A perspective from the Times-Picayune - Printable Version
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A perspective from the Times-Picayune - JDaveG - 09-27-2010 11:03 AM
New Orleans sportswriter says:
New Orleans Saints defense couldn't get off field vs. Atlanta Falcons
Published: Monday, September 27, 2010, 7:26 AM
John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune John DeShazier, The Times-Picayune
There was no way to pretty up the defensive showing, so no one bothered to try.
ovie_mughelli.jpgChris Granger/The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, bottom right, and cornerback Jabari Greer struggle to stop Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli during Sunday's 27-24 overtime loss to the Falcons, who rushed for 202 yards.
The New Orleans Saints lost a 27-24 overtime gut-punch to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the Superdome for a lot of reasons. High on the list was the simple fact that when they absolutely had to, they couldn't get a stop.
Sure, the Saints would've stolen a game they hadn't earned if Garrett Hartley had converted one of the chippiest of chip shots, a 29-yard field-goal attempt with 9:02 left in overtime. They'd have wriggled off the hook for the second consecutive game, following a 25-22 victory in San Francisco in which Hartley made the winning field goal as time expired.
And Hartley, who bounced back admirably from his season-opening misery of two missed field-goal attempts in a 14-9 win over Minnesota -- will be expected to rebound from Sunday's gaffe. No one wearing a Saints uniform should've felt worse Sunday night, and likely won't feel worse today.
But the defense certainly didn't look to pass along blame, and rightfully so.
Atlanta (2-1) tied for first place in the NFC South by jamming 82 plays down New Orleans' throat, by converting half of its 18 third-down attempts, by making good on two of its three fourth-down tries.
"There are so many other plays in the game that we could have done better defensively, offensively, and not put our kicker in that situation, " said linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who had 11 tackles.
Specifically, the defense could've bowed and made a stop.
Instead, on the Falcons' winning drive in overtime -- 12 plays, 52 yards that lasted 7:02 and led to Matt Bryant's 46-yard field goal -- Atlanta converted on third-and-5 from its 25 (pass interference on cornerback Jabari Greer) and on third-and-1 from the Saints' 46 (a 3-yard run by Michael Turner).
Given that, it really didn't matter that New Orleans (2-1) forced a three-and-out on Atlanta's first overtime possession, or shut down the Falcons on a critical fourth-quarter possession that allowed the offense to drive for the field goal that forced overtime.
When all the chips were shoved to the middle of the table, Atlanta's offense produced the hand that won the pile.
"That's a big momentum shift in their favor (after the missed field-goal attempt) but at the same time, our job as a defense is that whenever we're asked to go on the field, to stop the offense, " defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis said. "And we didn't get that done when it counted the most.
"It doesn't matter how many times they ask us to go out there. It's still our job to stop the opposing offense. On this team, we don't count snaps and blame and make excuses. We just go out there and play football, and when it counted the most at the end of the game, we didn't get it done."
It doesn't get more simple, or true, than that.
That's not to say the Saints didn't do some good things defensively. They got to a quarterback (Matt Ryan) no one figured they could get to, sacking him twice, once by Ellis and once by defensive end Will Smith, to end Atlanta's first drive in overtime.
They pressured him several more times, and the fact is if Hartley hadn't yanked his gimme to the left, all assessments would've had to include the disclaimer that the Saints still were undefeated.
But they absolutely didn't do enough good things.
"It ended up being a long day, " Coach Sean Payton said. "They had a lot of snaps to defend. Certainly we would have liked to force them to punt at some point (on the winning drive). We struggled. We struggled stopping them in the run game, really. It was pretty clear."
Crystal clear. As is this: When an opponent pops off 82 snaps -- including an if-you-don't-like-it, do-something-about-it 50 rushes for 202 yards -- and you don't produce a fumble recovery or interception on any of them, and they gain 5.1 yards per play, the chances of winning have to be so minimal, they're infinitesimal.
Toss in a 50 percent conversion rate on third down, and what's left is what happened to New Orleans.
"(Third-down stops) has been a problem, but we've been winning, so the media may overlook it and see it as not an issue, " Vilma said. "But we've been addressing that as an issue, and we need to get better at it. We've got to get better."
And they've got to do it fast.
It's no secret that opponents know the best way to stop the Saints' offense is to keep it pinned to the sideline. Atlanta flexed a 45:50-27:15 advantage in time of possession.
The only way New Orleans counters that is to get off the field on defense, and hand its offense more opportunities than it did Sunday.
"I think in a lot of situations in this game they didn't do anything to earn the first downs they got, " Ellis said. "A lot of times it was (us), killing ourselves with mistakes and penalties.
"We played some awesome football (but) when it counts, we have to (muscle) up and play football our way. You can't look for the next guy to make the play. You have to go out there and try to make it yourself, against your guy."
That's going to be the best way for the Saints to pretty up their defensive showings. It's going to be the only way.
John DeShazier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3410.
Apart from Sedric Ellis' whining about how we didn't "earn" 3rd down conversions (which is silly), this was a well written article that seems to belie a lot of the BS going around the national media.
RE: A perspective from the Times-Picayune - phocis850 - 09-27-2010 11:35 AM
Quote:"I think in a lot of situations in this game they didn't do anything to earn the first downs they got, " Ellis said. "A lot of times it was (us), killing ourselves with mistakes and penalties.
RE: A perspective from the Times-Picayune - JOEinPHX - 09-27-2010 11:52 AM
Ellis comes off as a bit callow with that remark. But Vilma knew better.
RE: A perspective from the Times-Picayune - Jesus - 09-27-2010 12:13 PM
(09-27-2010 11:52 AM)JOEinPHX Wrote: Ellis comes off as a bit callow with that remark. But Vilma knew better.
Yea we probably should have drafted Ellis rather than Ryan. Like a lot of pundits predicted.
RE: A perspective from the Times-Picayune - RnB - 09-27-2010 09:09 PM
Thanks for the article JDave.
Its great seeing a more grounded perspective. I dont pay attention to alot of the national stuff after wins, losses, or before games. I enjoy reading quality articles though even if it does come from a rival's reporter.
RE: A perspective from the Times-Picayune - DaMeatTrough - 09-27-2010 09:18 PM
(09-27-2010 12:13 PM)Jesus Wrote: Yea we probably should have drafted Ellis rather than Ryan. Like a lot of pundits predicted.
Most were saying Dorsey.
RE: A perspective from the Times-Picayune - cnasty - 09-27-2010 10:02 PM
As someone else stated somewhere, we also laid a blueprint to beat them for other teams to follow. Pound the ball down their throat. Keep Brees off the field. Win the game.