Grading the New Orleans Saints’ performance against the Miami Dolphins

By Doug Tatum, The Times-Picayune

October 25, 2009, 9:00PM

Grading the New Orleans Saints’ performance in their 46-34 against the host Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

OFFENSE: Four fleurs-de-lis

drew-brees-touchdown.jpgEliot Kamenitz/The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees scores after calling his own number in the huddle for a quarterback sneak that put his team ahead for the first time in the fourth quarter.

Even though Drew Brees turned over the ball four times (three interceptions and a fumble),  this has to go down as one of his best performances as a Saint. His touchdown dive over the pile at the end of the first half made the deficit manageable,  and then he spread the ball around in the second half and made another great play on his quarterback sneak for a score. Mike Bell’s tough running forced the Dolphins to respect the ground game, which helped open the passing alleys for Jeremy Shockey,  Marques Colston and Co. Reggie Bush looked like he was back in college with his gravity-defying touchdown leap.

DEFENSE: Four fleurs-de-lis

tracy-porter.jpgTracy Porter/The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Saints quarterback Tracy Porter iced the victory with his interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday at Land Shark Stadium.

This unit continues to make big plays. Linebacker Scott Shanle’s fumble recovery and safety Darren Sharper’s third interception return for a touchdown this season turned the game in the Saints’ favor,  and then cornerback Tracy Porter iced the victory with his pick-six. It is the first time in team history that the Saints have returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Two of the touchdowns this unit gave up were the direct result of turnovers by the offense and for the fifth time this season the defense didn’t surrender any points in the fourth quarter.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Two fleurs-de-lis

The Saints still need to work on the snapper-holder-kicker exchange as the missed extra point in the fourth quarter by John Carney (with Mark Brunell holding and Jason Pyle snapping) could have been costly. Carney’s leg looks plenty strong,  though. Reggie Bush hasn’t been effective all season returning punts. Courtney Roby’s long kickoff return in the first half helped the Saints get on the board.

COACHING: Four fleurs-de-lis

Trailing 24-3 with his team at the goal line with five seconds left in the first half,  Sean Payton listened to quarterback Drew Brees and allowed him to dive into the end zone for a touchdown that made the deficit 24-10. Payton continued to make all the right moves in the second half,  giving the ball to Mike Bell,  finding tight end Jeremy Shockey and dialing up two great plays for touchdowns  —  the reverse to Reggie Bush and Brees’ quarterback sneak. Give defensive coordinator Gregg Williams credit for emphasizing turnovers since the day he was hired. Can’t do much better than two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Comments are closed.