October 04, 2009
In the Saints' season opener, Drew Brees(notes) threw for an opening day record six touchdown passes as New Orleans beat the Detroit Lions, 45-27. No surprise there -- Brees is one of the NFL's most productive quarterbacks, and he's been expected to put his team on his shoulders as the Saints win without defense or a consistent running game. The next week's win, a 48-22 blowout of the Eagles, was more of the same. Brees threw for three more scores and the Eagles gifted the Saints' defense with their almost comically ineffective Wildcat variations.
Against the Bills in week 3, things started to change. In a 27-7 win over the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Saints looked more like the smashmouth team they've never been under Brees and head coach Sean Payton. The blitzes and other defensive sets of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams tied the Bills in knots, and running back Pierre Thomas(notes) gained 126 yards on the ground -- all in the second half, by the way -- and two touchdowns to Brees' 172 passing yards and no touchdowns. All of a sudden, the Saints were a team that could win without the best efforts of their quarterback.
If there was any question that these aren't the Saints of 2007 and 2008, Sunday's 24-10 win over the Jets should put the doubters to rest. Not only did Brees get shut out by New York's excellent defense, but the Saints' defense actually outscored their offense. Anyone who remembers the nightmares of Reggie Wayne(notes) burning Jason David(notes) for touchdown after touchdown might not believe it, but New Orleans had the defense that turned Rookie wunderkind Mark Sanchez(notes) into a pumpkin. Safety Darren Sharper(notes) returned a Sanchez pick 99 yard for a touchdown, and end Will Smith(notes) forced a Sanchez fumble in the end zone that was recovered for another score. The Saints are now that most dangerous of teams -- they can beat you convincingly with a surprising defense, a newly defined running game, or the best quarterback in the NFL.
Pick your poison! After a bye, the Saints welcome the Giants into the Superdome to see if they can knock off another undefeated New York team.
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