Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saints Nation: Saints beat Bengals 17-7, win first preseason encounter

It wasn't the prettiest win, but the Saints got their 2009 preseason campaign off to a good start with a 17-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Saints took the lead with a 22 yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Jeremy Shockey. The Bengals tied the game at 7 with 7 seconds left in the first half thanks to a touchdown pass from former Saint J.T. O'Sullivan (who played a terrific game) to Chris Henry. The Saints scored all the points in the second half, first on an impressive bomb from Mark Brunell to Robert Meachem that covered 64 yards, followed by an huge 54 yard boot by Garrett Hartley. The Saints will next play the Houston Texans in Houston a week from today. (BOX SCORE)


-- Brunell looked like a pretty viable backup. If we ever need him to step in for spot duty, I wouldn't feel completely hopeless. His bomb to Meachem for 64 yards was a perfectly thrown ball, and he also showed very impressive arm strength on a 35 yard strike to Rod Harper. The guy still has a cannon at 38.

-- Shockey is healthy and he looked awesome. He's going to be a huge weapon in this offense if he can stay away from injury. Brees looked his way often, and he had two phenominal plays on the touchdown drive. The touchdown catch, in particular, was a grab in between 3 defenders that was pro bowl quality. Good game by Shockey.

-- Malcolm Jenkins jarred a ball loose with a hard hit that results in a tipped interception for Jonathan Casillas. In limited action, Jenkins looked good.

-- Robert Meachem still looks poised for a breakout year. Playing against backups he was a man among boys. He burned his coverage severely on the touchdown pass from Brunell, and had a couple other nice catches.

-- Garrett Hartley nailed a 54 yard field goal, so obviously leg strength is no issue whatsoever.

-- Jo-Lonn Dunbar was all over the field. He finished with 8 tackles and was solid in run support. Maybe he's making a case against the Saints signing Derrick Brooks? After getting off to a slow start in camp, he's roaring back.

-- Charlest Grant (who pulled a hamstring) looked fast on the field, and he hustled. It was encouraging to see. On Vilma's first fumble recovery he ran out to put a lead block on Carson Palmer and he looked fast and focused. On a missed tackle by Jason David later in the game, he almost chased down the player formerly known as Chad Johnson in a foot race and made a tremendous effort diving to clips #85's ankles.

-- Jonathan Vilma was terrific. First he recovered a fumble caused by a jarring hit by Darren Sharper, and rumbled inside the 10 yard line. Second he picked off Carson Palmer and once again returned it inside the 10. Vilma fumbled as he went down on the INT, but I thought he looked down. Vilma was also in the backfield making plays in run support.

-- Anthony Hargrove got a sack, and showed once again his tremendous pass rushing ability.

-- Not too many injuries to report. Grant tweaked a hammy, Darnell Dinkins turned an ankle, and D'Juan Woods was a little banged up. Otherwise a good result injury wise.


-- Look, Jason David says all the right things. By all accounts he's a great guy and I'll be the first to say he had a much improved season last year. It's time for him to go. The guy was burnt so badly in yesterday's game, it was almost like the Bengals would just throw to whoever he was covering. The guy makes way too much money to be a 5th cornerback. I love his playmaking/ball skills, but not at the expense of the constant plays he gives up. It's time to move on. I feel bad for him because I've always thought he handled himself perfectly - but clearly his tenure with the Saints just isn't working out. He's just too much of a liability.

-- Before the first TD, the first string offense looked pretty flat. It's early and I'm not worried about Brees, but they didn't come out firing on all cylinders.

-- The running attack was horrible. Mostly I blame the offensive line for the poor job getting push at the line of scrimmage. They weren't physical at all. The running backs combined for 2.9 yards a carry and that's just not going to get it done.

-- Lynell Hamilton coughed up 2 fumbles. Sorry buddy, but this isn't kindergarten recess and sharing the ball with others is not the name of the game.

-- The pass rush was pretty poor - but keep in mind Gregg Williams isn't showing his intricate blitz packages in preseason. That's the one area that looked mediocre that I'm less worried about.