Launching deep passes across the Superdome, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints improved to 2-2 in a 31-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
After dropping two close games on the road, the Saints returned to New Orleans and put on a tremendous passing display for the home faithful. Drew Brees continued to show why he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.
Despite missing both Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, Brees was able to find nine different receivers for 363 yards passing. Brees' big day can be attributed to the return of running back Deuce McAllister.
McAllister came into the game with only two carries, but was expected to have an expanded role in the Saints' attack. Expanded indeed. McAllister carried tacklers and pushed piles as he rumbled for 73 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers.
Chants of "Deuuuce" echoed throughout the dome as McAllister leaped over the goal line for his first touchdown in over a year. Every member of the "Who Dat Nation" should be excited to see how the big back's return will affect the Saints.
Another McAllisteReggie Bush is off to his best start since coming into the league.r highlight came in the form of a trick play. On a flea-flicker, McAllister pitched the ball back to Brees, who found Robert Meachem 52 yards down field. Meachem also had a 47-yard touchdown catch.
Receiver Lance Moore also had a career day. In his second season out of Toledo, Moore caught seven passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. These kinds of performances are what make the Saints such a dangerous team.
Losing Colston and Shockey, would seemingly slow down any passing game. However, that hasn't been the case. Brees continues to have an MVP-like season thanks to guys like Moore, Meachem, and Devery Henderson stepping up.
As great as the offense looked, it was even better to see the defense make plays. The Saints spent the offseason revamping the defense, but had yet to see positive results.
Having come into the game with four sacks, the defense recorded six on Sunday against J.T. O'Sullivan and the 49ers. Charles Grant, possibly upset with his alma mater's loss to Alabama, played like an animal with two sacks and several pressures.
The defensive pressure created three turnovers. Will Smith forced an O'Sullivan fumble that was recovered by Jonathan Vilma. Tracy Porter and Kevin Kaesviharn each had interceptions in the end zone preventing the 'Niners from getting back in the game.
If the defense can continue to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks and create turnovers, then the Saints will march right back to the top of the NFC South.
Now, it's time to see how the Saints have fared after four games. The Saints will be rewarded a value from 1-5 with 5 being the highest in the categories of offense, defense, special teams, and coaching.
OFFENSE: The Saints offense gives the team a chance to win going into every game. Drew Brees has been fantastic. He recognizes defenses as well as any quarterback in the league. Reggie Bush is off to his best start since coming into the league. He has become much more consistent as a runner and is among league leaders in all-purpose yards. Grade 4.5
DEFENSE: The Saints have been patiently waiting for the new players on defense to become comfortable with the system. Although the unit as whole seems to be better than last year, they are still too inconsistent. The defense still gives up too many big plays, but improves each week. The defensive performance against San Francisco provides hope for the weeks to come.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Reggie Bush has been able to make plays in the punt return game, including a return for a touchdown in Week 2. Field goal kicker Martin Gramatica has missed a couple of big field goals, but continues to be reliable. The coverage team has been solid.
COACHING: Despite having the most injuries of any team in the NFL, Sean Payton has done a good job of keeping the team competitive. A point of emphasis going into the season was to avoid another slow start. The team comes out of the gates at 2-2 and is determined to weather the storm, as their playmakers get healthy.
BONUS NFL COVERAGE:
- The Tennessee Titans improved to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Kerry Collins has a done a great job filling in for Vince Young and looks to be a better overall quarterback than Young. The Titans defense is among the league's best and could carry the team deep into the playoffs.
- Although Kurt Warner threw for 472 yards, Brett Favre got the best of their faceoff throwing for six touchdowns as the New York Jets beat the Arizona Cardinals 56-35. The Jets are 2-2 and very much alive in a wide-open AFC East.
- It's hard to bet against a Brett Favre quarterbacked team, but the Buffalo Bills are 4-0. Trent Edwards has emerged as a very solid quarterback and Marshawn Lynch runs with the best of them.
- The Washington Redskins gave the Dallas Cowboys their first loss of the year in a 26-24 thriller. The NFC East is the most competitive division in football with the undefeated Giants and 3-1 records for the Cowboys and Redskins.
- Kansas City running back Larry Johnson showed his familiar face Sunday rushing for 198 yards and two scores against the Denver Broncos. The win snaps a 12-game losing streak for the Chiefs and is Denver's first loss of the season.