N.O. Saints defense gets a "Sharper" image
The talk leading up to the New Orleans Saints versus the New York Jets was the showdown between one of the leagues top offenses against one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Well guess who showed up to the party?
In the Saints 24-10 win over the Jets it was the Saints defense that dominated the affair. For all the talk of the Saints high powered offensive attack it has been the stellar play of the Saints defense the past two weeks that has really caught everyone’s attention in the NFL.
In jumping out to a 17-0 first half lead it was the Saints defense that put two touchdowns on the board.
Veteran free safety Darren Sharper continues to show why he has to go down as one of the top free agent signees in Saints history. The former Minnesota Vikings safety intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass and brought it back a Saints record 99 yards for a score.
The interception was Sharper’s 59th during his career and it was his tenth interception for a touchdown which now puts him second overall in NFL history for interceptions for touchdowns behind NFL Hall-of-Famer Rod Woodson.
If Sharper is not a future NFL Hall of Famer I would be shocked due to his great ability to read and recognize what a quarterback wants to do with the football and then he puts himself in position to make a play on the football.
After a Saints offensive drive stalled out at the one yard line the Saints defense came through again.
Defensive end Will Smith jarred the football out of the hand of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and defensive tackle Remi Ayodele fell on the football for a touchdown.
For the first time since December of 1998 the Saints had scored 2 touchdowns on defense and basically sealed away a victory by jumping out 17-0.
In this space over the past two seasons I have talked about the lack of production coming from Saints high-priced defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant, but the last two weeks this tandem has come to play in a big manner.
Against the Jets Smith and Grant combined for 7 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, one forced fumble and 4 quarterback sacks.
Now that is making an impact statement.
Another free agent pickup cornerback Jabari Greer is having a terrific initial season in a black and gold uniform. The former Buffalo Bills cover-man made three crucial pass break-ups in third down situations to aid the Saints defensive dominance.
And let’s not forget about rookie punter/kickoff ace Thomas Morestead. Morestead averaged a solid 38 yards per punt Sunday, but he did not allow the Jets to return any of his 5 punts because of his great hangtime. On kickoffs the dangerous Leon Washington was also derailed because of his outstanding ability to put air under the ball and his only kickoff return netted just 17 yards. Four of Morestead’s five kickoffs went for touchbacks.
It was a total team effort despite the Jets very strong defense limiting Saints quarterback Drew Brees to just 190 yards passing.
But that very strong defense could not slow down the Saints rushing attack which for the fourth straight week continues to impress.
Against one of the league’s stingiest defensive units against the run the Saints rushed for 153 yards on 32 carries and helped set the tone of the second half.
The Saints are 4-0 hitting the bye week and the eventual showdown again with a New York team. Next weekend the Saints will face probably another unbeaten New York team in the Giants.
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