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Blogs

Soundbites from Brees in Hawaii

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/27/2012 – 1:32 am

QB Drew Brees spoke with Fran Charles and Marshall Faulk on NFL Network at the NFC’s Pro Bowl practice on Thursday.

Watch the interview here.   

Below is a transcript of the interview.

On being in the Pro Bowl…

“Obviously, everybody here would like to be somewhere else right now but this is the next best place. It’s a reward for a hard-fought season for all these guys. It’s certainly a tremendous honor to be named to the Pro Bowl. It’s a great opportunity for us to come out here and practice all week together. You get to know some guys that you watched from afar and have a lot of respect for. Now we have the opportunity to work with them and talk shop. That’s fun.”

On his family being with him in Hawaii…

“My wife Brittany and my two sons Baylen and Bowen are here. Baylen just turned three and Bowen is 15 months old. That’s next level now (laughter.)They are running around everywhere and trying to keep up with those two is wild but it’s a full-time job.”

His thoughts on losing to the 49ers in the playoffs…

“We had done such a good job all year long, especially the latter half of the season, of protecting the football. I think our success and amount of points showed that. So to go on the road against a very good opponent in the 49ers in the playoffs and then turn the ball over, that just diminishes your chances of winning significantly. Despite the five turnovers, four in the first half and one in the third quarter, we still had a chance in the end to win that game. I know the last four minutes of that game were exciting as it could be for fans – back and forth, back and forth. All you ask for is a chance to win in the end and we had it but obviously they made more plays than we did.”

On how surprised he was by the amount of turnovers in the 49ers game…

“You are doing all the things you said you wouldn’t do right? Then you look up at the scoreboard and it’s 17-0 at the start of the second quarter and you are thinking ‘This is not the way it was supposed to be. This is the not the way we drew it up.’ We have been in those situations before where you are down but you have enough confidence, character and leadership on your team that you know you can overcome that. Sure enough, we did. We went into halftime down 17-14.  We came out in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, and made a run at it. We took the lead with 1:40 left in the game and thought we were right there to take the victory.”

On when he thinks his record for most passing yards in a season will be broken…

“The game continues to evolve. I believe that records are made to be broken. I assume that (passing yards in a season) record will be broken but hopefully not for a while (laughter). Hopefully it is something I can hold onto for a while. At some point it is going to be broken again because the game continues to evolve. Each person along the way who has set these records and just been a part of those moments in history, those deserve to be frozen in time and respected for what it was at the time. It’s certainly a special accomplishment and something we can all share in. it’s something I will remember forever. That moment on the field when we broke the record, all of a sudden the offensive line is grabbing me and I am not sure what just happened but I assumed that we broke the record. Those are memories for a lifetime. The bar and standard that Dan Marino set with all of his records…gradually you have seen Brett Favre break some of the career marks. Peyton Manning breaks the touchdown record and then Tom Brady breaks it a few years later. Those records are made to be broken. I will be excited in the future when some other young buck comes up and breaks it.”

On his relationship with HC Sean Payton…

“Sean is such a competitive guy and obviously he has played the quarterback position. I know this – Sean Payton gave me an opportunity when a lot of people were not there to give me that opportunity. Back in 2006, coming from San Diego with the shoulder injury and everything else. I just remember sitting down in a room with him and him looking me in my eyes and telling me how much he believed in me and how I was the guy that was going to lead this team; we were going to build this offense together and do some special things. To look back six years ago and say ‘Wow, look how far we have come’ maybe sitting here at the Pro Bowl is a time to reflect on that a little bit. I hope that we have many more years together and I am sure we will. He has helped me develop so much, not only as a quarterback but as human being. I owe him so much for that.”

On TE Jimmy Graham…

“Jimmy is a special athlete. It doesn’t you long to see that when he walks in a room at 6-6, 260 pounds. He looks the part and then you watch him run around a little bit, jump and catch balls and then you say ‘this guy is the real deal.” What I love about him most though is his passion for the game. This fire and really this chip on his shoulder that I feel is always going to be there because the kid wants to be the best. He is going to work at it and he wants to be a professional. Whenever something bad happens, which it does for young players, you are going to mistakes or whatever. Some guys might go in the tank but his mentality is ‘I am never going to make that mistake again. I am going to make up for it. I am going to come back. You can keep throwing me the ball and I am going to make a play. Everytime  he said that to me, he would just go off for 10 catches and two touchdowns the rest of the game. My point is, the guy is so mentally tough and he has this chip on his shoulder that he always feels that he has something to prove. I just tell him ‘Never lose that because you always do have something to prove.’ That’s the mentality you have to have in this league.”


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Saints Recognized in ESPN.com’s All-NFC South Awards

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/25/2012 – 3:44 pm

Head Coach Sean Payton, OC Pete Carmichael Jr. and 11 Saints players were recognized in ESPN.com’s All-NFC South Awards.

Below are the accolades the Saints received in the site’s divisional honors. For more on ESPN’s All-NFC South Awards, click here.

ESPN’s NFC South Awards won by Saints

Most Valuable Player: QB Drew Brees

Most Valuable Player (non-quarterback): RB Darren Sproles

Best Performance by a Second-Year Player: TE Jimmy Graham

Coach of the Year: Sean Payton

Assistant Coach of the Year: OC Pete Carmichael Jr.

Best Offseason Move: Signing RB Darren Sproles

Saints Players selected to ESPN’s All-NFC South Team

OT Jermon Bushrod

G Carl Nicks

G Jahri Evans

WR Marques Colston

TE Jimmy Graham

FB Jed Collins

RB & PR Darren Sproles

QB Drew Brees

DB Jabari Greer

S Malcolm Jenkins

P Thomas Morstead


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49ers Win in Dramatic Fashion, 36-32

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/14/2012 – 10:05 pm

A 13-yard touchdown pass from  San Francisco QB Alex Smith to TE Vernon Davis with nine seconds left gave San Francisco a 36-32 lead.

QB Drew Brees has completed 39-of-62 passes for 458 yards with four touchdown passes and two interceptions. His favorite target has been  Sproles who has set an NFL record in the postseason with 14 receptions for 116 yards with one touchdown, as well as a standout effort from WR Marques Colston, who has nine catches for 136-yards with a second quarter 25-yard scoring grab to put the Saints within three.  Following the touchdown by Graham, he has five receptions for 103 yards. The New Orleans defense has sacked 49ers QB Alex Smith four times, 1.5 apiece coming from S Roman Harper and LB Martez Wilson. Safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Harper are tied for the team lead with six tackles.

Starting at their 20, RB Darren Sproles took a screen pass from QB Drew Brees for a five-yard gain, followed by  a Brees pass to TE Michael Higgins for a gain of ten yards, before he was forced out at the 35-yard line by San Francisco S Donte Whittner. RB Chris Ivory in the first run play, took a handoff for a three-yard gain. A pass to Sproles in the middle was then completed for a gain of 12 yards before he was tackled at the San Francisco 41 by CB Chris Culliver. Brees then threw a short pass to WR Robert Meachem, who was forced out of bounds by 49ers S Dashon Goldson at the 44. Ivory then took a handoff, ran right, but was stopped cold by San Francisco LB Patrick Willis for no gain on the play. On third-and-five, Brees threw to Graham down the field, but Whitner was called for a pass interference penalty that advanced the ball to the 21, resulting in a 23-yard penalty.  Graham was shaken up on the play and departed. New Orleans subsequently moved into the red zone, as RB Pierre Thomas ran up the middle for six yards before being stopped by Willis. A second down throw near the middle of the field intended for WR Devery Henderson was nearly picked off by 49ers CB Carlos Rogers. On third-and-four, a throw to Colston was complete for a gain of just enough. Sproles then took a handoff up the middle, but he was tripped up for no gain by Goldson. Sproles just took a pass out of the backfield and brought it for a four-yard gain before being tackled by Whitner. A pass to Thomas followed who was stopped by Whitner and lost the ball in the process, as it was recovered by Willis at the two.

On San Francisco’s first play from scrimmage, QB Alex Smith completed a throw to WR Michael Crabtree for a gain of nine yards before he was tackled by S Malcolm Jenkins. 49ers RB Frank Gore then moved the chains for a gain of five yards to the 16 before he was tackled by DE Cameron Jordan. Gore then galloped behind a nice block from 49ers T Joe Staley for a gain of 15, before he was tackled by Jenkins at the 31.  A throw intended for 49ers WR Kyle Williams was broken up by CB Tracy Porter.  A timed slant was then completed to 49ers WR Ted Ginn Jr. for an 11-yard gain before he was tackled by Porter.  Smith and his wideout tried to connect a second time, as it appeared to be a missed route. A crossing route was then completed to 49ers TE Vernon Davis, But Jenkins tripped him up after the initial catch, limiting the gain to five yards. On a key third down defensive play, S Roman Harper sacked Smith and forced him to fumble before it was picked up by Gore at the San Francisco 33 for a total loss of 16 yards.  San Francisco P Andy Lee’s punt took a favorable role for a total of 47 yards, where it was downed at the New Orleans 18-yard line.

On first down, a throw to Sproles was broken up. Ivory took the carry on second down and gained a hard two yards. On third-and-eight, Brees was dropped by San Francisco LB Aldon Smith for a loss of 11 yards to send the punt unit out. Ginn fielded a punt for 60 yards that was returned to the San Francisco 46, before Ginn was tackled by LB Jonathan Casillas.

With the 49ers getting the ball back, Smith handed off to San Francisco. A completion from Smith to Davis then went for 49 yards into the end zone to give San Francisco a 7-0 lead.

WR Courtney Roby returned the kickoff out of the end zone 17 yards to the New Orleans 14, before he was brought down by San Francisco S C.J. Spillman. Brees completed a throw to Graham for a gain of four yards before he was tackled by 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman. A subsequent seven yard throw to Sproles moved the chains. On the next play, Goldson picked Brees off midfield and he was finally stopped by G Jahri Evans at the New Orleans four-yard line, resulting in a 41-yard return.

On San Francisco’s first offensive play on the drive, Smith threw out of bounds. On second down, he tossed it out of the end zone again, rather than throw to a covered Crabtree. A third down crossing route to Crabtree reached the end zone though to put the 49ers up by 14.

On the subsequent kickoff to Roby, the wide receiver, filling in on returns for Sproles fumbled the ball at the 13-yard line, where it was picked up by 49ers S Madieu Williams.

Smith immediately handed off to Gore, who ran left and gained only two yards before being tackled by Ellis in the final play of the first quarter. A pass was then completed to San Francisco TE Justin Peele for a gain of four. On third-and-four, Smith threw a pass where he saw a covered Ginn in the end zone out of bounds to send the field goal unit out, where San Francisco K David Akers hit a 25-yard field goal.

Akers’ kickoff went into the end zone to give the Saints starting position at the 20. A screen pass was completed from Brees to Meachem, who went out of bounds at the 28. Brees then tried a play action fate, but took a safe throw to Collins who gained eight yards and moved the chains. On first down at the 36, Brees faked play action again and completed a throw to WR Marques Colston who was tackled by Goldson at the San Francisco 44-yard line, resulting in a 20-yard gain. On a short pass to Sproles, he was tackled by Whitner at the 41-yard line. After it was initially ruled that Whitner popped the ball out of Sproles’ hands and he lost a fumble. However, the call was reversed, with New Orleans having the ball at the 39-yard line. Brees then threw up the middle to Colston, who was brought down by Bowman at the 28. Brees then ran out of bounds for a five-yard gain to the 23. A completion to Graham to the 16 then moved the chains to the 16. With a fresh set of downs inside the red zone, Ivory carried forward for a two-yard gain, before he was tackled by Willis. A subsequent 14-yard throw to Graham in the end zone, put the Saints on the board.

Morstead’s kickoff went into the end zone for a touchback. A completion to Gore was snuffed out for a loss of one yard by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.  Smith subsequently pitched to the running back and Harper tackled him for no gain. On third down, Smith threw a pass to Gore, but he was tackled two yards short of the first down marker by Jenkins and LB Scott Shanle to send the punt unit out. 49ers C Jonathan Goodwin was shaken up and limped off the field on the play  Lee punted to Sproles for 49 yards and it was returned 11 yards to the New Orleans 34.

On the first play of the drive, San Francisco DE Justin Smith jumped offsides, advancing New Orleans to the 39. He then completed a crossing route to Colston, who was tackled by Goodson at the San Francisco 48. A hurried Brees was then forced to send his next throw out of bounds. Sproles took a carry to the 49ers 46, where was he stopped after a gain of two by Bowman. However, Brees worked himself out of an unenviable down and distance situation and completed a throw to WR Adrian Arrington for a 14-yard gain.  Brees quickly completed a throw to Henderson, where he was forced out of bounds by Rogers at the 25. A pass to Sproles was then dropped by the running back. On third-and-three, a long pass was completed to Colston right in the corner of the end zone, to put New Orleans down by only three.

On the first two plays starting at the 20, Hunter and then Gore ripped off runs of 11- and nine-yards respectively, followed by a 20-yard connection from Smith to Davis, where he went out of bounds at the New Orleans 40.  A throw to Crabtree, was then bobbled and dropped by the 2009 first round draft pick, followed by another missed connection between the two. On third-and-ten from the 40, a jailbreak blitz, resulted in a nine-yard sack by Harper and LB Martez Wilson.

Following a touchback by Lee, an incomplete pass and  a throw to Sproles for a two-yard gain, Brees took a shot down the field and was picked off by 49ers CB Tarell Brown and subsequently dropped by Henderson at the 29. Smith first completed a throw to Davis for an eight-yard gain where he was tackled by Harper. A throw to Williams, where he was forced out of bounds at the 43, moved the chains. A first down throw intended for Crabtree was tipped by Harper. Gore then carried forward for a gain of one-yard before he was stopped by Harper.  On third-and-nine, Smith completed a pass to Williams, but he was tackled by CB Patrick Robinson, three yards short of the first down. On the punt, Sproles called a fair catch at the 14-yard line.

Following an incomplete pass, four yards were lost when Smith trapped Sproles on a reception.  Facing third and 14 at their 11, Brees threw another screen to Sproles for a gain of seven, sending the punt unit out.  Following an incomplete pass by Smith, on a second down play, Wilson hit Smith, forced him to fumble and it was recovered by Vilma with 17 seconds left. Brees and Henderson immediately went to the air on a long passing attempt, but the wideout was hit downfield and the ball sailed past him. On a crazy second down play, an incomplete pass was ruled. On the final play of the first half from the 44, San Francisco called a timeout. Brees threw the final pass of the half out of bounds.

Morstead’s kickoff to open play in the second half was for a touchback. On the first play from scrimmage of the second half, Smith completed a pass to Crabtree for a seven-yard gain. Gore then carried for two yards and then four to move the chains. With a fresh set of downs at the 33, a pass intended for Davis was broken up by Jenkins.  A run by Hunter to near the Saints sideline was snuffed out by Dunbar after gaining only one yard. On third-and-nine, another blitz by Jenkins resulted in New Orleans’ fourth sack of the day for a loss of 13 yards. A 57-yard punt by Lee was fielded by Sproles, who was hit by 49ers LB Blake Costanzo and the ball was recovered by 49ers S Colin Jones at the 26 yard line. It was Sproles’ first fumble of the 2011 season.

Gore took the first handoff and was brought down by Jordan after gaining three yards. On second down, Smith was under pressure from Jordan and was forced to chuck the ball out of bounds. On third-and-seven, a crossing throw to Crabtree was broken up by CB Jabari Greer, sending the field goal unit out. Akers hit a 41-yard field goal to extend San Francisco’s lead to 20-14.

New Orleans would start at their 20. On their first possession of the second half, a pass was completed to Sproles, which was converted for a gain of six yards, before he was tackled by Whitner. Brees then looked at Colston as a third option, found him open on a jump ball and he rambled to the San Francisco 43-yard line for a gain of 31. Ivory then took a handoff for a gain of two yards, before he was tackled by Bowman and Willis. On second-and-eight, Brees tried to complete a throw to Sproles under pressure, but the pass was incomplete. On third-and-eight, following a timeout, Brees was sacked by Justin Smith for a loss of nine yards to midfield. On a 38-yard punt by Morstead, Ginn returned the ball seven yards, where he was tackled by Roby at the 19-yard line.

On San Francisco’s first play of their drive, Ginn ran a sweep play and gained three yards before he was tackled by Vilma. A halfback option play was then ran, where Gore threw the ball back to Smith, with the ruling on the field as a backward pass for a loss of six yards with Jordan stopping the San Francisco signal-caller. With New Orleans blitzing, a pass was completed to Gore to the 24, but he was stopped by Dunbar, five  yards short of the first down marker.

A punt by Lee was downed at the New Orleans 14-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Brees tried to take advantage of time by his offensive line, but he and Arrington failed to connect on a potential pass play. He went back to Henderson though on a slant and it resulted in a gain of 19 yards to the 33. With a fresh set of downs, Ivory then carried for a gain of seven yards up the middle before he was brought down by Willis. A pass play to Graham near the middle of the field resulted in a gain of 12 yards and moved the Saints into San Francisco territory. Brees then faked a handoff, but Rogers defended a long ball over the top intended for Arrington. A second down throw intended for Graham was then dropped by the tight end. Facing third-and-ten from the 48-yard line, following a timeout, a throw intended for Arrington was dropped by the wideout, sending the punt unit back out. Ginn called a fair catch for a 33-yard Morstead punt at the San Francisco 15-yard line.

FB Bruce Miller caught a ball on a route for a 16-yards. Hunter then took a carry towards the right side of the New Orleans defense line, but DTs Tom Johnson and Shaun Rogers stopped him for no gain. On second-and-ten, an offensive pass interference penalty assessed to Ginn resulted in loss of down.  Ginn then went down before the next play started. A pass interference on Williams on the next play, resulted in a penalty declined and incomplete pass to send the San Francisco punt unit out again. Lee’s punt was downed out of bounds by Costanzo at the New Orleans 34-yard line, resulting in a total of 35 yards on the kick.

Brees on the first play of the drive, found Sproles for a gain of 12 yards, before he was tackled by 49ers LB Parys Haralson. Ivory then carried to midfield before he was tripped up by Goldson after gaining five-yards. A completion to Henderson for a gain of 11 yards moved the chains for the second time in the drive on the final play of the third quarter. On the first play of the final period, a throw to Colston gained nine yards before he was tackled by San Francisco LB Ahmad Brooks. Ivory then took a run up the middle to move the chains to the 27-yard line on a gain of three yards. On first down, Brees and Graham failed to connect. Following a carry for a two-yard loss by Ivory where he was stopped by Brooks, a pass to Colston in the end zone sailed past his fingertips, but New Orleans got on the scoreboard for the first time in the second half on a 48-yard field goal by K John Kasay.

With San Francisco starting at their 28, Crabtree caught a pass from Smith for a five-yard gain before being tackled by Crabtree and Vilma. Gore then ran right, but Dunbar stopped him after gaining only one yard. Smith tried a crossing route under pressure intended for Williams and it was almost picked off by Robinson, sending Lee and the punt unit back out.  Sproles fielded the kick inside the ten and ran it back to the New Orleans 18-yard line with a  13-yard runback.

On the first play, Brees dropped back and under pressure a shuttle pass intended for Collins went on the ground.  He was then dropped by Brooks for a loss of seven yards, followed by an incomplete pass to send the punt unit out. Morstead perfectly boomed a 53-yard punt out of bounds at the San Francisco 36.

Gore took the opening carry of the drive for a gain of 32 yards before being tackled by Porter to advance the 49ers to the New Orleans 22. Hunter then spelled Gore and carried for four yards before being stopped by DE Will Smith. A run by Anthony Dixon then was stopped for no gain by Smith, followed by a throw to Gore for no gain, which sent Akers out again, where he kicked his third field goal of the day.

Sproles would take the kickoff out of the end zone to the New Orleans 21-yard line, where Brees and the offense would have starting position for a critical fourth quarter drive. Brees first completed a short throw to Sproles, for a gain of only one, where he was tackled by Bowman. On second-and-nine, a connection was missed between Brees and Henderson.  Brees rolled out on a critical play and completed a throw to Henderson for a gain of 13 yards, to set up first down at the 35. Brees and Colston then connected for a gain of 11 to the 46.  A pass to Meachem was then completed to midfield for a four-yard gain where he was tackled by Meachem.  A throw was completed to Sproles, who went out of bounds at the San Francisco 45, setting up third-and-one. The 5-6 all-purpose back then converted a crucial run up the middle. On first down, a throw near the Saints sideline went over Meachem’s head.  Brees though then connected with Sproles for a touchdown, where the running back beat several tackles to run into the end zone and give New Orleans a 24-23 lead.

With San Francisco starting at their 20, Smith completed a pass to Hunter for a gain of 13 yards. A first down pass was broken up. It was followed though by a 37-yard completion to Davis and then a five-yard run by Gore. Hunter then carried to the 21-yard line where he was tripped up by Jordan. A 12-man in the huddle penalty would then send San Francisco back five yards. Faced with third-and-eight. Smith though took a keeper for the touchdown, to put San Francisco up 29-24. With the 49ers going for two, the run play was snuffed out.

With starting position at the ten-yard line, Sproles set the NFL single-game postseason record for receptions with his 14th, which went for a ten-yard gain and the NFL record. A throw intended for Colston after the two-minute warning was then broken up by Brown. Brees would find his favorite wideout again, who would go out of bounds at the 34. A long throw then went to Graham in the end zone for a 66-yard gain, to give New Orleans the lead again, going for two.

Leading 32-29, a long pass was completed from Smith to Davis to put the 49ers in field goal range at the 20. A pass was then completed to Gore at the 13, followed by Smith spiking the ball. On third-and-three, a pass was completed to Davis in the end zone to give San Francisco the lead with nine seconds left.


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Brees in Pregame Warmups

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/14/2012 – 8:29 pm


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Inactives for Today

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/14/2012 – 8:00 pm

Saints inactives for today: WR Moore, TE Gilmore, LB Bussey, DB Torrence, OL Olsen, TE Humphrey, DE McBride

inactives: QB S. Tolzien, WR J. Hastings, CB S. Spencer, TE D. Walker, G D. Kilgore, G M. Person, NT I. Williams


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Saints-49ers Final Injury Report

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/13/2012 – 9:32 pm

Saints

Did Not Participate (Injury) – Game Status 

TE John Gilmore (Toe) – Out

WR Lance Moore (Hamstring) – Out

Limited Participation (Injury) – Game Status

LB Jonathan Casillas (Knee) – Questionable

S Roman Harper (Ankle) – Probable

LB Jonathan Vilma (Knee) – Probable

WR Robert Meachem (Knee) – Probable

49ers

Did Not Participate (Injury) – Game Status

TE Delanie Walker (Jaw) – Questionable

CB Chris Culliver (Knee/Illness) – Questionable

Limited Participation (Injury) – Game Status

WR Tedd Ginn (Ankle) – Questionable

DT Ray McDonald (Hamstring) – Questionable

WR Kyle Williams (Concussion) – Questionable


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Saints-49ers Thursday Injury Report

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/13/2012 – 1:13 am

Saints

Did Not Participate (injury) 

TE John Gilmore (Toe)

WR Lance Moore (Hamstring)

LB Jonathan Vilma (Knee)

Limited Participation (Injury)

LB Jonathan Casillas (Knee)

S Roman Harper (Ankle)

Full Participation (injury)

WR Robert Meachem (Knee)

49ers

Did Not Participate (injury)

TE Delanie Walker (Jaw)

Limited Participation (injury)

CB Chris Culliver (Knee)

WR Tedd Ginn (Ankle)

DT Ray McDonald (Hamstring)

WR Kyle Williams (Concussion)


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Saints-49ers Wednesday Injury Report

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/12/2012 – 1:33 am

Saints

Did Not Participate (injury) 

TE John Gilmore (Toe)

WR Lance Moore (Hamstring)

S Roman Harper (Ankle)

Limited Participation (Injury)

LB Jonathan Vilma (Knee)

LB Jonathan Casillas (Knee)

Full Participation (injury)

WR Robert Meachem (Knee)

49ers

Did Not Participate (injury)

TE Delanie Walker (Jaw)

Limited Participation (injury)

CB Chris Culliver (Knee)

WR Tedd Ginn (Ankle)

DT Ray McDonald (Hamstring)

WR Kyle Williams (Concussion)


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Saints Lead 31-21

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/08/2012 – 2:09 am

A 17-yard touchdown run by RB Darren Sproles with 9:53 remaining in the fourth quarter, extended New Orleans’ lead back to 31-21.

The Lions won the toss and elected to receive. As was the case 68 times in the regular season, Thomas Morstead’s kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback.

Kevin Smith rushed for seven yards on the game’s first play before Matthew Stafford found Calvin Johnson over the middle for 22 yards and a first down at the Lions 49, at which point the Detroit offense focused on rookie wide receiver Titus Young, who gained eight on an end-around on first down. After an incompletion in his direction that was broken up by Jabari Greer and a penalty, Stafford went back to Young on third-and-7 for a 15-yard gain and again on the next play for 11 yards.

Stafford found Johnson for 12 yards to set up first and goal at the 10, where on first down, Stafford went over the middle to tight end Will Heller for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Jason Hanson’s extra point gave Detroit a 7-0 lead with 10:58 remaining in the first quarter, as the Lions took 4:02 to cover 80 yards in eight plays.

The Saints finally got their hands on the football as Darren Sproles returned Hanson’s kickoff 26 yards to the New Orleans 19, and like his 5,000-yard counterpart, Drew Brees came out throwing. On the Saints’ first play from scrimmage, he found Devery Henderson for a 23-yard catch and run, then went to Jed Collins in the flat for five yards. Sproles’ first touch from scrimmage was a 14-yard run to move the Saints into Detroit territory for the first time at the Lions 39.

After Chris Ivory rushed up the middle for eight yards, Brees found Marques Colston for 13 yards, but Stephen Tulloch knocked the ball away and Detroit linebacker Justin Durant recovered at the 18.

Stafford went back to his favorite receiver, Johnson, for nine yards on the first play after the fumble. Scott Shanle broke up a second-down pass intended for Brandon Pettigrew, and on third-and-1, the Lions used their second end-around of the quarter, this time to Nate Burleson, who barely converted. Smith was stopped for no gain on first down from the 29 as Greer came up to make the stop, and on second down, Stafford was pressured into a low throw in the direction of Smith. On third-and-ten, Stafford completed a throw to Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew at the New Orleans 49-yard line. With a fresh set of downs, Stafford threw over the top for Johnson, but it was deflected by Harper. On second down, Smith carried laterally and lost a yard, where he was stopped by the strong safety. On third-and-11, A throw to Johnson by the Detroit sideline was broken up by Greer to send the punt unit out. Sproles fielded the punt at the 11-yard line, where he was tackled.

Sproles carried and was stopped for no gain by Detroit CB Eric Wright, followed by an incompletion. On third down, RB Pierre Thomas took a pass out of the backfield and gained 11 yards, before he was stopped. A throw was then completed to TE Jimmy Graham for a gain of five, followed by a pass to Colston, where he was stopped at the 35. Thomas then took the carry forward on an end-around fake, all the way to the Detroit 35. That was followed by a nine-yard gain by Sproles and then a gain of 15 on a pass play to Collins for the final play of the first quarter. On first down at the 11, Sproles took a handoff to the six, where he was tackled by Lions DT Corey Williams. Henderson then took an end around to the two, where he went out of bounds. Sproles then bounced out the outside to tie the score up.

Morstead’s kickoff was fielded by Logan, who had returned the ball to the 36-yard line, where he was tackled by LB Ramon Humber, before it was brought back due to an illegal block to the back penalty on TE Will Heller, which would create starting position at the 13. A throw from Stafford to Johnson created a gain of 18 to the 31-yard line where he was tackled by S Malcolm Jenkins. Smith then carried left where he was eventually stopped by DT Sedrick Ellis after a five-yard gain. Textbook tackling by Greer on a throw to Burleson, resulted in a only a one-yard gain. On third-and-four, a throw to Scheffler on a crossing route, set up a first down at the 44, following the tackle by Jenkins. Smith then took a handoff and gained nine yards to the New Orleans 47, where he was tackled by LB Jonathan Vilma. On second-and-one, a throw by Stafford to Burleson went over the head of CB Tracy Porter and resulted in a 21-yard gain to the 26. On first down, Stafford was forced to get rid of the ball quickly and he missed a connection with WR Titus Young. A pass was thrown to Smith out of the backfield, where he advanced to the 13 before being knocked out of bounds by Harper. Stafford then completed a throw to Johnson in the end zone, to put the Lions back in the lead.

Detroit K Jason Hanson’s kickoff went deep in the end zone for a touchback. Ivory carried for a two-yard gain, where he was stopped by Titans LB Stephen Tulloch. Brees then completed a nine-yard throw to Colston to move the chains, followed by a completion to Graham for six yards. With second-and-four at the 37, Graham made a spectacular one-handed grab before he was pushed out of bounds at the 45 by Lions S Louis Delmas. Brees then completed a pass in the backfield to Thomas, who broke several tackled to move into Lions territory at the 42 for a gain of 14 yards. Sproles then carried right for a gain of four yards. Two plays later though, Lions DT Willie Young forced Brees to fumble and it was recovered by the Lions at their 38.

Stafford first threw a ball over Scheffler’s head. On second down, he completed a throw to Pettigrew, where he was tackled by Vilma at the 44, following a gain of six. The third down throw was just out of the grasp of Jones, sending the Detroit punt unit back. Sproles called a fair catch for the punt at the 16-yard line.

Ivory just took took the handoff for New Orleans’ next drive, but Detroit was called for an offsides penalty, assessed to CB Aaron Berry. Brees then combined with Colston to beat Delmas for a completion for gain of 28 to the 44. Thomas then took a handoff, but was stopped after gaining only one yard following a stop by Lions DT Nick Fairley. On second-and-nine. Brees then completed a throw to Sproles just short of the first down marker at the Lions 46. On third-and-one, Ivory pushed the pile to convert the first down at the 45. Sproles was tackled after being stopped for no gain. A throw to Meachem moved the chains though to the 36, setting up third and one again. Following the two-minute warning, offsetting penalties created a replay of third down. A last-second timeout by the Lions followed on the cusp of a run play. Brees was then finally forced to throw a ball away under pressure. On fourth-and-one, Ivory took a handoff up the middle to the 35 to convert. With a fresh set of downs, a throw down the field to Thomas, resulted in a gain of two yards. On offsides penalty on Detroit DE Cliff Avril, set up second-and-three at the 28. A throw was then completed to Graham for a gain of 11, where he was eventually tackled by Delmas and Tulloch. A throw to Sproles then in the middle of the field, gained five yards followed by a timeout. A throw in the end zone to Colston appeared it would tie the score. However, following a replay, the play was not ruled a catch, however a facemask penalty on Detroit S Amari Spievey would advance the ball to the six. Prior to their next offensive play, Detroit would call a timeout, followed by a throw in the end zone that was broken up by Berry. A throw to Meachem in the end zone was incomplete, defensed by Tulloch, forcing the field goal unit out, where K John Kasay would hit a 24-yard field goal to end the half with the Saints within four points.

Sproles took the second half’s kickoff six yards deep out of the end zone to the 22-yard line. The first play from scrimmage was a handoff to Thomas for a gain of 18 yards to the 40-yard line. Brees and Meachem then just missed on a potential long pass play. Ivory though then took a handoff and gained 19 yards up the middle, breaking two tackles before he was tackle by Berry and Lions DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Play action followed with a 41-yard throw to Henderson in the end zone to give New Orleans their first lead of the game.

Detroit started at their 20 and Stafford and Johnson immediately got back to work with a 21-yard completion. With a fresh set of downs, Johnson handed off to Smith, who was stopped by DE Cameron Jordan and DT Aubrayo Franklin for only a one-yard gain. A holding penalty on Detroit created second-and-19 at the 32, followed by an incomplete pass out of bounds by Stafford under pressure from the Saints defensive line. Stafford completed a pass in the middle to Burleson, but Porter tackled him 12 yards short of the first down, sending the punt unit out. Sproles fielded a punt and was tackled at the 12-yard line. Following a penalty on the punt return, Thomas gained five yards on a run. Brees was then sacked by Avril on the next play for a six-yard loss. On third-and-11, a completion for just that amount to Colston moved the chains. Sproles then took an end around handoff, but he was stopped by Berry for a loss of three yards. However, that was followed by a completion to Graham, who was forced out of bounds by Berry at the 29. A completion to Sproles upfield resulted in a nine-yard gain before he was tackled by Lions LB Justin Durant. A second-and-one throw under pressure to Meachem was knocked down in front of the wideout by Wright. Ivory then took a handoff, but was stopped for no gain. However, Head Coach Sean Payton decided to go for it and Brees dove for a two-yard gain. A completion to Thomas, resulted in a broken tackle and a gain of ten to midfield. A throw to WR Adrian Arrington resulted in a seven-yard gain before he was forced out of bounds by Detroit CB Chris Houston at the 43. That slant set up a long throw to Colston for a 40-yard gain at the three-yard line. Graham then caught a three-yard pass right inside the end zone to boost New Orleans’ lead.

Detroit had starting position at their 20. Under pressure, Stafford completed a pick pass to Johnson that resulted in a 15-yard gain. A long throw was then on the money to Young but dropped by the rookie wideout. Stafford then threaded the needle on a throw in Triple coverage to Johnson where he was tackled at the New Orleans 44 by Jenkins and Greer. A first down attempt was dropped by Scheffler. A ball was thrown up in the air and caught by Johnson at the two, where he was stopped by Jenkins, two yards short of the goal line. A pass was then completed for one yard to young. Stafford kept on the next play and was stopped by DE Will Smith for no gain. Stafford then faked a handoff and went for the pylon on a play, which following review, a touchdown was upheld.

Starting at the 20, Thomas took a handoff and was stopped for no gain. In the final play of the third quarter, Brees completed a throw for an eight-yard throw to Graham, before he was tackled by Durant. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Brees completed a throw to a covered Meachem to move the chains for a gain of five to move the chains to the 33. A subsequent pass play intended for a covered Sproles was incomplete. Thomas then took a handoff up the middle, where he was tackled by Berry after gaining only two yards. On third-and-eight, Brees and Colston connected again though for the first down, with the wideout tackled at the Detroit 48 by Tulloch and Delmas, but not before a gain of 17 yards. Ivory took a handoff and moved sideways, losing two yards on a tackle by Tulloch. A dump pass to Thomas, would gain back ten of the yards though, setting up third-and-two at the 40. A timed pass to Graham though was dropped by the tight end, setting up a tough decision for Payton and his offensive coaching staff, that would decide by sending the offense back out. Payton’s faith in his offense was rewarded by a three-yard run by Sproles to convert the first down. Thomas then took a handoff and broke through three tackles, before he was stopped by Wright and Tulloch after gaining eight. A second down throw in the air intended for Meachem was nearly picked off by Berry. This critical upcoming third down was followed by a timeout. Another conversion to Sproles though moved the chains, followed by a touchdown run.


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Saints-Lions Inactives

Posted by NewOrleansSaints.com on 01/07/2012 – 11:40 pm

Saints inactives for tonight: WR Moore, CB Torrence, LB Casillas, OL Olsen, TE Humphrey, TE, Gilmore, DE McBride

Lions inactives for tonight: QB Stanton, CB McDonald, RB Bell, S Harris, LB Hogue, OL Davis, DT Fluellen


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