Sunday, 02 October 2011 21:29
New Orleans Saints On Rookie Run, Beats Jags And Gabbert Faces Panthers And Cam Newton
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The Saints are 3-1 and in first place by defeating the offensively inept Jaguars 23-10 on Sunday in Jacksonville (1-3).

The Saints could have sole possession of first place if Tampa Bay loses on Monday night as the first quarter of the season ends.

 The Saints travel to Carolina next Sunday to play Cam Newton and the Panthers, who are now 1-4.  Newton was awarded NFL Rookie of the Month for his performance in September.  In Sunday‚Äôs loss to the Bears, Newton has hit on 97 out of 163 passes for 1386 yards and five touchdowns.

Drew Brees didn't have his usual sharp game, but the three-headed backfield of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas was effective.

Brees completed 31 of 44 passes, Sproles had 75 yards rushing, 56 yards receiving and 57 yards in returns. Jimmy Graham caught 10 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown, His last catch was a 59-yarder.

 Sproles is is a definite upgrade over Reggie Bush. He makes plays in every game.

The victory gives the Saints a three game winning streak, giving them their sixth win streak of at least three games since Sean Payton became head coach in 2006.

"We're going to have to play our best football," said Payton. "We scored for the first time on our opening drive. We need to clean up some things (as the coach says after every game), but it was a good win."

The Saints drove down and scored on their first possession, a nine-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Jed Collins. It was the first time this season the Saints scored on their opening drive.

The Saints outgained The Jaguars 503-274 in total yards, including 177-104 on the ground in their most impressive performance running the ball.

The Saints defense forced rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert into a rough day, as he completed only 16-of-42 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Gabbert was erratic all afternoon, throwing high and missing wide open receivers. He was sacked three times. Brees was taken down twice.

Just after Brees tripped and was sacked by Clint Session, 340-pound defensive tackle Terrance Knighton jumped on top of him. Brees got in a huff, and players from both sides started pushing and shoving. Brees got upset about it because it was a late hit.

On the next play, Brees threw deep to Devery Henderson, who was ruled out of bounds before making the catch at the goalline.

The Saints were forced to settle for three field goals in the second half.

WR Robert Meachem had a strong performance with four catches for 59yards. Ingram had a career-best 55 rushing yards on 17 carries.

S Roman Harper led the team in tackles with eight and a sack. LB Jonathan Vilma had five tackles after sitting out last week with a knee injury.

DE Will Smith sacked Gabbert twice and now has 57 career sacks to rank fourth in the Saints record book for career sacks behind LB Pat Swilling (76.5).

The Saints had problems scoring points because they were unable to punch the ball in end zone as much as they should have. They had to settle for field goals too often, which beat Houston last week. This could be a problem when they are playing better teams.

SOME hither, others yon: Drew Brees on Jaguars QB Gabbert after Sunday's game: "I wished him well. This was only his second start. He made some good throws at times. At the end, our defense did a great job of stalling him. I was a young player once and I know the process of an NFL quarterback. It's one day at a time and you appreciate the opportunity. You try to get better each week. I'm sure every time out he will continue to get more comfortable."

Steve Gleason Gave New OrleansSaints Spark, Gives ALS His Life's Work by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of

by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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