first pressuring QB Jeff Garcia on second down and then stopping Garcia after a one yard scramble.

The Saints then started their second possession at their own nine-yard line. On first down Brees connected with Bush for an 11-yard gain to the 20. Bush was then stopped for a one-yard loss and the Saints were flagged on second down for a holding call on a downfield block on a screen-play. On a second and 15 from their own 15, Brees dropped back and was hit by blitzing LB Barrett Ruud as he released the ball. The pass, intended for WR Lance Moore, fluttered into the air and Buchanon intercepted the ball at the Saints’ 26 and had clear sailing into the end zone, which following the extra point, tied the game at 7-7 with just over eight minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Saints once again were guilty of a holding infraction and were forced to start at their own six-yard line. A deep pass for a streaking Henderson was off the mark on first down and a four-yard carry by Bush set up a third-and-six from the Saints’ 10, but Brees and WR Marques Colston were unable to connect for the first down when S Tanard Jackson knocked the ball out of the outreached hands of Colston.

After a five-yard screen pass, Garcia hit Warrick Dunn for an 11-yard gain. On the ensuing play, Vilma rocketed through a gap in the offense and drilled Earnest Graham at the line of scrimmage for no gain. On second down Grant once again harassed Garcia and forced an incompletion, which brought up a third down. Grant and Smith pressured Garcia as the hurried quarterback tried to connect with Joey Galloway over the middle, but coverage from Vilma forced the quarterback and the receiver to misfire and the Saints had forced the Bucs to punt.

The Saints’ fourth offensive series began in less than ideal circumstances, as the Saints were flagged for two false starts and pressed back to their own 4 before they even got a snap off. But Pierre Thomas bailed the team out, first with a four yard carry and then a fantastic weaving run through traffic for 18 yards to the Saints’ 27. The Saints continued to run the ball on first and second down, but were once again stopped on third down as Brees and Moore couldn’t connect.

Steve Weatherford hit a 50-yard punt, but the Saints were guilty of an illegal formation. The penalty was the Saints’ sixth penalty of the quarter, compared to none for the Bucs.

Charles Grant sacks Tampa QB Jeff Garcia

Charles Grant sacks Tampa QB Jeff Garcia

The Bucs, though, picked up their first penalty on the next play with an illegal block in the back. Tampa started at their own 25 and Graham picked up 14 with a hard run up the middle of the defense. Tampa was then guilty of a holding call that pushed them back 10 yards. Ellis stopped Graham after a short gain before Grant sacked Garcia for a loss of eight yards on second down, blowing past a block by RT Donald Penn.

The second quarter began with the Bucs facing a third-and-long and Graham was stopped after a third down carry and the Bucs punted away to the Saints, who set up shop at their own 26 yard-line. Bush was stacked up behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of two yards and Brees then connected with Shockey for a gain of six yards, marking his first reception as a Saint. On third down Brees hit Colston across the middle, but a big shot from S Sabby Piscitelli stopped Colston half-a-yard shy of the first down markers and the Saints punted away to the TB 30, where they started their next drive.

Graham started with a five-yard carry before being stopped by Fujita. Garcia then took a deep, seven-step drop and looked deep down field for a receiver, but saw his options tightly covered by the Saints’ secondary and elected to dump the ball off to TE Alex Smith, who picked up eight yards and first down. The Bucs then took their first timeout with 11:01 left in the second quarter and with the ball resting on their own 48 yard-line. Graham then spun through a hole on the line and picked up five yards before being decked by S Roman Harper. Garcia then hit WR Ike Hilliard over the middle for a gain of six yards and the Bucs were in Saints’ territory. Dunn then picked up a yard and a major pile ensued, but Tampa T Jeremy Trueblood shoved Smith into the pile and was flagged for a personal foul, which pushed the Bucs back 15 yards. The Saints then stopped the Bucs on the next two plays, forcing them to punt the ball away, which they did well, as punter Josh Bidwell’s 45-yard punt was downed at the one-yard line by rookie CB Aqib Talib.

Brees hit Colston down the sideline for a gain of 16 yards on a quick little hitch route. Thomas then picked up four yards over the left side of the line and came right back on second down with another three yard gain. On third-and-three from the 24 the Saints took their first timeout of the first half to discuss matters and the result paid off with an eight-yard reception by Moore. On the next play, Brees tried to connect with Bush on a screen out of the backfield but the running back was met with a huge head-to-head hit from CB Ronde Barber.

On second down, the Bucs blitzed again and Brees’ pass to Shockey lost a yard after the tight end was met as soon as the ball arrived. On third down Brees nearly fitted a deep pass to Patten down the middle of the field, but the two couldn’t connect.

Rookie Jo-Lonn Dunbar then hammered return man Dexter Jackson with a huge open field hit. The Bucs started at their own 35 and the Saints’ defense pitched a three and out with big plays turned in by Vilma, who stopped Graham for no gain on second down and then a third down pass rush that forced Garcia to miss his intended receiver.

Bidwell’s punt sailed into the end zone and the Saints started at the own 20 yard-line with just over three minutes remaining in the half. On first down Brees and Moore hooked up for a nine yard gain and Bush picked up a first down on second down with a two-yard run over a hole opened by Jahri Evans. On first down at the 31, Bush picked up two yards on what would be the final play before the two-minute warning. Brees then hit Shockey for a gain of five yards, which brought up a third-and-three, but Brees couldn’t connect in the face of the Tampa blitz. Weatherford uncorked a 61-yard punt that bounded into the end zone, setting the Bucs up at their own 20 with under 2 minutes remaining.

Tampa looked to be in midseason form running their two-minute drill. Starting at their own 20 yard-line, Garcia hit Galloway for 13 yards and first down. Garcia then hit WR Antonio Bryant for a 26-yard gain, although Saints CB Aaron Glenn very narrowly intercepted the pass. Garcia to then checked a pass down to Ike Hilliard for eight yards and the Bucs called a timeout with :29 remaining in the half and the football at the Saints’ 33. Garcia and Hilliard once again hooked up for short seven yard completion and Garcia spiked the ball to stop the clock at the New Orleans 26 with :14 left. Warrick Dunn then scampered for seven yards and the Bucs called their final timeout and Bryant ended the seven play, 61 yard drive in 1:25 by booting a 37-yard field goal through the uprights with just a few seconds left to play and with the Bucs holding a 10-7 lead.

Second Half

Tampa started the second half at their own 20 yard-line, but was guilty of a holding call on first down. But Dunn atoned for the earlier sins of one of his offensive linemen with a 13-yard gain. Tampa couldn’t shake the penalty bug, though, as WR Antonio Bryant was flagged for a 10-yard pass interference call on second down. On the replay of second down, NT Kendrick Clancy drilled Garcia in the pocket as he released the ball, which was incomplete. On third down and long Galloway caught a short pass but was dropped by an alert Randall Gay and Bidwell elected to keep the ball out of Bush’s hands, instead opting to kick the ball out of bounds after 30 yards.

New Orleans had the best starting field position of the game, setting up shop at the Tampa Bay 48. Thomas swept the right for a gain of two yards on the first play. Bush then managed a yard and the Saints appeared to have offensive momentum on their side when Brees and Shockey teamed for a third down conversion on a third-and-seven with an eight-yard gain. But the Saints were stymied with two consecutive incompletions and misfortune struck as C Jonathan Goodwin and Brees weren’t on the same page on third down and the shotgun eluded Brees, which Thomas fell on near midfield but the Saints had to once again punt.

Garcia for three-yard completion, then again hit to Graham for five. On third down Garcia and TE Alex Smith couldn’t connect and Tampa was forced to punt. Tampa was penalized for an illegal man downfield and the Saints made them punt again.

The Saints took possession at their own 29 following the punt and caught a spark, as Bush bolted through the middle for a 26-yard run. On the play however, Bush was guilty on a personal foul facemask call that took 15 yards off the run. Brees then hit Shockey for 26 yards. Two short runs set up another Brees to Shockey completion on third down, this time for 10 yards and a first down. Brees and Colston then picked up five yards, and Thomas scampered through the middle for six yards and first down. On first down for the 12 Brees threw the ball away and was sacked on second down for a six-yard loss by DE Greg White. On third down the Saints could only muster two yards on a completion between Brees and Bush and the Saints elected to send Martin Gramatica out for a 34-yard field goal attempt, which he drilled. Tampa was forced to call a timeout after nearly getting caught with 12 men on the field, which cost them their first timeout. The Saints’ scoring drive covered 55 yards in 11 plays and ate up 5:24 in time of possession.

Earnest Graham bulled his way off the right side of the Tampa line for a 46-yard gain to the Saints’ 20 on the Bucs’ first play from scrimmage. Dunn then managed four yards on an inside carry on first down and then another yard on second down. Tampa then called their second timeout and Garcia tried to test rookie CB Tracy Porter with a post route by Antonio Bryant in the end zone. But the rookie was up for the challenge and defended the pass, setting up a Matt Bryant 33 yard field goal that gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead with: 33 left in the third quarter.

Brees didn’t allow the Bucs lead to hold up all that long. In fact, it took just one play, an 84-yard completion to a streaking Henderson that went for the score. On the play, Bucs DE Gaines Adams jumped offside and Brees and Goodwin caught him on the neutral zone and Brees took advantage of the free play with the perfect spiral. It was Henderson’s long play as a professional.

The Saints’ lead didn’t hold up, though, as Tampa turned in their most impressive drive of the game. The Bucs marched 73 yards in 11 plays in 4:35. The biggest plays on the drive was a 13 yard gain on a third down via a Garcia to Galloway completion, and an 18 yard completion from Garcia to Graham. Tampa scored on a two-yard touchdown pass from Garcia to Ike Hilliard with 10:38 left in the game, that following the extra point made the score 20-17 in Tampa’s favor.

That lead, as well, wouldn’t hold up. The Saints, largely behind the outstanding athletic prowess of Bush, ripped 80 yards in five plays, with Bush touching the ball on all five plays. Capped off by a 42-yard catch and run down the Saints’ sideline. On the play, Bush caught the Brees offering right in stride and deked out a safety coming over and then flew the final three yards with Buchanon all over him. The TD gave the Saints a 24-20 lead with 7:38 left in the game.

The Saints’ defense, behind a series of big plays from their once-maligned defensive secondary, held Garcia and the Bucs on their next possession, which also saw the Bucs use their third and final timeout. Tampa’s Bidwell punted the ball away to Moore, who fair caught the ball at the Saints’ 17 with just over five minutes left. Thomas picked up three yards on a run, he then tried the other side of the line for a gain of four yards. On the play Thomas was injured and the clock stopped with 3:42 left in the game and the Saints facing a third-and-three. Bush picked up a yard, but the Saints were forced to punt with 2:36 remaining in the game. The Saints allowed the game clock to wind all the way down before calling their second timeout of the game.

Tampa, after a 14 yard punt return by Jackson, took over at their own 49 with 2:24 left. Garcia hung in the pocket with pocket with Clancy in his face and hit Bryant for a 13-yard gain to the Saints’ 39. On first down, Garcia got rid of the ball as he was being dragged down by Ellis, but despite the crowd’s pleas, wasn’t flagged for an intentional grounding call after the officials huddled. The ruling was that Garcia was out of the pocket when he ditched the pass. On second down and underneath the two minute clock from the 39, Garcia hit Smith for an 11-yard gain and the first down. Garcia was then sacked by Bobby McCray from the blind-side for a loss of seven yards to the 35. The veteran QB then hit Galloway for an 11-yard gain. The two couldn’t connect on third down and six, which brought up a fourth-and-six from the Saints’ 24 with :44 remaining. The Saints called their final timeout to regroup before the pivotal play.

Garcia dropped back but an alert Fujita darted in front of his intended receiver and intercepted the pass at the Saints’ 21 and the Saints only had to take one knee to end the game and leave with the victory.