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Browns Stun the Saints 30-17 In the Superdome

This game started off badly for the New Orleans Saints. The Cleveland Browns stepped off the plane ready to play football which is more than I can say for the home team.

The Saints came out flat. Failing to do anything on their first possession, they were forced to punt. That’s when Cleveland started with their systematic dismantling of the defending Superbowl champs. Josh Cribbs, who fielded the punt from Morstead, lobbed it across the field to Eric Wright who then took it 80 yards and deep into Saints’ territory. They had to settle for 3 points because of some solid defensive plays by the Saints, but that score didn’t hold for long. The Saints went three and out and gave the ball right back to the Browns. Peyton Hillis started what would be a productive day for him statwise. He capped off a 56-yard, 4 play drive with a touchdown, giving the Browns a 10-0 lead over the Saints. Hillis had 16 rushes for 69 yards on the day.

At last the Saints got a little offense going and were able to put a successful drive together. Then wouldn’t you know it! Ex-Saint, Scott Fujita, intercepted Brees in the red zone, ending what had been a very successful drive. Fujita had already sacked Brees once and had a couple of key tackles.

But the Saints went on the move again, getting deep into Browns territory. Then as if all the razzle dazzle from the Browns and mental errors by the Saints weren’t ammunition enough, Jahri Evans was flagged for a hands-to-the-face penalty which offset with the same from Shaun Rogers of the Browns, negating a critical touchdown by Lance Moore. The Saints ended up having to settle for 3, making the score 10-3 at that point.

But the Browns weren’t done with the trickery. They ran 67 yards on a fake punt that the Saints clearly weren’t expecting. The defense would, however, hold them to a field goal. The score was 13-3.

Nonetheless, on the Saints next possession, Drew Brees was intercepted on a weird series of events. On a very ill-advised throw to begin with, the ball richocheted off the foot of one of the offensive linemen and was picked off by David Bowens, who literally walked into the endzone from there. Needless to say, the Saints and their fans were stunned at being down 20-3 at home.  Home field was no advantage for the black and gold today.

Still and all, I kept waiting for the Saints to get going offensively. But the Browns defense was unrelenting. Because the Saints couldn’t run the ball the way they wanted, it was clear that Brees was going to have to make enough plays to compensate. As usual, that didn’t work out so well. Trying to make something happen before halftime, he lobbed up what would be his third interception of the half. The score was still 20-3.

The Saints eventually scored a touchdown a few minutes into the 3rd quarter, making the score 20-10 at that point. But the Browns answered right back. They managed to chew up the clock and finish off with another field goal, edging the score up to 23-10.

The Saints weren’t quite done yet though. They put together a very impressive drive that made me wonder where that energy had been all game long. But neither the energy nor any hopes of getting back into this one would last long. Brees threw another bad pass that was intercepted by Bowen and run back for a touchdown. The Saints did go on to score another touchdown, but it was a futile attempt to cap off a dismal performance by Brees and company.

You know, in my last article I indicated that I was worried about the problems the Saints (Brees in particular) would face against another 3-4 defense. For whatever reason, Sean Payton chose to virtually abandon the screen once again. But there was one to Betts in which he picked up some good yardage–even though it was in an impossible situation; it’s hard to pick up 35 yards. Still, in games in which the run has been stifled and it all falls on Brees’ shoulders, the Saints have lost. When will Sean Payton realize this and understand that the screen in some form has to be a staple in the Saints’ offense when the conventional run is off limits? I’ve heard critics say that it makes a team too predictable, but a good screen is hard to defend for at least 5+ yards. I realize that no one runs it like Pierre Thomas, but Betts hasn’t looked too bad on screens either.  At any rate, they need to find a way to supplement or extend the run game if they plan on making it to the postseason because these defensive schemes aren’t going to get any easier.

To be honest, the Saints found plenty of ways to give this game away. It would take a miracle to overcome turnovers and penalties, especially when they lead to quick scores. But you can’t take anything away from the Browns. They came to New Orleans with a perfect gameplan and they stuck to it. Colt McCoy looked like a veteran quarterback all day long and Peyton Hillis was a rushing machine. They didn’t turn the ball over, they mixed things up, and they were physical. And the coaching offensively, defensively, and on special teams was simply brilliant. In other words, they flipped the script on Payton and the Saints. Sure the boys dropped one today that many thought would be a sure win. And what’s worse is that it won’t be any easier next week when the Pittsburgh Steelers (who are arguably playing the best football in the NFL at this point) come to town.

Right now the Saints have two personalities. Last week’s was the good one that comes out sharp and doesn’t make critical mistakes. The one that got torched today was the undisciplined one that comes out and goes through the motions. So far, that second one has shown up far more than it should.  It’s past time for still searching for a fix.  Week 7 is in the books.

I know many would disagree, but I’d say it’s time to sound the panic button. When a team like the Saints comes out lethargic and undisciplined and drops one to a team that is 1-5, that’s a serious situation. At 4-3, we are once again trailing the Atlanta Falcons, who at 5-2 now, are heftily in control of the NFC South. If the Saints aren’t winning games that they should like against Arizona and Cleveland, you’ve got to wonder how they’ll perform against “better” teams (especially the rest of the AFC North). We’re already looking at not only losing the division, but scrambling to even qualify for a Wildcard spot. I’m sorry if this offends some, but it’s a reality. If the Saints don’t step it up, they will be watching other teams in the offseason while they sit home.  It’s a truth none of us are ready to face, I’m sure, but it’s a truth nonetheless.  It’s not to say that I or anyone who agrees with me have lost the faith in the team, but realism is a part of life too.  I know what they are capable of, but they’re just not showing it right now.  All I’m saying is if they don’t get on track soon, it will be too little, too late.

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4 Responses to “Browns Stun the Saints 30-17 In the Superdome”

  1. Marylyn says:

    Very close to what I said too. It’s the harsh truth, like it or not. The Falcons are being called the best in our division because they are playing accordingly. We can’t have two personalities as such and expect things to just fall in place. They have to put things in order, and they need to do it fast.
    I’ll say sound the panic alarm too. We’re about to play one of the top teams in the NFL and this game and the Falcons game has taught us that Home advantage isn’t even in our favor as it use to be in the past. In fact, I might even stoop to saying we may be playing worst at home…but the fact is, the Saints have very loyal fans and we wouldn’t be scratching our heads if we didn’t know their potential. We wouldn’t be so disappointed either if they were playing their hardest, but they’re not. You can’t throw 4 interceptions and expect to win a game. We expect veteran players to not eat us up with avoidable penalties. We expect a Quarterback of Drew Brees caliber to make better and more accurate decisions.
    I believe in honesty and tough love. I’m not going to shoot them down, but i’m not patting them on the back either. Now with that being said, they can WIN the Pittsburg game. Given what we’ve seen, you wouldn’t think that, but THEY CAN, but that depends on what team comes out to that dome next Sunday. The Super-bowl Champs or the Wreck-less team we’ve been seeing most of the season.

    • Marylyn, I really like what you had to say. The Saints are still a very good team. They’re obviously having some issues that they need to work out. But they can still get some key wins and make it into the playoffs. Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. Risha Holmes says:

    The truth hurts, but we may as well keep it real. The Saints were NOT on their game at all today, we know it, and they know it. I am certain they are kicking themselves hard right about now. It was a classic case of being out played & out coached.

    Brees and his 4 (count them) 4 INT’s, not to mention 2 of them were turned into TD’s for the Browns…this is NOT the Drew Brees I am used to watching…leaves me scratching my head as to what the heck is going on! Get it together DREW!

    It does seem that the team has gotten lackluster in their overall attitude, and boy does it show in the lack of execution. Turnovers and penalties, and what do you expect…well, We see the result…
    30-17 and a great big L for our team.

    Looks like the Browns took notes in film school and learned Payton’s play book…gotta give them credit for the hat tricks, because they worked like a charm.

    Our only hope now is to get our starters back for the Halloween game against the Steelers or we are all gonna be yelling BOO DAT!

    • There’s not much to say after this comment. You said it all! It’s almost impossible to win having thrown 4 interceptions, two of which were returned for TDs. That’s the kind of play we used to could count on from our defense. But even defensively, something is lacking from the coaching standpoint (but that’s another article). Thank you so much for your comment. As usual, you had something pertinent to add.

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