We now know that the New Orleans Saints are for real. They thrashed, smashed, and lambasted the Patriots, 38-17. Saints be praised, they did it without a clutch PI call, like that other currently unbeaten team always seems to get, and need. Whats' scary about this Saints team is that they were able to accomplish this rout despite playing with four of their starting players...Reggie Bush and Lance Moore on offense, and starting CBs Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter on defense.
Unfortunately, I must move on to the Patriots, who embarrassed themselves on national television tonight. Their pathetic effort gave notice to the football world that they will be nothing more than playoff fodder in January. Here are my grades:
: Having been held to just 17 puny points against what was a patchwork secondary speaks volumes as to the play of the QB, WRs, and, especially, the OL.1.) QB:
This performance rivals that of the game 2 loss in NY to the Jets, for Tom's worst game of the season. After a wonderful initial drive gave the Pats an early lead, they appeared to be on their way to taking control of the game. But then, Brady was flushed out of the pocket, and threw the ball right into the hands of 34 year old Mike McKenzie...just called up to be a Hank Poteat-type stop-gap in the injury riddled Saints' secondary. It was all downhill from there. The inspired Saints' front 7 was able to harass the Terrific One for the remainder of the game...even at times by rushing just three players. As a result, the happy footed Brady finished with just 21 completions for 237 yards, for a woeful 6.6 yards per completion...with two interceptions, no TDs, and a meager 55.0 QB rating:GRADE: D-;
Laurence Maroney ran hard early, and scored the two Patriots' TDs. He finished with 15 carries for 64 yards (4.3 yards per carry). But, for the 3rd straight game, Maroney fumbled. Fortunately, the Patriots weren't hurt by this turnover, as the Saints fumbled the ball back to the Pats on the same play (thanks in part to some good hustle by Maroney). NFL RBs are worthless if they fumble. It may be time to remind Maroney of this by introducing him to some "pine time". Kevin Faulk made a couple of nice runs and pass receptions, but was never really a factor in this blow-out:GRADE: C;
Horrible job by the big guys up front...somewhat reminiscent of their performances in the Pats' 21-0 loss in Miami in December of 2006, and the game with the roman numerals against the Giants in Arizona. The Saints' outside rushers were constantly able to apply pressure to Tom Brady...even when the Saints chose to rush only three men. Though this unit only allowed 2 sacks, the Saints were able to register 7 QB hits. Rookie OT Sabastien Vollmer was sorely missed: GRADE: F;
4.) WRs and TEs:
The Pats' TEs were worthless as both blockers and receiving options tonight. As for the WRs, Sam Aiken led the Pats with 7 catches for 90 yards, including a pretty 33 yard play. But, when Sam Aiken is this teams' leading receiver, its' time for concern. Randy Moss, save for one long Brady heave of 47 yards, was completely shut down by the Saints' depleted secondary. Worse, the Saints became the first team this season to neuter Wes Welker, as the Wild, Wild Wes was held to just 6 receptions for a paltry 32 yards.GRADE: D;
With just 50 plays, the Saints amassed 480 total yards. Thats' an average nearly 10 yards per play.
Need more be said?1.) DL:
Seemed to be on roller-skates for most of the game. This group applied absolutely no pressure to Drew Brees...nor were they able to get a push in the pocket to make it difficult for the diminutive Brees to see downfield. GRADE: D-;
ILBs Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo had their share of tackles. But most of those came after the Saints RBs had gained at least 4-5 yards. The OLBs applied little if any pressure, save one second half sack by Adalius Thomas. The Saints exposed the prime weakness of the Patriots' defense...its' inability to generate a pass-rush, and their mediocre at best secondary:GRADE: F;
CB Lee Bodden should have quit while he was ahead, after picking off Mark Sanchez three times. He, along with the rest of this group were torched, Duane Starks style all night long. Though Saints QB Drew Brees only completed 18 passes in 23 attempts, he was able to throw for a whopping 371 yards. Thats an average of 16.1 yards per completion, and five (5) TDs. Saints' WR Marques Colston caught 4 passes for 121 yards, an average of 30.3 yards per catch; Devery Henderson had 3 receptions for 116 yards, an average of 38.7 yards per catch;
and Robert Meachem hauled in 5 passes for 69 yards (13,3 yards per catch). The Pats' secondary seemingly took lessons from the Jets' secondary on how to cover...as many times Saints receivers were wide, wide, wide open. The lowest point came in the 3rd quarter, as the Pats pulled to within a TD of the Saints, 24-17. It took Brees and company just 3 plays to counter that TD. This was the worst performance that I have seen from a Patriots' secondary since the Drew Brees led San Diego Chargers routed the Patriots in Foxborough, 41-17, in 2005.GRADE: F-
C.) SPECIAL TEAMS:
Aside from poor coverage on the initial kickoff, and a missed 50 yard FG, this was one of the few areas in which the Patriots appeared ready to play. Disappointing miss by Stephen Gostkowski, considering that the long FG attempt was made indoors. Kudos to Wes Welker for his 41 yard punt return...one of the few bright-spots in an otherwise midnight blue team performance. Decent kickoff returns for a change from Mathew Slater:GRADE: B-;
Are the Patriots as bad, particularly on defense, as they appeared? If there were any lingering doubts as to why BB decided to go for a 4th and 2 deep in his own territory in Indy, they were laid permanently to rest tonight. Whatever happens the rest of the season, it is clear that the Patriots must land a pass-rusher in the offseason. No matter who a team has playing in the secondary, if a good QB has ample time to throw, he'll pick a defense apart...particularly with the Polian passing rules in vogue. The only way to consistently stop the pass is by applying pressure, pressure, pressure!!
One must wonder if DC Dean Pees is feeling the heat?
For whatever reason, the Patriots did not execute on either side of the ball. Once again, their offense laid an egg in the second half. Surely, his teams' performance was as great a disappointment to BB, as it was to Patriots' Nation:GRADE: F
E.) PLAY OF THE GAME:
For the Saints, there were several. There were completions of 75, 68, and 38 yards to the wide open Saints' WRs. But, my choice is the Mike McKenzie interception of Tom Brady. That play gave the Saints the momentum they needed to turn this game into a rout;
G.) GAME BALL:
Here are the unfortunate stats. Read 'em and weap: http://espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=291130018