Two weeks ago the New Orleans Saints were traveling in rarified NFL territory sporting a 6-2 mark…but two weeks of being generous to opponents have them back to mere mortal status and fighting to keep the top spot in the NFC South Division.
Last week in a losing effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers the Saints offense turned the football over 3 times and the Saints defense were caught off guard by speedy halfback Willie Parker’s 213-yard rushing effort.
This week the Saints offense turned the football over 4 times and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson caught 6 passes for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Those two factors were too much to overcome despite the 510-yard passing efforts of Saints QB. Drew Brees, which is the sixth-highest passing yardage total in NFL history.
The Saints couldn’t overcome the three Brees’ interceptions.
“Our guys are playing with a tremendous amount of energy, but they’re making too many mistakes,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton.
For weeks Payton has preached about the fact that the Saints are losing the most important statistic in football, the giveaway/takeaway ratio.
Entering this week’s game against the Bengals the Saints were (minus 6) in the giveaway/takeaway ratio, which was the fourth worst in the NFL. After this week’s game against the Bengals, the Saints are now a (minus 9) in that category and it has been the unraveling of this football Cinderella story.
What is even more disturbing is the fact that the Bengals entered this game against the Saints with six starters out with injuries, three starters along the offensive line and still Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer managed to pick apart the Saints secondary for 275 yards and three scores and in particular finding star-receiver Chad Johnson in critical situations.
The Saints can’t keep giving ‘early Christmas presents’ to opponents
Cincinnati’s success with deep throws to Johnson opened up the Bengals running game, halfback Rudi Johnson rushed for 111 yards on 27 carries and it kept the Saints defensive front from teeing off on the former USC Heisman trophy winning quarterback.
“Despite the fact that we lost last week to San Diego late in the game, I had a feeling we were back on track offensively,” said Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. “The Saints are a good football team and we knew that if we were going to win this game we had to score probably 30 points or more. We got it done today and I have to really give credit to my offensive line for protecting me well all day and opening up some big holes for Rudi Johnson.”
The efforts of Palmer, R. Johnson and C. Johnson all offset a strong performance by Saints halfback Reggie Bush who rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries and he also caught 8 passes for 58 yards. Former LSU Tiger wide-out Devery Henderson, who was pressed into service more against the Bengals after Saints rookie receiver sensation Marques Colston sustained an ankle sprain early in the game, caught a career-high 9 passes for 169 yards, but he also had two costly drops on deep throws that thwarted Saints drives.
Until the Saints can stop giving early Christmas presents to opposing clubs, the early season euphoria may quickly come to an end, especially with a surging (6-4) Carolina Panther club right on their heels.
Lutcher High School star defensive tackle Rolando Melancon has accepted an invitation to play in the inaugural Offensive-Defensive All-American Bowl in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on January 4, 2007. The 6-2, 280-pound defensive tackle who is being pursued by Tennessee, Ole Miss, Arkansas and LSU is one of only two Louisiana prep standouts to accept an invitation to the national all-star classic along with Hammond High School offensive guard Rishaw Johnson, who has verbally committed to Ole Miss.