Saints at Chargers preview

The New Orleans Saints are the back half of a two game homestand for the San Diego Chargers this Sunday. After the game the Bolts head into their bye week and have a chance to get healthy for the stretch run.

How 'bout the Chargers?

They are tied for first in the AFC West with Denver, winners of four of their past five, boast the highest-scoring offense in the league (219 points) and are led by a quarterback on fire.

San Diego's Drew Brees is the third-ranked passer in the NFL (106.8) and comes off a team record-setting game against Oakland. His passer rating (153.1; perfect is 158.3) and completion percentage (88.0) set Chargers records. His five TD passes were one behind the club record of Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. "I feel we have something special here," says Brees. "I want more than anything for it to keep up."

The Saints – coming off a bye -- will not make it easy. After scoring only seven points in their opener, they have averaged 24.5 points a game since. Wide receiver Joe Horn -- who has at least one catch in 84 consecutive games – leads the NFC in receptions (47) and ties for the third-most third-down catches (12) in the conference. And the Saints have scored 13 touchdowns in the red-zone, third-most in the NFC.

Matchup to watch: First NFL meeting of the top two 2001 running back first-round draft choices – San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson (No. 5) vs. New Orleans' Deuce McAllister (No. 23).

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (3-4) AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (5-3)
SERIES

  SAINTS CHARGERS
LEADER   6-2
STREAKS   3 of past 4
COACHES VS. OPP. Haslett: 1-0 Schottenheimer: 3-3
LAST WEEK Bye (Wk. 7: W 31-26 at Raiders) W 42-14 vs. Raiders
LAST GAME 9/10/00: Saints 28 at Chargers 27. New Orleans QB Jeff Blake throws 8-yard TD pass to WR Joe Horn with 43 seconds remaining.
LAST GAME AT SITE 9/10/00
BROADCAST FOX (1:05 PM PT): Thom Brennaman, J.C. Pearson

STATS

PASSING Aa. Brooks: 147-252-1,697-9-3-85.7 Brees: 138-206-1,597-14 (3C)-3-106.8 (2C)
RUSHING McAllister: 82-280-3.4-4 Tomlinson: 162-653-4.0-7 (T3L)
RECEIVING Horn: 47(1C)-570-12.1-4 Gates (TE): 49 (T2L)-546-11.1-5 (T2C)
OFFENSE 326.0 339.0
TAKE/GIVE +4 +6 (3C)
DEFENSE 416.7 330.6
SACKS Ch. Grant: 7.5 (2L) Foley: 4.5
INTs Ambrose: 3 Florence: 2
PUNTING Berger: 43.6 (T3C) Scifres: 42.5
KICKING Carney: 52 (16/16 PAT; 12/13 FG) Kaeding (R): 57 (T3C) (27/27 PAT; 10/11 FG)

NOTES

HEAD COACHES Jim Haslett of New Orleans and Marty Schottenheimer of San Diego are both Pittsburgh natives.
SAINTS: Club plays 2nd of 4 consecutive games vs. AFC West (W 31-26
at Oak; vs. KC, 11/14; vs. Den, 11/21). Team has 21-14 (.600) road record & 3-1 mark following bye under Haslett.
QB Aaron Brooks has led club to victory after trailing in 4th quarter in 2 of 3 '04 wins. Has 7 career 300-yard passing games, 2nd-most in club history (Archie Manning, 9). Has thrown 3 INT in 252 attempts for 1.2 INT pct, 3rd-best among starters. Has 1,161 career completions & needs 42 to pass Bobby Hebert (1,202) for 2nd-most in club annals……Since becoming full-time starter in '02, RB Deuce McAllister has topped 100 yards rushing in 18 of 36 games.
WR Joe Horn has 38 TDs with NO, 3rd in club history. Third-year WR Donte Stallworth has 335 rec. yards (28 rec) after posting 485 in '03
DE Charles Grant has 7.5 sacks, 2nd in NFL, after totaling 10 in '03
K John Carney has converted 55.8 pct. all-time FG from 50+ (19 of 34). Spent 1990-00 with SD & is club's all-time leading scorer (1,076 points).

CHARGERS: Head coach Schottenheimer (w/Cle.) coached vs. Saints (O.A. "BUM" Phillips) in 1st NFL game as head coach (10/28/84), lost 16-14. SD's defensive coordinator is Wade Phillips, son of former Saints coach
In past 5 games, QB Drew Brees has completed 99 of 134 (73.9 pct.) with 11 TDs vs. 1 INT for 122.8 passer rating. Team is 4-1 in those 5. Last week vs. Oak., Brees completed club-record 88.0 pct. of passes (22 of 25) for 5 TDs vs. 0 INTs.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson has rushing TD in 7 of 8 games. RB Jesse Chatman averaging 6.9 yards per carry on 20 carries over past two.
In 1st 2 games w/ SD, WR Keenan McCardell has 9 catches for 120 yards & 1 TD. WR Eric Parker has 16 receptions in past 3. TE Antonio Gates has pair of 2-TD games in past 4. Gates leads NFL TEs in catches (49) & yards (546).
Defense allowing league-low 81.5 rush yards/game. S Clinton Hart posted 1st career INT last week. Team tied for 4th-most INTs in AFC (8) & own 3rd-best turnover ratio in conference (+6.
Rookie Nate Kaeding (No. 65) is tied for 3rd-most points in AFC.


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