Monday was Wednesday in New Orleans Saints land as the team didn’t have much time to worry about their 31-21 loss to San Francisco Sunday. “We have a 24-hour rule around here and that rule has been cut to 12 hours. At 7 o’clock this morning we put (49ers game) behind us and we are on to our next game,” Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt told reporters this morning. That next game is Thursday night’s prime-time game against the (10-1) Atlanta Falcons as they await their shot at revenge for the Saints 31-27 win in New Orleans earlier this month.
“It’s always tough,” assistant head coach Joe Vitt told reporters Monday of the task his team has in playing an Thursday game. “Every week in the National Football League is physical. Every week in the National Football League, even when you have a six-day turnaround, it’s a challenge but both teams are facing the same challenge.”
The one good thing about the game this week is that it is against a division rival and one that you faced just three Sundays ago. “It doesn’t make it any less challenging but they know us and we know them,” Vitt says. “We are going to run plays that we have probably all seen run against one another before. We will try to disguise them with different formations and motions, maybe shifting some fronts, maybe stemming some fronts. This is not going to be a game about scheme. This is going to be a game about execution and physicality.”
Atlanta failed to punch it in on 4th and goal with less than two-minutes to play during the November 11 meeting and receiver Roddy White vowed after the game that the Falcons would be ready come the next meeting. The Saints are fully aware of the test ahead. “They are a good football team. I take my hat off to them, they are resilient. They play the Arizona Cardinals, throw five interceptions and have another turnover for a total of six and they find a way to win the game,” Vitt says of a team that out of their 10 wins this season, only four have come by more than six points. Every other win was by six or less. “They are very resilient. They are talented. Their record speaks for itself in who they are and what they are.”
“They’ve done a good job all season long of just making plays in critical situations,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees told reporters Monday when asked what he recalls from facing Atlanta three weeks ago. “They’ve been able to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback which has allowed them the opportunity to get a lot of turnovers and provide some opportunities to their offense. You just look them throughout the season they’ve won a lot of close games and, obviously, have played very consistent throughout.”
New Orleans has played well against the Dirty Birds away from the Superdome during the Sean Payton era. Since 2006 the Saints have won 5 of the 6 meetings in the Georgia Dome. “I don’t know. It’s always a big game,” Brees said when asked about the Saints success in Atlanta. “It’s always a big game, there’s always a lot on the line. There is always a lot at stake. There is a lot of pride involved. We want to play well.,We want to beat those guys. They’re a very good divisional opponent that I think there is a lot of familiarity with, personnel and such. You feel like we’re two of the teams that are at the top of this division a lot so that’s always going to bring out the best in each side.”
Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (concussion), right tackle Charles Brown (knee), defensive tackle Junior Galette (ankle), tackle Bryce Harris (ankle), wide receiver Courtney Roby (shoulder, ankle) and tight end David Thomas (knee) would have not practiced today if the team had worked out.
Right tackle Zach Strief (groin) and cornerback Corey White (knee) would have been limited. Strief’s health is a major concern as the Saints were down to their fourth right tackle in Sunday’s loss as Harris who was filling in for Brown, who was filling in for Strief was injured. Williams Robinson one week anniversary with the team is Tuesday finished the game against the 49ers.
Cornerback Elbert Mack (concussion) would have been full.
Wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore were not listed on the report that would have been the injury report which is great news considering both left the game Sunday. Colsotn and Moore both had to leave to the locker room to take concussion tests following big hits and contact to their heads with the field. Both players returned to the game. It still was scary to the Saints signal caller. “You never want to see that with anybody, especially guys that you’re throwing to. I’m glad that they’re alright but that’s never something you want to see,” says Brees of seeing the wide outs leave the game.
The Saints return to practice Tuesday.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Saints defense all things considering played arguably its best game of the season. They didn’t allow a hundred yard rusher and kept San Francisco from the dubious 400 yard mark. 49ers running back Frank Gore was held to 83 yards on 19 carries and as a team ‘Frisco only picked up 375 yards of offense. I know that is a lot but it’s the Saints defense we’re talking about come on, it’s the first time all season they held a team to under 400 yards!
“I thought the defensive guys played with the right attitude and the right mindset early in the game,” started Steve Spanuolo. “ I thought we had a pretty good first half. I’m disappointed in the first drive of the second half. We tried to set a tempo there. We let them come down and score. I would say that what’s exposed and looks like to you guys that Curtis (Lofton) had trouble covering that tight end, I’m taking the blame for that one. That was a third and two. I was expecting run. We pressured. I’ll go in this direction too that we all think pressure is the answer to everything. Sometimes it bites you in the butt too. They blocked it up, we brought a lot of people, and it’s a long down.
That’s hard for anybody to cover that long so we suffered a little bit there. The other disappointing thing in the second half was that we had them on the six-yard line and this has happened to us a bunch, but we need to find a way to get them to punt the ball in that type of situation, get the ball back to Drew (Brees) and the offense in good field position and find a way to get some points. To me, those are the two things that stuck out. In that drive I’m talking about, there was a third-and-ten there, the one Isa (Abdul-Quddus) got hurt on. To me, that was key. We have to get off the field on the third-and-ten and maybe things would have been different. I thought our guys fought. It was key. We’re still battling. In a two score game, I don’t care if there’s 20 seconds on the clock, you have a chance of winning, because if you score, onside kick, bang bang, you can win the football game. Our defense went out there and stopped them after we tried on fourth down. I thought that was big. We held them to a field goal and then blocked it. All those things, I thought we were pretty good at the end. You really want to play this football team from ahead, not behind. They know what they’re doing. That’s a good football team. The quarterback’s a good player and (they have) a good offense. They do the right things with him. It was a pretty good challenge for us”
The challenge this week of course is facing a Falcons team you just played three weeks ago. “We’re both doing the same thing. They had us for a game and know our personnel and we have the same for them,” Spagnuolo. “It’s kind of a continuation of the same game. It’s like going in at halftime and making adjustments. This is halftime of two games. We’ll make subtle adjustments. I’m sure they’ll do the same. Yet, we have an appreciation for each other’s personnel because we’ve gone against them.”