Drew Brees: B- (3.09) Prior to the drive just before halftime, I was seriously considering whether or not Brees was worthy of the first "F" I've given out. He fumbled inside his own 20, threw an interception in the red zone, botched a snap that cost his team, and was settling for little passes underneath. But of course I knew he would turn it around and he was nearly flawless in the second half, so he saved his grade. He wasn't helped by a few Colston drops, including two in the end zone. Brees finished 24 of 35 for 330 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and 1 lost fumble. He also converted a 3rd and 1 on a 5 yard sneak.
Reggie Bush: B+ (2.42) Bush did all the little things very well. He carried the ball twice, rushing for 9 and 7 yards respectively. On both carries he hit the hole and showed a nice burst. He was heavily involved in the passing game, finishing with 7 catches for 37 yards. He helped the Saints convert big 3rd downs when they needed it. He returned one punt for 4 yards, avoiding his backpedaling tendency. His best play of the game was chasing Chris Gamble downfield after an interception to save a touchdown return. Despite being blocked by a couple Panthers on that play he was able to catch Gamble, and as low as the Saints were at that point in the game he helped limit the damage already done.
Mike Bell: C+ (2.95) Bell converted twice on 3rd and short, so give him credit for powering through with his aggressive running style. Otherwise he just had 5 carries for 17 yards. Quiet day.
Pierre Thomas: B+ (3.22) Thomas was off to a slow start, especially in the first half, but played a terrific second half when he got more touches. Finished with 50 yards on 13 carries, none bigger than the 10 yard touchdown run that pulled the Saints back within 4 to start the second half. As the game wore on he refused to go down and was seen shedding two to three tacklers before going down. He also had 5 catches for 31 yards.
Jeremy Shockey: C- (3.21) Shockey had his worst game of the season. He didn't block particularly well, and he wasn't looking on a pass in the end zone that Brees threw to him. A little embarrassing, considering Fox analyst Brian Billick spent the better part of a drive talking about how Shockey and Brees were finally on the same page. He was flagged for an offensive pass interference call that was suspect, and finished with 3 catches for 26 yards.
David Thomas: D+ (1.89) Thomas played a decent amount of snaps at fullback, but didn't seem to throw great lead blocks. He did throw a couple good blocks on screen passes to the running backs, but he was never targeted in the passing game. His low grade is mostly due to the fact that I saw him beat by Thomas Davis and pushed around by Jon Beason.
Devery Henderson: B+ (3.12) Henderson came up with a HUGE 63 yard reception on 3rd down to set up the Pierre Thomas score. He finished with 3 catches for 93 yards. He also had another 3rd down conversion and made the most of his opportunities. He had no chance on an end around that went for a 3 yard loss as Thomas Davis read the play perfectly.
Marques Colston: D+ (2.92) Colston had at least 4 drops and had by far his worst game of the season. While a couple of those were gimmes, a couple of those were admittedly tough catches to make. None the less, we've come to expect Colston to make those spectacular catches and he just didn't show up. Poor performance for the Saints' star receiver who finished with just 1 catch for 45 yards. His one catch did set up the field goal before halftime, which was important for the Saints' momentum going into the locker room, but the bad overshadowed the good. He specifically had two drops in the end zone on plays I've seen him make countless times.
Robert Meachem: A- (2.83) Meachem was the most targeted and reliable Saints' receiver on the day. It was a nice surprise to see him so involved and performing well. He finished with 5 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a 54 strike from Brees where he was able to show off his terrific hands and speed, and it was crucial as it tied the game at 20.
Jermon Bushrod: A- (2.81) Brees got little pressure from Bushrod's edge all game, and when he did he was able to step up in the pocket. Bushrod did an admirable job in both pass protection and run blocking. While it seemed like he went out for a portion of the game with an injury, Julius Peppers had just 1 tackle and was almost non-existent in the game. Give Bushrod credit, Jammal Brown has never kept Peppers that quiet.
Jahri Evans: B- (3.29) Hard to forget about the most costly penalty of the game. On a screen pass to Thomas that converted a 3rd down inside the Panthers' 5, Evans was called for a hold, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal and a 23-20 lead. The Saints were fortunate it didn't come back to haunt them, but Evans picked a crucial time to make a mistake. Otherwise, he was pretty solid but not as dominant as usual.
Jonathan Goodwin: B (3.04) Goodwin was back to pulling on screens and showing a nasty streak inside. He showed no ill effects from the knee injury that forced him to leave the game early last week. The shotgun snap that was dropped by Brees was not his fault.
Carl Nicks: B (3.00) Nicks was terrific run blocking, mauling ex Saint Hollis Thomas on a couple of occasions. Thomas is a load, so it was fun to see Nicks bullying the hefty veteran. I only remembered him get beat once on a passing play.
Jonathan Stinchcomb: C+ (2.88) Stinchcomb was responsible for the sack and strip in the 1st quarter. There was a lot of pressure coming from his edge, but Brees was able to step up in the pocket to avoid most of it. Stinchcomb did spring one of Bell's 3rd and 1 conversions, but he also did a bad job containing linebackers bringing backside pursuit.
Offensive Player of the Game: Robert Meachem
Offensive Player of the Game: Robert Meachem