Inside slant: New Orleans Week 6 Wrapup

Here's the "Inside Slant," your twice-weekly source for news about the Bucs' NFC South rivals. Today's edition wraps up Week 6's games, including personnel news and exclusive unit grades for the New Orleans Saints. It's a premium service from

That wasn't a hole the Saints found themselves in when they traveled to the Pacific Northwest on Friday night -- it was more like a crater.

Considering that they were saddled with an 0-4 record to start the season, much of it because of their own doing, the frustrated Saints couldn't afford to get any deeper Sunday night when they met the Seattle Seahawks in Qwest Field in front of an NBC audience.

For weeks, the Saints had been saying they were better than what they showed. And they finally proved it in a 28-17 win over the Seahawks that they hope can turn their season around.

The Saints played the way everyone thought they were going to play when the season started 38 days earlier. They showed flashes of the 2006 offense that had been missing in action for the first four games of this season and played decently on defense with some aggressive play.

And when they got a lift from their special teams, which scored a quick touchdown after the Seahawks fumbled a snap from center on their first punt of the game, the Saints (1-4) were on the way to their long-awaited first win.

The good news was that the Saints got that first victory. The bad news, if there is any in beating a team that had won 31 of its last 38 home games, was the Saints had to take a five-hour plane ride home and start thinking about their next step out of that deep hole.

Which was what coach Sean Payton was thinking when he was asked if his team had finally turned the corner in this less-than-fulfilling season.

"There is no corner," Payton said. "We're 1-4 and we won a game. We've got to get back and have a good week of practice."

At least it was a happy ride home in the middle of the night, a far cry from the 31-point season-opening loss to the Indianapolis Colts and 17-point setback to the Tampa Bay Bucs in their first two road trips.

"Just getting a win was important," Payton said, "so we'll take it, home or away."


--The struggling Saints picked the right time to find their offense, which had been missing almost all season, in a 28-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

After getting just five offensive touchdowns in their first 43 possessions this season, the Saints exploded and scored on three straight possessions in the first half of the win over the Seahawks.

While they were forced to punt after their first series, the Saints put together touchdown drives of 86, 66 and 80 yards to take a 28-7 advantage just before halftime and then coasted to the victory in the second half.

The Saints needed 13, six and nine plays for their three touchdown drives, which ended with a three-yard throw from Drew Brees to tight end Eric Johnson, a seven-yard run by wide receiver Lance Moore on a reverse, and a two-yard toss to wideout Marques Colston just before halftime.

--Moore made his first NFL start in place of Devery Henderson, who had a league-high seven drops in the first four games.

Moore, who had 12 receptions for 132 yards going into the game, caught three passes for 35 yards. He also scored the Saints' second offensive touchdown of the game on a seven-yard reverse in the second quarter.

Henderson came in on the Saints' second play from scrimmage as part of their three-wide package but did not catch a pass.

--Reggie Bush produced three carries in the first half that surpassed his previous career long of 18 yards in the first 20 games of his NFL career.

Bush started things with a 22-yard sprint up the middle on the Saints' first possession, then had 19- and 13-yard bursts to set up a three-yard TD pass from Brees to Johnson.

Bush also ripped off a 22-yard run to set up another touchdown en route to rushing for 88 yards on just nine carries in the first half. In addition, he had catches of 17 and 12 yards on a drive that ended with Moore's seven-yard run and a 21-0 lead for the Saints.

--Saints strongside linebacker Scott Fujita was back in the starting lineup after missing last week's game with the Carolina Panthers because of a sprained right ankle.

Last week marked the first time that Fujita had missed a game because of injury in his six-year, 83-game NFL career.

He showed no lingering effects from the injury and finished with seven total tackles, which tied for second on the team with cornerback Mike McKenzie.

--The Saints bested Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren for the first time after he won the first five meetings with New Orleans as the head coach in Green Bay and Seattle.

--The Saints are now 17-29 all-time in primetime games and 11-12 on Sunday night in the 41-year history of the organization.


--CB Usama Young, a rookie who had moved into the nickel package because of an injury to Jason David, strained his shoulder in the second quarter against the Seahawks.

--RDE Will Smith cramped up late in the third quarter and was taken to the locker room, where he received intravenous fluids. He returned in the fourth quarter.

--DT Kendrick Clancy played as part of the defensive line rotation against the Seahawks after missing two games with a right turf toe injury.

--K Olindo Mare, who has a strained groin, kicked all four extra-point tries against the Seahawks.

--P Steve Weatherford again handled the kickoff duties because of Mare's strained groin.

--RCB Jason David was sidelined for another game because of a fractured left forearm that will likely keep him out another two-to-four weeks.


PASSING OFFENSE: B -- It could have been better if not for at least five drops by Drew Brees' intended targets. Still, it was much better than it had been as Brees completed 25 of 36 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception for the first time this season and was not sacked. That produced a season-high passer rating of 106.9. Wide receiver David Patten had a huge day with eight catches for 113 yards -- with both totals matching his career highs -- and had a long gain of 36 yards. Brees also found Reggie Bush six times for 44 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-minus -- The Saints did most of their damage in the first half as they rushed for 95 yards and a healthy 7.9 average on just 12 carries in helping pile up a 28-10 halftime lead. Bush did most of the heavy lifting with 88 yards on just nine attempts. What brought the grade down is a poor second half in which the Saints gained just 26 yards on 21 tries as the Seahawks geared up to stop the run knowing that Sean Payton was going to try and milk the clock. Bush finished with 97 yards on 19 carries and the team had a season-high 121 yards on 33 attempts, but averaged just 3.7 yards a try.

PASS DEFENSE: B -- While they gave up 362 passing yards to Matt Hasselbeck, the Saints played pretty decently throughout the game. He got 214 of his passing yards in the second half when he desperately tried to get his team back into the contest. Where the Saints excelled was in applying pressure as he was sacked five times, a season high for New Orleans, and was harassed on many other pass attempts. He hit on 26 of 43 passes and had two touchdowns, but he also threw one interception. Bobby Engram had nine catches for 120 yards, while Nate Burleson and Ben Obomanu were also active in combining for 10 catches, 135 yards and two scores.

RUSH DEFENSE: A-minus -- The Saints refused to let Shaun Alexander get wide on them and held him to 35 yards on 14 attempts. They were hurt by fullback Leonard Weaver's 37-yard run, but still gave up just 92 yards on 21 carries. The Saints, however, weren't fooled and held Weaver to two yards on a fourth-and-three run at the Seattle 34 midway through the final period to turn the ball over on downs. The Seahawks wound up averaging 4.4 yards a carry, but that was inflated by Weaver's big run late in the contest.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The Saints started things early when the Seahawks had a snap go through punter Ryan Plackemeier's legs and the wild scramble produced a five-yard fumble return by rookie Pierre Thomas. That gave the Saints a huge lift early as well as a 7-0 lead. Later, free safety Josh Bullocks crashed through to block a 44-yard field-goal attempt by the Seahawks' Josh Brown, which preserved a 14-0 lead.

COACHING: A -- Reeling from their fourth straight loss and facing the longest road trip of the year, Sean Payton and his coaching staff kept their team focused and had them extremely well-prepared for a hostile and noisy environment in Qwest Field. While they didn't exactly finish the game the way they started, the Saints were able to hang on against the Seahawks and notch their first win of the season when almost no one gave them a chance.

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