|Saints Defense Generates Two Scores in Win over Jets
|10/4/09: The Saints used a touchdown-scoring defense and the running of Pierre
Thomas to defeat the New York Jets 24-10 on Sunday in the Superdome, proving
they belong in the class of the NFL with the Giants, Colts and Vikings.
Defense is no longer a dirty word when discussing the Saints. Now it's the buzzword.
In a meeting of the unbeatens, the Saints defense The Saints (4-0) are in sole
possession of first place in the NFC South and are the toast of the NFL. They joined
the Colts, Giants, Vikings and Broncos are the league's only remaining undefeated
teams. The Saints have a bye next Sunday and then host the Giants, who play the
Raiders this Sunday. I should be another meeting of the uinbeatens..
Broadway Mark Sanchez's excellent rookie adventure came to an end as the Saints'
defense forced him into four turnovers. Safety Darren Sharper turned one of his two
interceptions into a club-record 99 yards for a touchdown. Defensive end Will Smith
forced a fumble in the end zone to produces a second defensive touchdown. That
fumbled was recovered by Remi Ayodele.
Sanchez's passer rating of 21.1 was the lowest for a Jet since 2006. The Saints'
defense outscored the Jets team and the Saints' offense 14-10.
Saints rushers, led by Thomas, gained 153 yards.including a game-c;inching 1-yard
touchdown with with 6:07 left in the game. A fourth-and-offside penalty was the killer
for the Jets.
Drew Brees was 20-of-32 for 190 yards with no touchdowns for the second week in a
"Give out defense the credit," said Brees in his postgame discussion. "We wanted to
run the ball effectively, keep our defense on the sidelines and manage the ball and not
turn it over. We were balanced and we did what we needed to win."
|"We knew we going into this game that this was going to be just this kind of game,"
said Saints coach Sean Payton. "We knew it was going to be physical and we
challenged the team to rise to the challenge. We did that."
The Saints 'defense answered the Jets' physicality with its own physicality. Defensive
coordinator Gregg Williams spent the week leading into the game emphasizing that
this game would be a 60-minute fight,and nothing short of out-hitting the contact-loving
Jets of Coach Rex Ryan would get the job done.
"We knew it was going to be physical matchup, and we matched them physically, beat
them to the punch on every play," said Saints linebacker Scott Fujita. "We knew we
had to win the fight to win the game."
The Saints' offense was No. 1 in the league going into this game. The offense now has
scored 144 points, an average of 36. The Saints have given up 66 points, a 16.5
average. The defense is allowing 12.5 points per game.
Saints defensive end Charles Grant, who is returning to his former form, had two of the
Saints' sacks and six quarterback hits. "We were the better defense," was Grants' take
on the game. We won the battle."
Payton paid Williams $250,000 out of his own salary to become defensive coordinator
of his team. It has paid off richly.
"I knew it was a perfect fit when they hired Williams,' said Sharper, who epitomizes the
Saints on-field production more than anybody. Sharper's 10th career touchdown on
interceptions return put him second behind the NFL's career leader Rod Woodson
(12). "One of my strengths is reading quarterbacks snd knowing what they're trying to
do with the football. This defense takes the handcuffs off."
"The truth is, the team played well enough to win and I let them down," said Sanchez.
"My mistakes killed us. It's 10-10 without three interceptions and a fumble."
"The kid (Sanchez) looked like a rookie today," said Ryan, who was being kind.
"Mark Sanchez is still a rookie, and he's proven he can play in this league, but you
have to take the bumps and bruises with it," said Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, one
of the league's top cornerbacks.
With the Giants coming town next on Oct. 18, at the Who Dats thinking about a New
Maybe, because these aren't the Saints that I have covered since 1967.