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Saints Roll as Sharper, Defense Smother Jets' Sanchez

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Saints Roll as Sharper, Defense Smother Jets' Sanchez
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

So much for losing a step and being too old.

Darren Sharper intercepted two more passes for the Saints to bring his NFL-leading total to five as the New Orleans Saints defeated the previously unbeaten New York Jets 24-10.

Sharper returned the first interception 99 yards for his second touchdown of the season.

The free safety completed his All-Pro performance with a team-high eight tackles.

Sharper, though, was not alone in the role of terrorizing rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Defensive ends Will Smith and Charles Grant each had two sacks to lead the Saints pass rush.

The Saints' second touchdown came when Smith stripped Sanchez in the end zone and Remi Ayodele fell on the ball.

The suddenly stout defense has held an AFC East team to under 250 yards of total offense, forced multiple turnovers, and collected four sacks in consecutive weeks.

This is why Sean Payton used $250,000 of his own money to lure Gregg Williams to New Orleans.

Payton learned from the past two seasons that Brees, as great as he is, would not be able to single-handedly win every game.

He needed to have a defense that would, at the very least, not be a liability.

So far, mission accomplished.

Brees went a second straight week without a touchdown pass and less than 200 yards passing.

In years past, that would spell a two-game losing streak.

This year it means the Saints win both games by a combined score of 51-17.

In my preview of the Saints-Jets game, I listed three things the Saints must do to win. Here they are:

 

1. Run the ball effectively.

Check.

32 carries, 153 yards, and a touchdown. If not for two kneel downs to end the game, the Saints would have averaged more than five yards per carry.

Unless you count the last two plays of the game to run out the clock, New Orleans had three fewer drives than New York and still had a five-minute advantage in time of possession.

I'd say they ran the ball effectively.

 

2. Neutralize tight end Dustin Keller.

Keller was thrown to five times and caught three passes for 31 yards and no touchdowns.

He had one catch for 23 yards but was otherwise ineffective.

 

3. Shake, Rattle, and Roll quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez had two rookie moments in the game and both led directly to New Orleans touchdowns.

The first was when he stared down his receiver in the end zone and threw his first interception to Darren Sharper.

The second was when he couldn't feel the pressure on his blind side as he rolled in the end zone and got stripped.

Sanchez had a bad game, but he showed signs that he's going to be a good quarterback in this league.

 

Questions that were answered in week four...

 

1. How well will the Saints handle the success of starting 3-0?

Very well, apparently.

The Saints came out with a swagger, but did not seem over confident.

Now the Saints are 4-0 for the first time since 1993, and I guarantee that they will remain undefeated after next week. (They have a bye)

 

2. How will the pass protection on the left side hold up?

Much was made about the Saints having to start Zach Strief at left tackle due to injuries to Jammal Brown and Jermon Bushrod.

Streif's name wasn't called once during the game and that's a good thing.

No penalties. No sacks.

Next up, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.

 

3. How will Marques Colston do against Darrelle Revis?

Brees was just 2-for-6 when throwing to Colston and Revis was a big reason why.

Revis has shut down Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Colston in the first four weeks of the season.

He's headed for his second Pro Bowl and is likely the toughest corner the Saints will face all season.

 

For two weeks in a row the Saints have won with defense and an effective running game. I think there's a pattern developing here.

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