|Saints shine in 45 to 27 week one victory
|"I am excited about the result and the win," said Saints head coach Sean Payton in his postgame
discussion after his team blasted the Detroit Lions 45-27 in the regular-season opening on Sunday
at the Superdome. "However, there are a lot of things that we did in the game that I told the team will
get you beat. The kicking game, in particular the return game, concerns me. We have to look at the
film and get that cleaned up. That bothers me."
Quarterback Drew Brees passed for six touchdowns (including two to tight end Jeremy Shockey)
Brees' six touchdown tosses were a record performance for an NFL quarterback on opening week,
and tied a club record Billy Kilmer set against St. Louis in 1969. Brees' passer rating was 137.0.
The Saints' defense is better this season and allowed a Lions offense, led by rookie Matt Stafford,
allowed only 231 yards total offense and held Detroit (loser of their last 17
games) to 3-of-14 on third downs while the Saints were 9-of-13. Safety Darren Sharper had two
interceptions and continued to ascent towards to the top 10 of all-time NFL interception leaders.
Mike Bell, the Saints' "preseason MVP" according to Brees, rushed for 143 yards on 28 carries with
Pierre Thomas sidelined (knee). Bush has everything a running back needs except "home run"
speed. Reggie Bush was he starter, but looked skittish, fumbling on offense and botching a couple
of punts. Bell ran with authority all game long, almost always between the tackles, but he also lost a
fumble. Thomas has a challenger for his starting job.
The Saints travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles on Sunday. The Eagles opened with a 38-10 rout
of Carolina, but lost quarterback Donovan McNabb with a broken rib. With suspended quarterback
Michael Vick watching from a luxury suite, Kevin Kolb ran out the clock for the Eagles.
Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports McNabb is out of next week's game, but Eagles coach Andy
Reid said, "there's a chance McNabb could play against the Saints. We're taking it day-by-day and
see how he does." Vick will play for the Eagles the following week.
"I thought our defense was outstanding," said Payton. "We got them in some tough spots and they
responded. And Mike Bell ran it hard, although the one fumble they returned for a touchdown, is
something we can't have. But he ran it hard and we were able to make some things happen on the
:I'm blessed that they gave me an opportunity here," said Bell. "The thing I take out of the game is the
opportunity I had and the great job our offensive line did. The fumble is disappointing to me and I
can't do that."
As for Shockey, while the Saints didn't get him involved early or often (he was listed as probable with
an ankle injury), they got him involved. Twice Brees hit him in the end zone, the second a spectacular
catch pn the back line. That's two more touchdowns than Shockey caught last season. He's healthy
after nagging injuries hampered him last season which means he can add playmaking ability to a
position that has been modest in recent years.
If a late touchdown run by Bush had not be nullified by a holding penalty, the Saints may have
finished the game with more than 50 points. Bush carried only 7 times for 14 yards. Though Bush
added 55 yards receiving on 54 catches, it's obvious that the Saints don't envision Bush as a go-to
back, especially since the guy picked up off the street received more than twice his touches.
Stafford completed 16-of-37 passes for 205 yards and three int receptions.in his NFL debut. The
Lions' top runner, Kevin Smith, gained only 20 yards on 15 carries, giving him an average lower than
Bush's 2.0 yards per carry.
It was a good start, but Who Dats shouldn't order Super Bowl tickets just yet.