By Clay A. Smith
To borrow a phrase from the epic classic Rocky Balboa, the Saints "got on the job training in courage," in their 46-34 point win over the Dolphins. Okay, perhaps characterizing any of Sylvester Stalone's cinematic undertakings as a classic or an epic is both objectionable as well as grounds for immediate institutionalization. But as I sat in awe of what the Saints had done in Land Shark Stadium Sunday, those were the only words that came to mind.
The Saints went into their locker room at halftime, humbled by a Miami team that at 2-3, weren't at all impressed by their flawless 5-0 record. A team of lesser character would have almost certainly packed it in after trailing by as many as three touchdowns before the break. And who could blame them for resting on their laurels a bit? There's no shame in going 5-1, and the first twenty-eight minutes could not have been scripted any worse for the "Black and Gold."
In all, Saints' quarterback Drew Brees was sacked 5 times and was under duress practically the entire first half. Dolphins' LB Joey Porter was on Brees like they were sharing a jersey ,and whenever Miami unleashed its vaunted Wild Cat offense, New Orleans could offer little resistance. Worse than that, the Saints having never trailed in '09, found themselves in unfamiliar territory after an early Bress interception -behind.
After converting the first of three Brees interceptions into a 7-0 lead, former Saints' RB Ricky Williams scored his second TD of the game on a 68 yard run, putting Miami up 14-3. An eight yard scamper by RB (slash Wild Cat officianato) Ronnie Brown gave Miami a 21-3 advantage and seemed to be the proverbial nail in the coffin.
However: having shown no signs of life, with two seconds left before the half, stalled at Miami's one yard line, with no time outs, and their field goal unit already lining up to kick for three, the Saints caught a break. Miami, perhaps themselves caught off guard by such a conservative call, took a time out -enabling Brees to lobby to head coach Sean Payton for one more shot at a touchdown. After a one yard sneak by Brees, the Saints pulled within fourteen (24-10), but more importantly, proved that they could take Miami's best shot and still keep moving forward.
The team that walked off of the field at the half looked more like the Saints of old, so unaccustomed to holding success that they fumbled it away the first chance they got. But the team that showed up for the second half looked more like the team that we'd seen the first six weeks of the season.
New Orleans came out and attacked Miami from every angle. After allowing their quarterback to get knocked around for the better part of thirty minutes by linebacker Jerry Porter and the Dolphin's "D", the Saints' offensive line dug in their heels, allowing Brees time to engineer pivotal scoring drives. And although you'd never know it by looking at the score, the defense actually played well too.
Safety Darren Sharper and corner back Tracy Porter both had interceptions for scores. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma had a game high ten tackles and helped limit Williams to just eighty total rushing yards (most of which came off his 68 yard run). When all was said and done the Saints had held the leagues number one rushing attack to 137 yards (nearly 40 yards under their average) and fought their way back into what appeared to be an upset.
But what best encapsulated Sunday's dramatic win, was TE Jeremy Shockey's 66 yard catch and run that set up a spectacular touchdown on a reverse by RB Reggie Bush. Shockey turned what was already a huge thirty yard catch, into a point of reference that the Saints would use to rally around, carrying Dolphin's safety Gibril Wilson for thirty extra yards, it was clear that Shockey would not be denied-and nether would the Saints.
SAINTS SAINTS SAINTS: WWL-TV's Bradley Handwerger takes a look at what the national media are saying about the 6-0 New Orleans Saints.
Though the New Orleans film community is rapidly growing, the crowd at the screening seemed uniformly bemused at Cages balls-to-the-wall performance, and appreciative that the movie managed to capture New Orleans as a mysterious, colorful, violent place without a single shot in the French Quarter. There were no shadowy saloons, no gaudy voodoo queensCage is the burlesque here. The audience proudly bore witness to how each element of their townits locations, its actors, its own mythwere used to bring out his performance, all too happy to provide the scenery for him to chew on.
Elsewhere, CinemaBlend shoots down rumors that the movie is going straight to DVD; it'll have a "limited release" before coming to your TV in Feb. 2010.
PUT ANOTHER CANDLE ON THE SLOT MACHINE: Harrah's New Orleans turns 10.
ALL BARK: The Canadian Press looks at the controversy over street barkers in the French Quarter:
On Tuesday night Ashley Roy, a 19-year-old college student dressed in shorts and a snug sweater, stood mindfully on the threshold of Jester Mardi Gras Daiquiris hawking a tray of shots with names like "Buck You Up," and "Sex on the Beach."
"The cops said I can't sell shots on the street anymore," Roy said. "I don't know why. But it hasn't really hurt my business. A lot of guys still come over and buy."
("Buck" You Up?)
Ditka doesn't buy that junk. He was a major Sarah Palin supporter during her run with presidential candidate John McCain in 2008.
Palin/Ditka 2012! Who's with me?!?!
Starting tonight at 7 p.m. in the New Orleans City Council Chambers, Councilwomen Shelley Midura and Stacy Head are asking for the publics participation in the upcoming city budget hearings. The councilmembers are holding the joint town hall meeting not just for residents from their respective districts, but for anyone who is interested in the budget process. Mayor Nagin has been reporting that there will be an expected $68 million deficit in this years budget.
Midura held a meeting with reporters in which she explained how she and Head have been reaching out to neighborhood associations, church and community leaders in their districts in order to make their voices heard in council budget hearings, which will begin on November 6.Midura stressed that the city budget is the biggest problem facing New Orleans, and that the budget should reflect the publics wants and needs, but that will only happen with greater public participation in the budget hearings.
Thats how you can wield influence, by the more people you have, Midura said.
Head did not attend yesterdays meeting, but aides say they have contacted and invited 20 neighborhood associations along with other local leaders. Midura has held two meetings with neighborhood association presidents in her district, and is hoping that these associations will send representatives to monitor the budget hearings, ask relevant questions and make their wishes known to the council. Midura and Head also plan on holding weekly budget review meetings, where residents will be encouraged to discuss various sections of the budget and what spending priorities should be.
Meanwhile, Mayor Nagin has been holding meetings of his own with hundreds of city employees to provide information on the 2010 budget. Nagin, along with his budget and finance offices, told city department heads and staffers about possible changes to healthcare coverage, a citywide 10 percent cut, a hiring freeze, a reduction of non-essential services and other reductions.
POW!: Rep. Charlie Melancon, way behind in the polls for the 2010 Senate race, comes out swinging against Sen. David Vitter:
If a company wants to receive taxpayer dollars, they should not be able to force victims to give up their constitutional rights as a condition of employment.
David Vitter has refused to explain why he voted to allow taxpayer-funded companies to sweep rape charges under the rug. We can only guess what his reasons were.
Vitter punches back:
If Charlie Melancon is truly 'shocked' that David Vitter would vote against this amendment, one can only imagine his thoughts on President Obama and Obama's Department of Defense having the exact same position on this amendment as the Republicans - which they do.
OUR MAN IN HAVANA: More blowback on C. Ray in C.U.B.A.
THE NEW K-VILLE?: NBC is developing a new show set (but not shot?) in New Orleans:
"Nola," from writer Diane Ademu-John ("Medium"), revolves around a down-on-his-luck private investigator and a charismatic ex-con capable of being inhabited by ghosts who become unlikely partners to help solve the problems of New Orleans citizens, living or dead.
Yeah, well, good luck with that.
MEDIA AT WORK: The CNN crew stinks on ice when it comes to Celebrity Jeopardy!; top anchors Wolf Blitzer and Soledad O'Brien managed to lose to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and one of the Desperate Housewives. (Blitzer's final total: $-4,600.)
A CNN flack explains
"They are reporters, not trivia experts. And the buzzer is complicated."
Have a nice day.
30TH ANNIVERSARY PARADE SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2009
Start: Armstrong Park. Proceed up N. Rampart to S. Rampart. Continue to Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.
Stop: Clear Head Learning Center, 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. Proceed down O.C. Haley Blvd. Right on Jackson. Left onto Simon Bolivar. Left onto LaSalle to Washington Avenue.
Stop: Washington & LaSalle (Family Ties. Up Washington. Right onto Loyola to make a left on Foucher.
Stop: The Other Place, 3601 Foucher St. Proceed up Saratoga St. Right on Louisiana Ave. Proceed up Louisiana.
Stop: Louisiana Ave. and Magazine St. Proceed up Louisiana Ave. Right on Tchoupitoulas St. Continue down Tchoupitoulas.
Disband: The Rock Bottom, 3801 Tchoupitoulas.
Clay A. Smith
"Trap Game"- an ostensibly winnable contest, usually following a physically and or emotionally taxing win, that has all the makings of a potential upset. The Saints are riding high after their 48-27 drubbing of the prematurely anointed New York Giants in the Super Dome this past Sunday. Suddenly, the NFL's perennial cellar dwellers have become marked men, with teams circling the Saints on their calendars instead of casually glancing over them.
Now media darlings, New Orleans is taking their number one ranked offense (averaging 38.4 points a game) and their ninth ranked defense (fifth against the run) into "Wild Cat" country. However, just as the teams before them, New Orleans will soon find out that the Dolphins' running game is a different animal altogether.
The architects of the Wild Cat offense, Miami has made the unconventional a staple in their overall offensive attack. Widely viewed as a "gimmick", most teams have adopted some variation of the Wild Cat, and it'd been reported that in preparation for Sunday's match up, the Saints have used Reggie Bush on their scout team to recreate it. But nobody does it like the boys from South Beach and they have the numbers to back it up.
Miami is the number one rushing team in the NFL (177 ypg) and held their own against some of the league's top tier teams. If the rule is "you're only as good as your record," than the 2-3 Dolphins are the exception. Of their three losses, which include at Atlanta , at home against Indianapolis , and at San Diego, only the under achieving Chargers have a losing record. Despite losing a close one to the undefeated Colts (27-23), the Dolphins used their ability to run the ball and stop the run to dominate time of possession. For the game, the Colts had the ball for less than a full quarter.
Sure Miami has their share of problems. They're not 2-3 for nothing. The Dolphins aren't very good against the pass (ranked 26th), which plays directly into the hands of Saints' head coach Sean Payton. And the inception of the Wild Cat in and of itself is symptomatic of Miami's inefficiency in their passing game. Still, at tenth in the league the Dolphin's the "D" is among the league's best when it comes to stopping the run (behind #1Arizona and #2 Pittsburgh). But what should be even more unsettling for the "Black and Gold" is the fact that they'll be visiting a Miami team that has had an entire week to game plan for them. If you don't think that that's a big deal, just ask the Giants. They know all about that.
For years I railed against the garish lighting, canned segues, Stepford cadences and nervous paper-shuffling of TV newscasts. Then, with one cheery "Welcome to the WWL morning family!" from the charming Rob Nelson, I melted and became one of them. Every Thursday morning at 7:45 a.m., catch Rob and I counting down the weekend's hottest activities. Or, if you happen to feel that's a godforsaken hour when no human should be awake, let alone on camera (start the letter campaign, please), you can read all about it here, in your skivvies and stubble, at the crack of noon like a normal person. Gambit's 3-day-weekend rundown for Oct. 23-25:
8 p.m. Saturday at the AllWays Lounge
7:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m. Saturday at Westwego Performing Arts Theatre
10 a.m. Saturday at the Green Project
(Look for the Gambit Q&A in next week's Green Matters)
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