Week three wrap: Defense comes through when it counts

IMG_1088.JPGAfter spending much of my week on jury duty in Jefferson Parish, it was nice to get out of the courtroom and into the Superdome for the Saints’ home opener. Is the shrimp po-boy new at the concession stands this year? It was solid. But I digress…

The much-maligned Saints defense didn’t force a turnover, but it did register two sacks in the 20-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Baby steps.

The defense, led by Curtis Lofton’s eight tackles (two for losses) and a sack each by Junior Galette and Cam Jordan, held the Vikings offense to 247 total yards. That’s 321 fewer than the Falcons had in week one and 77 under the total compiled by the Browns last week. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a nice improvement over three weeks — 568 to 324 to 247 total yards surrendered.

The defense still couldn’t get off the field on 3rd and long, gave up far too many big plays and let receivers get open over the middle seemingly at will. That’s a problem the Saints have dealt with for three weeks now. Greg Jennings broke free for a 30 yard reception. Matt Asiata had a grab for 41 yards. Cordarrelle Patterson, the Vikings biggest offensive threat on Sunday, had 4 catches for 61 yards with a long of 28.

But when it counted, the D stiffened. The Vikings could only muster three field goals in their eight offensive possessions. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the rookie out of Louisville subbing for starter Matt Cassel, showed glimpses of brilliance but couldn’t do much against Rob Ryan’s crew. Bridgewater is likely the Vikings’ future — and he may be their present after Sunday — but he still has a lot of learning to do.

Without star running back Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running game struggled against the Saints’ front four. Asiata led the way with 35 yards on 12 carries. As a team, Minnesota had only 59 yards on the ground.

What the Saints did on Sunday, both offensively and defensively, was encouraging. Still, this is a team with several issues that will prove costly if they’re not addressed. The offense needs to be more consistent. The offensive line play has to improve, most notably in pass protection. The defense needs to find a way make big plays and cause turnovers.

The Cowboys are next… and the Saints don’t lose in primetime. 3-2 at the bye week looks pretty feasible. After that it’s a tough four-week stretch in the NFC — on the road against Detroit, at home against Green Bay, at Carolina, then back in the Dome to play San Francisco.


– The Saints and Vikings each had eight offensive possessions. The Saints dominated time of possession — 33:33 to 26:27.

– The Saints have won 18 straight home games with Sean Payton on the sideline.

– Khiry Robinson, subbing for the injured Mark Ingram, ran for 69 yards on 18 carries.

– Quarterback Drew Brees has thrown for 5 touchdowns against 2 interceptions.

– Rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks has 18 catches for 168 yards through three games.

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