Close One In St. Louis

Posted: November 22, 2009 in Saints

NEWORLEANSAINTS.COM————————————————————————————————————–St. Louis, MO – The New Orleans Saints improved to 9-0, matching their longest winning streak in team history, and started a season for the first time ever with a 9-0 record by hanging onto a lead and downed the pugnacious St. Louis Rams, 28-23.

Reggie Bush scored two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving), Courtney Roby added a 97-yard touchdown via a kickoff return and Drew Brees hit Robert Meachem on a 27-yard scoring strike to account for the Saints’ scores.

Reggie Bush leaps into the end zone for 6.

Bush sparked the Saints’ running game with six carries for 83 yards, including a career-long 55-yard dash, and combined with Mike Bell and Pierre Thomas as the Saints pounded out 203 yards on the ground for a 7.0 average on 29 carries. QB Drew Brees was 18-of-26 passing for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for an 89.1 passer rating. St. Louis was led by the powerful running of Steven Jackson, who rushed for 131 yards on 26 carries (though only gained 31 yards rushing in the second half) and QB Marc Bulger’s 298 yards passing on 40 pass attempts with 26 completions. Defensively the Saints depleted charges were led by eight tackles each from S Roman Harper and LB Jonathan Vilma, with LB Scott Shanle adding six stops while DT DeMario Pressley and DE Charles Grant each added five tackles. FS Usama Young intercepted his first pass of the season in place of the injured Darren Sharper, who was injured and inactive for the contest.

“I was pleased we got the win,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “It was a closer finish than I would have liked. And the turnovers will come back to bite us. I think it goes without saying that your entire roster has to be ready to play. I was pleased with how they responded, particularly the secondary.”

CB Randall Gay, with four tackles, summed it up by saying, “A win is a win in this league. It’s tough to win any game, much less one on the road. It’s never easy. The records get thrown out when you line up. We just passed the halfway point of the season and there is still a lot of football to be played. We will stay focused on just taking it one game at a time. It’s worked for us so far.”

Linebacker Scott Fujita said, “Steven Jackson is a hell of a running back. It was clear they wanted to run on first and second downs and pass on thirds. But the thing to take out of the game is that we won and now we turn our attention to Tampa. Everyone is dangerous and it’s a division game next week.”

St. Louis won the coin toss and elected to receive. Saints LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar tracked down kickoff returner Danny Amendola down at the Rams’ 13 yard-line. After tight Saints coverage on first down, DE Charles Grant was flagged for lining up in the neutral zone, which moved the ball to the 18. RB Steven Jackson then found a hole off the right side of the Rams’ line and scampered 30 yards before being tracked down by DT Anthony Hargrove. Bulger then hit a quick slant to WR Brandon Gibson for a gain of eight yards, but the Rams were guilty of a second down illegal procedure call, which cost the home team five yards. Jackson picked up three yards on second down, but the Rams were halted at their own 49 when tight coverage and heavy pressure on Bulger by the Saints’ front four caused the quarterback to throw the ball away. Punter Donnie Jones hit a wobbly 21 yard punt out of bounds to the Saints’ 25.

Mike Bell took the initial carry of the game and picked up three yards, then RB Reggie Bush took a pitch off the right side of the line and bolted 16 yards to the Saints’ 44. Bush nearly broke a diving tackle attempt and broke into the clear but was stopped before he could do more damage. RB Pierre Thomas then took his turn off the right side and managed a gain of three yards to the 47. FS O.J. Atogwe picked off Brees’ first pass of the game, intended for TE Jeremy Shockey, after LB James Laurinaitis collided with Shockey on what appeared to be a fraction of an instant before the football arrived. Atogwe then returned the pass to the Saints’ 47 before being tackled by TE David Thomas.

Will Smith strips the ball from Marc Bulger.

Will Smith strips the ball from Marc Bulger.

LB Scott Shanle stopped Jackson for no gain on first down. On second down Bulger connected with Jackson for a gain of eight yards and the Rams converted the third down with a seven-yard completion to WR Donnie Avery. Jackson then made a big open field move and picked up 13 yards to the 19 and added an additional two yards on the next carry. On a second down and eight from the 17, Bulger tried to hit WR Keenan Burton in the end zone, but FS Usama Young glided over from the middle of the field and intercepted the pass and raced up the sideline for a 24 yard gain to the Saints’ 22. It was Young’s first interception of the season and the third of his career.

Brees’ first completion of the game came on a roll-out pass to TE David Thomas for three yards. Bush then picked up three yards on a second down carry. Shockey and Brees then hooked up for a completion of eight yards to the Saints’ 36. Bell picked up three yards, then Thomas added another three yards on consecutive running plays. On third and four Brees dropped back and found a wide-open Thomas for a gain of 18 yards to the Rams’ 40. The players then two connected on first down for a gain of one yard. Bush bounced a run back to the inside and picked up three yards to the 35. Brees found Henderson for a gain of 21 yards to the Rams’ 14 on third down, with Henderson finding a gap in the Rams’ zone coverage. Pierre Thomas picked up two yards on a rush off the right side before being brought down by the back of his shoulder pads. Bush then leaped over the middle of the Saints’ offense line for a gain of three yards to the St. Louis nine yard-line. It was the last play of the first quarter, with it also marking the first time this season the Saints have been involved in a scoreless first quarter. Brees found Thomas for a third down conversion for six yards over the middle of the field. On the next play Bush opened the scoring with a three-yard run up the middle to give the Saints a 6-0 lead, and after John Carney’s extra point, the Saints led 7-0 with 14:14 remaining in the first half.

The Rams began their third drive of the game at their 25 and picked up a 14 yard gain by Jackson, followed by a seven yard gain by the big running back out of Oregon State which was followed by a 19 yard completion from Bulger to TE Randy McMichael. Jackson then added an eight-yard carry before being replaced by reserve RB Samkon Gado , who took a handoff and gained three yards and a first down. Gado then was stopped by DE Will Smith for no gain on a pitch to the left side of the Rams’ line. Smith then sacked Bulger and stripped him of the ball, but Jackson was able to recover the loose ball. On a third-and-15 from the 29, Bulger lofted a pass to the sideline in the end zone and WR Donnie Avery ran underneath the aerial and managed to tap both of his feet down for the game-tying touchdown with 9:23 left in the second quarter.

The Saints, following a 23-yard kickoff return by Courtney Roby, started their drive with the ball on the Saints’ 28. The Saints caught the Rams off guard when WR Robert Meachem took an end-around on first down and raced 41 yards down the sideline for the team’s longest run of the season to that points and Meachem’s longest career run. Thomas then picked up three yards to the Rams’ 28. Brees and Henderson hooked up again, this time for a gain of 13 yards to the 15. Brees’s pass attempt to Thomas was foiled due to backside pressure from second-year defensive end Chris Long and a second-down screen play was spoiled by the Rams’ defense. Brees, though, found Bush on a crossing route on third-and-ten and the speedster took the pass and bolted across the field and made a sharp cut and dove to the pylon for his second touchdown of the afternoon, which gave the Saints a 14-7 lead after Carney’s second extra point of the game.

The Rams then started at their own 27 and picked up six yards on a pass from Bulger to Gibson. Saints DT Remi Ayodele jumped offsides and was flagged for a five-yard penalty, which gave the Rams a first down and the ball moved to the 38. Jackson smashed over the left side of the lone for a five-yard gain. On second down DE Charles Grant and Ayodele teamed up to split a sack of two yards on Bulger. Bulger then converted the third down with a 16-yard pass to Gibson along the sideline after CB Randall Gay slipped when making a cut. Jackson picked up two yards, then Bulger hit reserve TE Billy Bajema for a gain of 12 yards. DE Bobby McCray stopped Jackson for no gain to the Saints’ 29 and the Saints called their second timeout of the half with 3:00 left.

DT DeMario Pressley then stopped Jackson for a loss of one-yard on second and eight and on third down but the Rams crossed the Saints up with a draw to Jackson that picked up 13 yards to the Saints’ 15. Jackson then picked up two yards and the Saints called their final timeout, but Jackson picked up a first down on a cutback run to the five yard-line on an eight yard run. Jackson then added two yards and the Rams called a timeout. Jackson finished the 13-play, 73 yard drive with Jackson bulling his way into the end zone for a touchdown run that tied the game at 14 all with :55 left in the second quarter. The Saints were unable to pick up a first down against the Rams and elected to punt the football away with just seconds remaining in the half. The half ended following the punt that was returned for just 10 yards yards by Amendola with S Pierson Priloeau making the tackle for the Saints.

New Orleans accepted the opening kickoff to start the second half and received a shot in the arm when return man Courtney Roby sprinted up the middle, made one move to his left and raced 97-yards untouched for his first career kickoff return for a touchdown. It was the Saints’ first kickoff returned for a touchdown since the 2004 season when Michael Lewis accomplished the feat.

Reggie Bush leaps into the end zone for 6.St. Louis began their first drive of the second half at their own 28 and picked up a 20 yard gain on a completion to Gibson. On the play Saints second-year CB Tracy Porter needed to be helped off of the field after colliding with Young. The Saints’ defense held, though, and forced a St. Louis punt that Bush fair caught at the Saints’ 16 yard-line.

Pierre Thomas slammed his way through a hole in the middle of the line for an 11-yard gain to the 27 to start the Saints’ drive. Brees then play-action faked and came out and hit a wide open Henderson over the middle for a gain of 26 yards the Rams’ 47. Thomas was stopped for no gain on the next play. On second down Brees tried to hit Shockey over the middle but S James Butler intercepted the overthrown pass and returned it 17 yards to the Rams’ 40 with 10:57 left in the third quarter.

Jackson managed a yard on a first down, but Bulger missed his intended target on second down. A third down pass to Gibson was converted into a first down for an 11-yard gain and on the ensuing first down Jackson picked up eight yards to the Saints’ 40. The Saints’ front appeared to have Bulger in trouble, but he stepped up in the pocket and found TE Daniel Fells for a 19-yard completion to the 21. CB Malcolm Jenkins then broke up a pass intended for Avery, but on second down Jackson slipped a tackle at the line of scrimmage and picked up seven yards to the 14. A third down pass intended for McMichael was broken up by SS Roman Harper and the Rams settled for K Josh Brown’s 32-yard field goal that closed the Saints’ lead to 21-17 with 7:08 left to play in the third quarter.

After a touchback the Saints started at their own 20 and Bell picked up two yards. Bush then took a handoff and bolted through a small hole for a 55-yard run, the Saints’ longest run of the season and the longest run from scrimmage of Bush’ career. Thomas then added a gain of two yards and Colston took his first career carry on a six-yard end around to the Rams’ 17. Thomas then followed T Jon Stinchcomb around the right end for a gain of nine yards and a first down. Brees then hit Colston at the three yard-line and the big receiver attempted to vault into the end zone, but a timely hit by Atogwe jarred the ball loose and the football rolled out of the side of the end zone for a touchback.

The Rams, starting at their own 20 after Colston’s fumble, started their next drive with 3:33 left in the third, but were guilty of an illegal formation call on the first play of the series. Jackson then was stopped by Grant for a loss of a yard back to the 14. On second and 16 Bulger hit Jackson out of the backfield but Harper immediately cut him down for a loss of a yard. The Saints surrendered a short completion and tackled Avery short of the first down sticks and forced Jones to punt.

Bush fielded Jones’ 43-yard punt and had a 13-yard return negated by a holding call on CB Leigh Torrence, thus the Saints started at their own 23. Thomas picked up six yards on a first down carry, and a second down completion between Brees and Henderson added 12 more yards to the Saints’ totals. The third quarter ended with the football in the Saints possession and with the ball at the 41.

Brees then hit Pierre Thomas on a delayed pass out of the backfield for a gain of five yards to the Saints’ 46. Backup tight end Darnell Dinkins was flagged for an illegal procedure call,  which set the Saints back five yards, but Brees picked it right back up with a 16-yard completion to TE David Thomas, his fifth-reception of the day, which tied-his career-high for most receptions in a game. Brees then found Colston for a gain of nine yards over the middle of the field. FB Kyle Eckel picked up his first carry as a member of the Saints and bulled his way forward for a seven-yard gain and a first down. Brees then play-actioned faked and found Meachem behind the cornerback and safety on a post pattern and laid the ball right on his finger tips for a touchdown that gave the Saints a 28-17 lead with 12:15 left in the game.

After a touchback on a booming kickoff by Morstead, the Rams started at their own 20 and tried a handoff to Jackson that Grant stopped for a two-yard loss. LB Scott Fujita then stopped Jackson after a two-yard gain. A third down dump off pass to Jackson was halted by the Saints’ defense and the Rams once again were forced to punt. New Orleans took possession at their own 24 yard-line with 10:13 left in the contest and holding an 11-point lead.

Bell took a handoff and cut back inside for a gain of a yard. Brees then fired a deep sideline pass to Shockey for a gain of 25 yards that took the ball to midfield. St. Louis was then guilty of an encroachment infraction, and the Saints countered on their next play with a six-yard run by Bell to the Rams’ 39. Brees tried a roll-out pass to Henderson but the two could not connect as Brees was hurried and unable to set his feet properly. Bell then took a handoff around the left side of the line for a hard-earned gain of three yards. Brees tried to hit Pierre Thomas on a dump off pass but the ball was batted down by a Rams defensive lineman. Thomas Morstead was called into punt but was run into by Rams S Craig Dahl, which brought on a five-yard penalty and on fourth and two, the Saints tried to get the Rams to jump offsides, but the Rams wouldn’t take the bait and the Saints called timeout to regroup. Head Coach Sean Payton sent the Saints offense right back onto the field and tried a power run inside with Eckel, but he was stopped for a loss of a yard and the Rams took possession of the ball at their own 32 yard-line.

After a first down incompletion by Bulger, Jackson picked up a nine-yard gain to the 41. A third down pass intended for Amendola was dropped as he turned up field and was unable to secure the ball. The Rams elected to go for it on fourth down and the Saints returned the favor when Will Smith dropped Jackson for a loss of a yard at the St. Louis 40.

Mike Bell fought through a hole in the middle of the line for a gain of five yards to the St. Louis 35 on first down, and then Thomas went over the left side of the line for a gain of a yard. On a third-and-four at the 34 Brees was sacked by second-year man Chris Long for a six-yard loss. P Thomas Morstead’s effort sailed into the end zone for a touchback and the Rams took possession of the ball with 4:24 from their own 20. Vilma tackled Jackson for a loss on one-yard on a pass, and then Bulger hit Gibson for a 23-yard completion to the 42. Bulger then found Fells for a gain of nine yards to the Saints’ 42. Bulger continued to fire away, this time hitting Fells down the seam for a gain of 23 yards before being brought down by Harper at the Saints’ 19. Bulger, with 2:44, found Avery down the sideline for a touchdown pass/ The Rams went for the two-point conversion, but Harper broke up Bulger’s pass to Fells in the end zone. The score after the touchdown and failed conversion was 28-23 in the Saints’ favor.

The Rams attempted an onsides kick, but Colston coolly came out and recovered the kick and hit the turf at the Rams’ 42 with 2:43 left. Mike then Bell went over the right side of the line for a gain of six yards and Saints eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark for the second time this season in a game (the other time was at Buffalo in week three). St. Louis called their last and final timeout after Thomas picked up one yard to the Rams’ 35. Brees’ pass intended for Henderson was off the mark and Morstead came on to punt and sailed a kick into the end zone for a touchback.

Jackson picked up six yards to the 26 on the last play before the two-minute warning. Bulger then scrambled on second down for a gain of seven yards to the 33. A blitzing Malcolm Jenkins decked Bulger on a first down pass that was incomplete. A second pass dump off pass to Jackson picked up six yards and a third down pass attempt into the flat badly missed its mark with 1:21 left. On fourth-and-four Bulger fired a pass into the flat for Gibson that was ruled a catch, but appeared to skid off the ground. The officials ruled that the play needed to be reviewed by the replay booth and after a few minutes of review and tense moments on both sides of the ball, referee Gene Steratore ruled that the nine-yard completion stood and the ball was on the Rams’ 48 with 1:05 left.

Bulger then hit TE Randy McMichael for a gain of 11, then a reception for no yards to Jackson as the time ticked off the game clock. A second down pass attempt deep down the sideline hit Malcom Jenkins, who had tight coverage on Avery, in the back and fell incomplete. A third down dump off pass to Jackson ate up more valuable time but the Rams were able to get a final pass attempt into the end zone off, but the Saints broke the pass up with a gaggle of Saints defensive backs in the area and the Saints improved to 9-0.

NEWORLEANSSAINTS.COM————————————————————————————————————-

Neworleanssaints.com.”Saints Down Tough Rams 28-23, in St. Louis”. 11/15/09. 11/22/09. http://www.neworleanssaints.com/Articles/2009/11/Saints%20at%20Rams%20Game%20Story.aspx

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s