Drew Brees had his third straight solid game. The one thing he was faulty on was third down conversions. Brees went 1-for-8 on third down conversions on Sunday. He had been in the top three in that category coming into play on Sunday. Brees played well enough to win but many opportunities were left on the table.
Forgive me, but LaDainian Tomlinson did not look like himself. There was a play in the first quarter when he got knocked out of bounds on the Atlanta side of the field where he showed a limp. He hid it well on the enemies' sideline but did not look crisp against a tough run defense. Jesse Chatman looked sharp in his few plays and may have, gulp, been a better option this week. Lorenzo Neal is a great blocker. Stop using him as a receiver. He is worse than bad.
Reche Caldwell goes down with an injury and it turns out Eric Parker isn't half bad. Kassin Osgood also looked like he might be a nice option. In fact, the unit, minus Caldwell, doubled their season output on Sunday.
Antonio Gates admits he should have made the catch but that won't bring it back. He did have six catches and led the team with 80 yards receiving. During one stretch of the game he caught three passes in a row. Justin Peelle also added a reception but his usually stellar run blocking wasn't so stellar.
The unit performed extremely well in pass protection. They gave Brees plenty of time to setup camp and the one sack was a coverage sack. They were not very good against the best run defense in the league. Every yard was a clawed for and they didn't do Tomlinson any favors.
After handling Warrick Dunn with ease, T.J. Duckett ran over everyone in his path and it started with the line. They could not wrap up the bulky back. When Dave Ball went out, he took with him any chance of a pass rush from the front three. DeQuincy Scott looked overmatched in his place.
This may be the first game since Donnie Edwards has been a Charger that his name was not mentioned. Looking at the stats he had three tackles but it is hard to remember him making a play. Steve Foley has a good game. He had two sacks and held Vick to a paltry 3.9 yards per rush as the shadow. Randall Godfrey appeared to get a forced fumble but the rest of the group lacked a spark.
Jamar Fletcher got turned around and Sammy Davis got whipped. Drayton Florence proved to be steady with a pick and pass defensed. Quentin Jammer had a quiet night as the ball was rarely thrown his way. Terrence Kiel had an all too quiet game and placed the blame of the loss on the unit. Jerry Wilson will bite on the pump fake every day of the week.
Nate Kaeding nailed his two field goal attempts, including a 53 yarder that was perfect. After his career best, Kaeding sailed one out of bounds, saying he was too amped up from nailing the long one. It's too bad since the kickoff coverage was excellent. Mike Scifres had just one punt returned and it turned out to be a crucial 17 yard scamper that was the catalyst to a touchdown three plays later. Tim Dwight was non-descript as a returner.
This team was aggressive but spent too much time halting the aggression when they needed it most. Down four with six minutes to go and no timeouts probably should have been a time when they go for it. Throwing to Neal when his pads just don't turn like a normal human, falling backwards in the penalty department and crucial mental errors are not the attributes of a winning team. They had a gameplan that was working but didn't count on the Vick factor actually playing up to his ability.
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