The Saints played like Super Bowl champions again and shook the foundation of the NFC with an easy 31-6 division victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Edward Jones Stadium.
Drew Brees completed 21 of 32 attempts for 263 yards and tied a season-best three touchdowns for a 109.2 quarterback rating.
The Saints (4-2) dominated the Bucs (3-2) and outgained Tampa Bay 475-277, including a 212 edge in rushing. The Saints entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL in rushing while the Bucs were 30th in rushing defense.
Rookie running back Chris Ivory rushed for a Saints season-best 158 yards on 15 carries (10.5 avg.). The 158 yards are the most by a Saint since Deuce McAllister totaled 165 at Washington in 2003. It was the most by a Saints rookie since Ricky Williams totaled 179 yards against Cleveland in 1999.
New Saints running back Julius Jones totaled 32 yards on nine carries.
Brees connected with 10 receivers led by Robert Meachem who totaled 71 yards on four catches including a 42-yard touchdown, Lance Moore contributed 57 yards receiving on two grabs, highlighted by a 41-yard score. Marcus Colston had a team-best five receptions for 53 yards.
"It's a long march," said Saints coach Sean Payton.
A big story on Sunday was Ivory, the only rookie from little Tiffin University to gain 150 yards as a rookie. Ivory was only known before as a rookie with good possibilities who fumbled too much. He was also known to the Washington state police. A story broke last week that he'd been charged with assault in a 2009 incident. Ivory allegedly broke a bottle over a some guy's head at a party at Washington State. That might explain why he left Washington State and transferred to Tiffin.
"He just keeps getting better," said Payton. "He's a work in progress."
"I've been working hard at every practice trying get better," said Ivory. "You put the work into it, something good is going to come out of it. I"M trying to take a step every game."
The Saints committed four turnovers, including three interceptions last week. Brees was much sharper this week. He completed eight of his first nine passes. He also had a four-yard touchdown pass to Heath Evans, had one interception and no sacks. The Bucs have a league-worst four sacks and they didn't they didn't hit Brees once.
Ladell Batts scored on a one-yard run after a Bucs onsides kick failed and the announced crowd of 51,759 was chanting "Who Dat!"
Roman Harper led a strong Saints defensive game with seven tackles and two forced fumbles. Malcolm Jenkins had six tackles and two personal foul calls on Bucs Quarterback Josh Freeman for late hits. Danny Clark had five tackles and Marvin Mitchell had the same number plus a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
"The drive and the want-to of this team is unbelievable," said Saints kicker Garrett Hartley who made one of two field goal attempts.
The Saints host Cleveland next Sunday and Pittsburgh the following Sunday.
Payton is too good of a coach for the Saints to sink, Brees is still Brees and there haven't been any major injuries other than the injury roulette at running back.
With Ivory and Jones on hand, the Saints should be fine until Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas return.
SOME HITHER, OTHERS YON: After a spate of stories about young people committing suicide after being bullied at school. Drew Brees has taped an anti-bullying public service announcement. "If you think that making fun of someone is harmless, you're wrong," the quarterback says. "If you think it's OK to do because everyone else is doing it, you're wrong. Bullying has to stop, and it has to start with you. I want my fans to know that if you're making fun of someone because they're different, the you are no friend of mine. And if you are being bullied and you feel like no one supports you, I want you to know there is support. I support you. Making fun of someone because they're different from you? That's not tough, it's ignorant. Appreciate people for how they are different from you. That's what it takes to be a friend."...
Sunday's best bet: Tiger Woods over Brett Favre by 7 sext messages...I'm not saying that SEC football has international ramifications, but my operatives tell me that these were the first words that came from the mouth of one of the Chilean miners after the rescue: " The only person more fortunate than we are today is Les Miles."...And speaking of the of the rescued miners. they are being offered all sorts of gifts and free stuff by people and companies around the world. Reminds me once again of my favorite sports quotes of all-time when former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn gave the 52 released Iran hostages lifetime passes to Major League Baseball. Cracked ardent football analyst Bean Cook" "Haven't they suffered enough!"...How impressive was that Hornets' preseason win over the Heat the other night. Almost as impressive as the jockey who won a pre-race walk around the paddock...
Still hard for me to fathom why such a big deal is being made about the Sports Elevated cover story in which former agent Josh Luchs admitted that he -- wait for it --paid college football players. What next -- a former adademic counselor admitting to writing term papers for players or a former recruting hostess admitting she had sex with players? Tell us something we didn't know...The gal from Baton Rouge, Donna Douglass, who starred on "Beverly Hillbillies," was a recruiting hostess at LSU longer ago than I care to remember. She is a reborn Christian today...
Ole Miss has replaced the controversial Colonel Rebel mascot with a black bear wearing slacks. In other words, the Rebels have gone from politically incorrect to zoologically inconceivable...Nicholls State still has a Civil War colonel as a mascot...And speaking of mascots, Georgia introduced UGA VIII at its homecoming game, a blowout of Vandy. He was shown snoozing in his his doghouse at the stadium. He wasn't the only one having trouble staying awake during the game...Back to baseball: Tampa Rays crowds have been showing up at Tulane football games...Enough?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS POSTGAME QUOTES
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2010
HEAD COACH, SEAN PAYTON
(On the running of Chris Ivory)
“I thought he played solid. He did a real good job. Obviously, he runs hard, he had a ball out and a couple missed assignments, but he just keeps getting better.”
(On the offensive line)
“Yeah, I thought they blocked them pretty well. Just looking at the numbers you will see that on film.”
(On the defenses late movement confusing the Buccaneers offense)
“Well, it’s a good question, because it wasn’t always back to single free, some of the times it stayed in zero. We kind a came in and out of it, and aside from the thirty-yard penalty, we would’ve really liked to come away with the shutout, but we will see that on film and take a close look at it and see if those two calls were correct.”
(On the two personal foul penalties)
“Both of them were personal fouls. Look, I am not going to say one word about the officiating regarding today’s game. It was explained to me that there were two personal fouls, both on Malcolm (Jenkins).”
(On what he said to Malcolm Jenkins)
“I didn’t say anything. I’m going to watch the tape first so I make sure that we can see that.”
(On why Stanley Arnoux was ejected)
“Listen, we will have a chance to see it. Obviously, the overall control of the game was a concern late and I think that is the responsibility of the officials, but we will see it on film.”
(On his speech to his team during the week)
“Just the point was this, look, each week you come in and it’s early in the season. Shoot, I know it was just in the question, but you brought the crisis word up a week ago, and that’s what happens in our business and then it’s reported that, that’s what I said. So the point I am making is, it’s a long march here and it’s important that they do see the areas in regards to rushing, for instance, statistically, the last two games. Or defensive yards given up rushing, ‘cause it’s easy to say, look these are the areas that we haven’t been as good at and clearly we needed to address that, but it’s important that they keep chopping wood and getting better. They did a good job this week really eliminating the distractions, you know, the white noise.”
(On improving on getting the ball down field)
“That wasn’t anything different today, hit some big plays though and that was good. So, certainly, I thought we threw it well and caught it well, and we had a couple other big opportunities, but overall they played well.”
(On Garrett Hartley missing a field goal)
“No, hey, listen there were a lot of mistakes, so to answer your question, no. He is going to get back out there, he is not going to be perfect, but I like the way he is hitting it. I thought he handled the kick off responsibility well.”
QB DREW BREES
(On scoring the past five of six first drives of the games this season)
“You know, that is always important. You script those plays and you are always wondering. You study all the film and you wonder how are they going to play us, and so I think it is a great sign of just how well prepared you are and how you have been able to adjust quickly in that first drive as to what they are doing. It is something we take pride in. I feel we have been good at it, since Sean [Payton] has been here, since we’ve all been here. And it is a great way to start off the game. Hey seven nothing or three nothing. Just points right off the bat.”
(On offensive line and comfort in pocket)
“I was very comfortable. They did a great job. Let’s not forget the run game. Rushing for over 200 yards. Chris Ivory getting 150 of those.”
(On making job easier)
“Any time you can run the ball effectively, it seats up a lot of your play action. It allows you to be very balanced. You possess the ball, so you’re using up the clock. I think you are wearing down the defense. Especially when you can go down and get points and keep your own defense off the field, keeping them well rested. So a solid running game is definitely important.”
(On two long TD passes early in the game)
“That was big. That was big. Especially early on. Especially since in both those drives, and more specifically on that set of downs, we had gotten penalties, whether it was offsides or delay in game. It set us back. Then, all of a sudden, we get a big play touchdown. So those penalties didn’t hurt us. On those drives, in fact, it allowed us to call some plays to get the ball down the field. Great job by Lance [Moore]. Great job by [Robert] Meachem. Just the ability to hit on some big plays early on, I think it really sets the tone and gives you confidence and gives momentum.”
(On grading offense each week)
“I felt like we played very well all the way around. When you look at the pass game, run game, just overall efficiency. Third downs were 75%. That’s fantastic. You know, as I look at it, hey, we had two fumbled balls out, that thankfully went out of bounds. I had the interception that was tipped, obviously. Sometimes that is going to happen, unfortunately. Other than that, I thought in every other phase we were very good.”
(On mindset and preparation after loss in Arizona)
“Any time you have a game like Arizona [Cardinals] where you feel like it is definitely a game you should win and just no one plays well. You squander opportunities. That is frustrating and disappointing. You just can’t get back on the field fast enough. So our mindset all week was, let’s focus on the process of great preparation, great week of practice and go on the road and win a big divisional game, and that’s what we were able to do.”
LB JO-LONN DUNBAR
(On running the ball and stopping the run as primary goal)
“That’s something we’ve been saying for the last couple weeks. We’ve given up a lot in the run in a few games and our offense has struggled a little bit in the run. It’s one thing we’ve been trying to get better at and that’s something we happen to get better at today. Just working at it, staying focused on it, and being diligent in our work."
(On Chris Ivory)
“Oh he’s good, he’s good; he’s going to be special. He’s physical, fast, he’s strong, and he runs low with his pads. He’s a good guy. I’m just looking forward to see him grow.”
FB HEATH EVANS
(On RB Chris Ivory)
“You see the big run. You’ve seen stuff in practice. You see glimpses of this burst that he has, and of the strength to carry it like he did today and to break tackles. We know he can carry the ball, we just got to get him to continue to work on his other details. Because he could be an elite back, or he could be a good running back. I want him to be an elite back, because those guys pick up blitzes, those guys catch balls out of the backfield, those guys could be on the field on first or third down and those kids kind of come as a project. Because he’s got a want-to, he has a will to learn. Coming into this league is tough. Our offense is probably one of the toughest ones I’ve been involved in, verbiage-wise, Drew in the huddle giving up things like that sometimes I’m like ‘what did you say?’ and I’ve been at this ten years. But he’s doing well. He’s got a will to learn, and that’s what you ask for.”
CB MALCOLM JENKINS
(On the game)
“We almost got the goose-egg except for my fault but, we’re definitely pleased on how we played on offense, defense, and special teams.”
(On the play involving the late hit on Josh Freeman)
“Nobody threw a punch at me, after I hit the quarterback, the whole sideline came over pushing and shoving, and they called another flag on me. That’s how it rolls sometimes. I’ve never seen anybody get a penalty for 30-yards before. I don’t know what happened, a couple guys grabbed me up and pushed me around, I pushed back and they threw another flag on me. It happens.”
(On the disappointment missing interception opportunities)
“Probably two or three interceptions, but it’s a disappointing thing that I didn’t come down with any picks today, but I definitely had some chances.”
WR ROBERT MEACHEM
(On beating a Buccaneers safety for a touchdown)
“Actually, I think he just didn’t see me. Basically, I don’t think he saw me.”
(On how it felt to get more downfield plays in the passing game)
“I’m just happy we got a W. That’s the most important part. Our running game stepped up tremendously. That’s what helped the passing game. I give my all to the o-linemen, and the running backs, running the way they did today, because that really helps balance our offense. That’s what helped us in the past, and I feel that’s what’s going to help us in the future.”
(On if he is frustrated with his production in the offense)
“Can’t get frustrated. Got to find a way to get open. Got to find a way to do what you do. God gave me a gift. It’s on you to use your gift, and figure out how to use it against the opponent you run into that week. It is frustrating because as the offense, we are a high powered offense. That’s the frustrating part, because we didn’t get things going the way we wanted to go, but, you also have to think about it, we do have W’s. So that’s the plus.”
WR LANCE MOORE
(On scoring on the first drive)
“That’s something that we try to do every week. You want to set the tone, you want to come out, you want to drive right down the field, and usually want to score touchdowns; but the main goal is to get points and we were able to do that today.”
(On scoring from outside the red-zone)
“Anytime you get a chance to get a shot over the defensive back’s head, it’s good for the offense, and definitely makes the numbers look good for Drew [Brees], right there.”
(On being open for his touchdown)
“It was just something we saw on film. The way that they play their cover 2 defense, sometimes the guys on the outside might be open; kind of the same thing happen with [Robert] Meachem on his touchdown. You got to be ready for the ball, Drew [Brees] threw a perfect ball and touchdown.’’
T JON STINCHCOMB
(On the pride of the offensive line)
“We’re a very committed group. We take a lot of pride in what we do. There is only one way to answer critics, and that’s to go out there and put together a good performance. We don’t have a bunch of whiners and complainers on this group. You’ve got to go out there and perform. That’s our approach. We consistently view that as a challenge to step our game up.”
(On if he has seen this talent from Saints’ RB Chris Ivory)
“We have, even in preseason. He’s a guy we were just hoping that when it’s live bullets, he could provide that extra burst, and obviously today he was able to do it.”
(On how he views Ivory)
“With Reggie [Bush] and Pierre [Thomas] down right now, to have three backs that we have confidence in, to come in the game and perform at a high level, that speaks volumes to our entire organization for finding guys to come in here to step in, and step up. For those three individuals, to prepare themselves in a way that when they’re called upon, they’re going to answer the call.”
LB JONATHAN VILMA
(On if the swagger is back for the Saints’ defense)
“I don’t like to use the word ‘swagger’ until you start stringing two, three, four games in a row where they’re dominant performances. Right now, we like where we’re at. You’re only as good as your last game, and we like where we’re at. Of course we’ll make the corrections and improve on that and just try to get better.”
(On how bad he wanted the shutout)
“I wanted it bad. I hadn’t had one since my rookie year. That one hurt, you know we were literally a play away from getting that shutout. That one kind of hurt. Later on there will be 13, hopefully we get to the playoffs, but 13 more chances to do it.”
(On practice this week)
“The best thing we did was have fun in practice. I remember our Friday practice we had a lot of fun. We hadn’t had that in a while. Practice is practice, we got after it, and we were just enjoying ourselves. It showed today, we were out there just enjoying ourselves and had fun, played hard, played fast and the scoreboard just took care of itself.”