Monday, 20 December 2010 15:13

New Orleans Saints Trail Falcons, Not Out After Ravens Win

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Ed Staton, Bayoubuzz SportsThe Atlanta Falcons clinched a playoff spot on Sunday, but not the division title or the No. 1 NFC seed, and the wild-card race remains unsettled. The Saints can lock up a postseason berth with a win in either of their two remaining games.  However, winning the division or the NFC first seed appears to be a very difficult task due to the New Orleans Saints loss on Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens.

"We're still a confident team," said Brees. "As confident as team in the league."

The Ravens got a monstrous game from Ray Rice as he ran through the Saints at will on Sunday. Rice, a third-year running back, had a season-high 152 yards rushing on a whopping 31 carries (4.9 average), with touchdowns both on the ground (10 yards) and via passing (17 yards). Rice hadn't ripped off a run longer than 30 yards this season, but he had a key 50-yarder against the Saints who weekly give up a lot of yardage to good running backs. The Saints travel to Atlanta next Monday night in the NFC showdown the Who Dat Nation have been waiting for since the Falcons upset the Saints in the Superdome after Garrett Hartley missed an infamous 27-yard field goal try...I haven't seen a better catch than Lance Moore made with a deflected pass on Sunday. How Moore ended up in a position to catch the ball is a mystery. The ball was intended for Marques Colston. Brees originally called a screen pass to Jeremy Shockey, but a defender had a bear-hug on him and the quarterback had to get rid of the ball. Brees didn't see the play he watched it on the replay because he was on the ground when the play was made...

THERE are some of us still looking at the bright side of the Saints' run to another Super Bowl despite not having the home-field advantage this season.  Here's why: The Saints are now on course to be the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs. If that happens, they play the worst division winner, arguably, in NFL history, because the NFC West winner could be a 7-9 team as the fourth seed.



What others thought

Mike Preston, "New Orleans came into Baltimore talking a lot of smack, but their actions didn't match up with their talk. By the end of the third quarter, the Ravens had taken a lot of the yap out of the Saints, and that was the result of being physical. New Orleans receivers feared catching some passes over the middle because of some of the early contact.

"The biggest sissy of the Saints was Reggie Bush. He may have had more yardage backward than running straight ahead. He may have remembered that game a couple of years ago when he got tackled by Ravens linebacker Bart Scott who asked for a little bit of hot sauce to go along with his digestion of Bush."

SAINTS CHATTER: Coach Sean Payton (On bad tackling and Ray Rice) "We're doing the same thing we've been doing. There's a couple of penalties that hurt us in those situations. They rushed the ball pretty well today. He's very very good , back and he ran well today."

(On holding the Ravens to field goals):That's what we've done all season. We actually expect that. We don't make any bones about it."

(On giving up three touchdowns in a row) "That was a tough first  half. Unfortunately, it's one of those things we just have to swallow it. We've got to look at the film and get it right."

Quarterback Drew Brees (On what the Saints can take away from this game) "We came into a hostile environment  today, and we needed to find a way to win. We've been a great road team all year. We had our chances, but the Ravens played very well)

(On the next game at Atlanta) "The next two games are very big. They don't get any bigger.  We play two divisional opponents (Atlanta and Tampa Bay). We control our destiny, and we have a lot to play for. It's too early to look at the playoff picture right now, but if we are a wild card team, the road to the Super Bowl will be on the road. We can handle that."

(On the touchdown pass to Lance Moore)  "I was actually throwing the ball to Marques Colston. He's 6-5 and was being covered by a 5-9 cornerback, so I liked my chances. The play was supposed to be a screen pass to Jeremy Shockey, but he was being bear-hugged. It was a lot of pressure on me, so I just threw it up for Marques. He tipped it and Lance made a phenomenal catch. He has awesome body control, and it was a heady play. I didn't see it until they showed the replay because I was on the ground. It was amazing that he was able to stay in bounds."

(On the end of a winning streak "We played a great team on the road today, and we came up short. We did some good things, we just didn't enough of them. We won six in a row, now we just need to finish it off with two more wins."

RAVENS CHATTER: Coach John Harbaugh (On the game) "That was a great football team. You can see why they are world champs. They do not quit playing. That was a big win."

(On Ray Rice) "Tremendous. How may yards did he get? He broke tackles, he made people miss. The Saints are one of the best stripping, tackling team in the league. That's their trademark, causing turnovers. Our guys did a tremendous job of protecting the football. If you want to put the win on one thing,  that was probably the difference in the game."

Running back Ray Rice (On what win says about his team) "I can't be more proud of our team. Ray Lewis spoke to the team last night, and his message to the team....You've got  a guy who played 15 years and gave all  his blood, sweat and tears. I was joking with the offensive linemen and told them “I only need 102 yards to a get a 1,000, let's make it happen”.

"To do it against the defending champs and come away with a W, it was just a great effort. That's two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons."

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. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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