New Orleans Saints Pluck Eagles on the Road, Move to 2-0

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New Orleans Saints Pluck Eagles on the Road, Move to 2-0
(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

All week long, the New Orleans Saints heard the noise.

The only reason they were able to score 45 points in week one is because they were playing the Detroit Lions at home.

No way they'd be able to match that on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Well, they didn't match it. They surpassed it.

Drew Brees and his offensive machine rolled up 41 points on the Eagles, and safety Darren Sharper added a late touchdown on a 97-yard interception return to lead the Saints to a 48-22 victory over the Eagles.

The Saints opening drive, just like last week's, culminated with a touchdown pass to Marques Colston. This one was right over the head of Pro Bowl safety Asante' Samuel.

Colston now has three touchdowns in two games. I'd say he is back from last year's injury.

Devery Henderson later abused Samuel in the second quarter. On third and 12 and on their own side of the field, Henderson hauled in a 16-yard pass right in front of Samuel to keep the drive alive.

That drive later ended, though, when linebacker Akeem Jordan made a leaping, one-handed interception deep in Saints' territory.

While the Saints held just a 17-13 lead at the half, they bust the game wide open in the third quarter.

New Orleans forced and recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff. Eagles' quarterback Kevin Kolb, making his first career start, threw an interception to Scott Shanle on the Eagles' second play from scrimmage in the second half.

The Saints turned both turnovers into easy touchdowns, and a 17-13 lead exploded into a 31-13 lead.

The defense pressured Kolb throughout the day. Even though they only registered two sacks, they forced Kolb to check down to tight end Brent Celek and to throw the ball away to the sidelines on several occasions.

Celek was impressive, as his physical play helped him to a 104-yard receiving day.

The defense did allow 463 yards, but 130 of those yards came on four fourth-quarter drives after the outcome was no longer in doubt.

By the way, the only points on those four drives were scored by Darren Sharper.

 

In my Saints-Eagles preview, I listed three things the Saints must do to win. Let's re-visit them:

 

1) Cut down on turnovers.

Check. The Saints turned it over just once and never fumbled the ball.

 

2) Improve drastically on special teams.

There was an improvement, but it wasn't perfect.

Positives: Forced and recovered a fumble on a kickoff return. Held DeSean Jackson to just five yards on two punt returns after he torched the Panthers for an 85-yard touchdown. Thomas Morstead averaged 52 yards on three punts.

Negatives: Allowed a 63-yard kickoff return which led to a fourth-down touchdown. Morstead kicked the ball out of bounds on an early kickoff.

3) Run the ball effectively between the tackles.

Check again. Mike Bell, who is the anti-Reggie Bush in that he rarely bounces the ball outside behind the line of scrimmage, was good for 86 yards and touchdown.

The only question I have is this: Why is Sean Payton risking a safety by handing the ball off to Bush from the Saints' own 1-yard line?

 

I also posed three questions for the Saints as they headed into week two. Let's see how they were answered them:

 

1) Will Jermon Bushrod improve in his second career start?

He improved but still gave up a sack to Trent Cole. He will have his hands full again next week against Buffalo's Aaron Schobel.

 

2) How effective will the pass rush be?

The stat sheet will show that the Saints got just two sacks on Kolb, but it won't show how many times he had to get rid of the ball quickly by throwing it out of bounds.

All in all, the pass rush was about average and needs to steadily improve over the course of the season.

 

3) Does Reggie Bush bounce back after a poor performance?

Bush had a better game than he did last week when he fumbled the ball twice. He managed 76 total yards and a touchdown. He also had a key 29-yard reception that led to Colston's second touchdown.

He was ineffective, though, as a punt returner. He lost six yards on one of his two returns.

 

Overall, you can't ask the Saints to play much better than they did against the Eagles.  New Orleans committed just three penalties for 13 yards and held Philadelphia to just one touchdown in five trips to the red zone.

They scored 48 points and won convincingly against a good NFC team that was celebrating its home opener.

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