Clay A. Smith
If you believe that there's such a thing as a moral victory, than what would you classify Sundays' inexplicable "dramedy of errors" in St. Louis as? The Saints pulled out the victory, thanks to some much needed heroics from Courtney Roby and everyone's surrogate fall guy, Reggie Bush-but it fell well short of the one sided mercy killing that everyone had expected it to be. Remarkably, in a 28-23 point"nail biter" that wasn't decided until the final play of the game, the league's number one offense was outgained (420-to- 434 yards) and gave up 23 points (more than twice as much as St. Louis' season average) to a 1-8 Rams' team that boasts the league's lowest scoring offense.
The Saints are beyond resting on their laurels. Sunday they showed a sort of lethargic complacency that could be easily construed as disinterest. Its hard to find fault in an undefeated team, but the effort just wasn't there. New Orleans was held scoreless for the first fifteen minutes of the game by a defense that's typically known for giving up points in bulk.
Their depleted secondary played as such, not only allowing the catch, but allowing St. Louis' conspicuously unidentifiable corp of third string receivers to shake free for critical conversions. Among them most notably, Donnie Avery, whose two touchdown catches doubled his season total. When Avery and the rest of the Rams' motley crew of receivers weren't schooling the Saints' reserves, RB Steven Jackson was bullying Saints' defenders like he forgot his lunch money.
Jackson had a 131 rushing yards-the third consecutive week that the "Black and Gold" had been left black and blue by a punishing down hill runner. The Falcons' Michael Turner had 151 rushing yards and a score in week eight followed by the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams, who had 149 yards of his own with two scores in week nine. Before that the Miami Dolphins tag team tandem of running backs (Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown) combined for 128 on the ground.
Even worse than their woes against the run, the Saints have been coughing up the ball with alarming regularity. Drew Brees's two interceptions and Marques Colston's fumble into the end zone gave the Saints' thirteen turnovers in their last four games. And the rash of injuries to their secondary which include Jabari Greer, (groin) Darren Sharper, (knee) and most recently Tracey Porter (MCL) has made them vulnerable against the pass. Fortunately, the Saints have the 1-8 Buccaneers in week eleven. But in a league where there isn't always a lot separating the "haves" from the have "nots" its hard to look past anyone. The Rams proved that Sunday. The Saints can only hope the Bucs are a little more cooperative.
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This looks great.