2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Saints gain confidence from 31-7 win vs. Cardinals

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-09-23 03:26

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - New Orleans Saints players often wore T-shirts with the phrase, ``Be Special,'' printed across the front during the season in which they won the Super Bowl.

Between coach Sean Payton's return from his bounty ban, his morale-boosting hiring of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and quarterback Drew Brees' continued prowess in the passing game, the Saints are starting to have that look of a special squad again.

After a pair of narrow victories over NFC South Division rivals to open the regular season, the Saints rode their surprisingly suffocating defense and Brees' play-making to a convincing 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

In securing their first 3-0 start since their Super Bowl season of 2009, the Saints took particular satisfaction in their fourth-quarter dominance, a goal Payton set leading up to the game.

``We won the first two weeks in nail-biter situations,'' Brees said. ``We talked all week about finishing. ... We were successful in that regard.''

The Cardinals, who beat Detroit a week earlier, looked like a formidable foe when they marched 80 yards on the game's opening possession, capping the drive with a 3-yard run by Alfonso Smith for a 7-0 lead. After that, however, it was all Saints.

Brees was 29 of 46 for 342 yards and three touchdowns - two to tight end Jimmy Graham and one to recently reacquired receiver Robert Meachem. Brees also scrambled 7 yards for a score.

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer wound up 18 of 35 for 187 yards. He was sacked four times and intercepted twice by the Saints' resurgent defense, which ranked last in the league last season.

``There's not a lot of positives other than the beginning of the ball game,'' Cardinals first-year coach Bruce Arians said. ``We played very poorly.''

Here are five things we know from New Orleans' victory over Arizona:

1. DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: Ryan's defense in New Orleans has allowed only four TDs through three games while getting pressure up front and creating turnovers. The unit was encouraged after keeping Arizona scoreless on its last 10 drives, but also pleased by a three-game trend of strong play highlighted by eight sacks and four interceptions.

``We're just buying into the scheme, players are trusting players and we're playing as hard as we can,'' Vaccaro said after making his first career interception against Arizona. ``We know we've got the talent.''

2. TYRANN'S TALENT: Tryann Mathieu's stardom in college continues to translate well in the NFL. The New Orleans native fittingly made a difficult grab of a Brees overthrow for his first career interception. Mathieu's small stature and trouble staying off drugs while in college left many skeptical about his ability to make it as a pro. So far, so good.

``He has taken great strides, and we just look for him to continue to make plays,'' Peterson said. ``We know that he is not going to let us down.''

3. GRAHAM'S GROWTH: Barring injuries, Graham is likely to be a matchup problem for most teams the Saints play this season. He had nine catches for 134 yards, including touchdowns of 16 and 7 yards. Even Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals' best all-around athlete, had trouble defending Graham.

``He knows how to maneuver his body real well,'' Peterson said of Graham. ``He did a good job boxing us out and going up and getting the ball.''

Graham's numbers against Arizona were by no means extraordinary for the former college basketball player turned NFL tight end. A week earlier at Tampa Bay, Graham had 10 catches for 179 yards and touchdown.

4. DEPTH FINDER: The Cardinals will be challenged to get some younger or less experienced players up to speed. With receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) playing hurt, the Arizona offense struggled to sustain drives. Meanwhile, Arizona's defense was down four starters by the third quarter, when Brees and Co. started to put the game away.

``We had critical injuries, and some young guys had to chip in and play,'' Arians said, referring to the departures of linebackers Lorenzo Alexander (right foot) and Sam Acho (left ankle), as well as safety Rashad Johnson (finger). ``They didn't handle it as well as I hoped they would.''

Nose tackle Dan Williams also was excused following his father's recent death in a car accident.

5. HARD YARDS: The jury is still out on New Orleans' running game. At halftime, the Saints had run the ball for minus-6 yards. When Brees scrambled for 13 yards in the fourth quarter, he was at that moment New Orleans' top rusher.

New Orleans wound up with 104 yards rushing, but much of that came from after the game was no longer in doubt.

``I'm not concerned,'' Payton said, explaining that the Saints' lack of running in the first half came by design because of the five-man fronts Arizona often used.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Jonathan GoodwinOct 1 06:23p

New Orleans Saints C Jonathan Goodwin (neck), RB Erik Lorig (ankle) and CB Corey White (foot) all did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. OT Terron Armstead (concussion), [ More ]

Joe ThomasOct 1 06:23p

Cleveland Browns WR Marlon Moore (illness) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. DE Desmond Bryant (gluteus, wrist) and OT Joe Thomas (non-injury) were limited, while LB Barkevious Mingo (shoulder) [ More ]

Brandon MarshallOct 1 06:13p

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall (ankle) practiced without restrictions Wednesday, Oct. 1, for the first time in a while. 'It was good to get him (Marshall) back out there [ More ]

Roberto GarzaOct 1 06:13p

Chicago Bears LB Lance Briggs (knee), S Ahmad Dixon (hamstring), LB Shea McClellin (hand) and LB D.J. Williams (neck) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. DE Jared Allen (illness), [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 1 06:13p

Denver Broncos S Quinton Carter (knee), TE Virgil Green (concussion), LB Danny Trevathan (knee) and G Louis Vasquez (rib cage) were full participants in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. LB [ More ]

Terrell SuggsOct 1 05:53p

Baltimore Ravens DE Chris Canty (illness), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), OT Eugene Monroe (knee) and LB Terrell Suggs (thigh) all did not participate in practice Wednedsay, Oct. 1. CB [ More ]

Tamba HaliOct 1 05:53p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) and S Eric Berry (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. LB Tamba Hali (knee) and CB Sean Smith (groin) were limited, [ More ]

Ryan MathewsOct 1 05:43p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) said he's feeling good, but he has no timetable for when he might return. He wants to make sure he's fully healthy [ More ]

Dee MillinerOct 1 05:33p

New York Jets WR David Nelson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. OG Willie Colon (knee), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), CB Dee Milliner (quadriceps) and SS Calvin Pryor [ More ]

Tavon AustinOct 1 05:33p

St. Louis Rams WR Tavon Austin (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Shaun HillOct 1 05:33p

St. Louis Rams CB Trumaine Johnson (knee), C Barrett Jones (back) and CB Brandon McGee (foot) all did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. QB Shaun Hill (thigh) fully practiced.

Dwight FreeneyOct 1 05:33p

San Diego Chargers LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring), C Richard Ohrnberger (back), LB Manti Te'o (foot), LB Reggie Walker (ankle) and CB Shareece Wright (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Oct 1 05:23p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) will be a part of the game plan heading into the team's Week 5 game. Beckham did everything in practice Wednesday, [ More ]

Marvin JonesOct 1 05:03p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (ankle, foot) is not participating in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, because of a possible ankle injury. The injury does not appear to be related to his broken foot.

Andre JohnsonOct 1 04:53p

Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (ankle) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Julio JonesOct 1 04:53p

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Roy MillerOct 1 04:53p

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Dwayne Gratz (concussion), WR Marqise Lee (hamstring) and TE Mickey Shuler (illness) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. DE Ryan Davis (shoulder), DT Roy Miller (ankle) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 1 04:53p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant (illness), LB James Harrison (illness), DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Mike Mitchell (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury), LB Ryan Shazier (knee) and CB Ike [ More ]

Shane LechlerOct 1 04:43p

Houston Texans CB A.J. Bouye (groin), OT Duane Brown (knee), LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), LB Brian Cushing (knee), DE Tim Jamison (groin), OG Ben Jones (knee), P Shane Lechler [ More ]

Devin HesterOct 1 04:43p

Atlanta Falcons OG Justin Blalock (back) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. WR Devin Hester (ankle), S Kemal Ishmael (ankle) and LB Prince Shembo (knee) all were limited in practice.

Arian FosterOct 1 04:43p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Dwan EdwardsOct 1 04:33p

Carolina Panthers TE Richie Brockel (ankle), DT Dwan Edwards (non-injury), DE Charles Johnson (hip) and RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh) did not practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. CB Melvin White (thigh) [ More ]

Calvin JohnsonOct 1 04:33p

Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Jonathan StewartOct 1 04:33p

Carolina Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Don CareyOct 1 04:33p

Detroit Lions TE Joseph Fauria (ankle), LB Travis Lewis (quadriceps), RB Theo Riddick (hamstring) and CB Cassius Vaughn (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. DE Devin [ More ]

Joique BellOct 1 04:23p

Detroit Lions RB Joique Bell (concussion) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Carson PalmerOct 1 04:23p

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) was excused from practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, in order to see another specialist regarding the nerve issue in his shoulder, according to head [ More ]

Nigel BradhamOct 1 04:13p

Buffalo Bills WR Marcus Easley (knee), DT Kyle D. Williams (knee), OG Chris Williams (back) and LB Nigel Bradham (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. WR [ More ]

Jake LockerOct 1 04:13p

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker (wrist) practiced in full Wednesday, Oct. 1, and is expected to start in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. He missed Week 4 with [ More ]

Vernon DavisOct 1 04:03p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (back) doubts he will participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1, as he continues to deal with back spasms.

Austin DavisOct 1 03:53p

St. Louis Rams QB Austin Davis has been named the team's starting quarterback moving forward.

Brandon BoykinOct 1 03:43p

Philadelphia Eagles CB Brandon Boykin (hamstring) and LB Mychal Kendricks (calf) both did not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 1. TE Trey Burton (achilles), CB Nolan Carroll (ankle), TE [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group