Saints Inside Slant

Theinsiders.com experts took a long look at the New Orleans Saints heading into their bye week. The Saints are coming off a big win at Tampa Bay but were very banged up in the process. The bye week comes at an opportune time for the Saints as they made a large subtraction from their roster by placing Grady Jackson on waivers. The Saints also get two defensive starters back this week that are returning from extended absences due to injuries.

INSIDE SLANT

Considering the number of injuries they've had and their horrendous 1-4 start, it seemed like the bye week couldn't come fast enough for the Saints earlier in the season. But on Sunday, it came not a minute too soon. Bruised, battered and exhausted, the Saints limped to only their second full weekend off since reporting for training camp on July 25 in the fourth quarter of their matchup with the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Clearly, the Saints didn't want to go into the break with a loss. On top of that, they knew that another setback would probably make their final seven games after this week's bye almost meaningless. So they gave coach Jim Haslett and the Bucs everything they had. Leading 14-0 after three quarters on a hot, muggy afternoon, they were gassed in the fourth quarter as the Bucs came back to tie it with just over two minutes left. But the Saints dug a little deeper and came up with a drive that produced John Carney's game-winning 47-yard field goal with only 13 seconds remaining. And even though they were drained, they danced into the bye week with a 4-5 record. Which isn't great, but a lot better than being 3-6 and hopefully out of the playoff race by mid-November. "It was definitely a huge win, and it was a game we needed," Brooks said. "I thought everyone came out and played their heart out, and that's what it takes to get a victory against the world champions." The win was the Saints' third in the past four games, and their only losses in the last five weeks have come to the NFC South-leading Carolina Panthers -- by six points on the road and by three in overtime. While many teams wouldn't have liked going into the bye on a mini-roll, Haslett said it comes at a great time. "No, I'm glad that we're off," he said when asked if the bye came at a bad time. "With all the injuries, it gives us time to rest up and get healthy. I think that's more of a mindset if you are hot and take a week off. "I don't know if I necessarily agree with that," Haslett added. "I have been on both sides of it, but I think it's good going into the bye with a win. I think the rest will help." Haslett gave the Saints two days off after the upset win over the Bucs and then held short practices on Wednesday and Thursday. They'll be off from Friday through Monday and return to work on Tuesday for a Nov. 16 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons in the Superdome.

NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES

--Running back Deuce McAllister set a club record on Sunday with his sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing game in the Saints' 17-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McAllister picked up 110 yards on 26 carries to extend his streak and break the mark he shared with Ricky Williams at five games in a row. Williams set the club record in 2000. McAllister started the streak with a 101-yard day against Indianapolis on Sept. 28. He also had 124 yards at Carolina, 116 yards vs. Chicago and at Atlanta, and 101 yards vs. Carolina. He has piled up 668 yards in the six-week streak and now has 871 yards for the season.
--The Saints went into Sunday's game with only seven takeaways in their first eight games, but came away with six Bucs turnovers -- two interceptions and four fumbles -- in their win. The seven takeaways going into the game was the second-fewest in the league behind the Arizona Cardinals, who had only five in their first seven contests.
--When the Saints held the Bucs scoreless in the first half on Sunday, it marked only the third time in 57 regular-season games under Jim Haslett that it had happened. The last time was in the 15th game of the 2000 season. The Saints held a 13-0 halftime edge over the Atlanta Falcons and went on to a 23-7 victory in the Superdome. It also happened in the ninth game that year as the Saints took a 28-0 halftime lead over the San Francisco 49ers and eventually won 31-15 in the Superdome. The Saints' defense pitched a shutout in the second half of their 31-10 win over the Houston Texans in Week 2 this season -- also in the Superdome.
--Kicker John Carney's 47-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining gave him 302 points in his 2 1/2 seasons with the Saints. That made him only the fourth player in club history to reach the 300-point mark: the others are Morten Andersen (1,318), Doug Brien (513) and Dalton Hilliard (318).
--Quarterback Aaron Brooks moved past Jim Everett into third place in career passing yards in the first quarter against the Bucs. Brooks, who needed just 10 yards going into the game to surpass Everett's total, threw for 142 and now has 10,755 yards with the Saints. Only Archie Manning (21,734) and Bobby Hebert (14,630) have more passing yards.
--The Saints, who led 14-0 going into the final period against the Bucs, now have a 27-4 record when they take a lead into the fourth quarter since coach Jim Haslett's arrival in 2000.
BY THE NUMBERS: 21 -- Consecutive games with at least one field goal for kicker John Carney, whose 47-yarder with 13 seconds left gave his team a win over the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday. The streak is the longest in club history as Morten Andersen had a field goal in 20 straight games from 1987-88.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Hey Jerome, look, it's NFL Films. They've ignored us the last couple of weeks, but they're here today." -- Saints wide receiver Joe Horn to teammate Jerome Pathon in the locker room after a 17-14 upset of the Tampa Bay Bucs.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Defensive end Darren Howard practiced Wednesday for the first time since dislocating his right wrist in the season opener. Howard, who had surgery on Sept. 8, expects to play in the Saints' next game against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 16.

PERSONNEL/INJURY NOTES

--DE/DT Willie Whitehead, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, will likely move inside and start at the three-technique when Howard returns to the starting lineup.
--DE/DT Willie Whitehead experienced symptoms of dehydration after Sunday's game and was hospitalized overnight as a precaution. He was able to practice Wednesday and should be fine for the next game with the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 16.
--LCB Dale Carter injured his left quadriceps muscle and knee against the Bucs and is listed as day-to-day.
--SLB Darrin Smith injured his right hamstring and groin against the Bucs and will likely miss the game with the Falcons.
--LG Kendyl Jacox injured his right knee in the fourth quarter of the Bucs game and is day-to-day.
--RG LeCharles Bentley hyperextended his left knee in the fourth quarter of the Bucs game and is day-to-day.
--LT Wayne Gandy has hamstring and groin injuries, but should be ready for the Falcons.
--WR Joe Horn had an MRI on his injured left knee Monday, but should be ready for the Falcons game.
--RT Victor Riley injured his ankle against the Bucs, but is expected to play against the Falcons.
--DT Kenderick Allen has a knee injury and is listed as day-to-day.
--DE Darren Howard, who had surgery on his dislocated right wrist on Sept. 8, practiced Wednesday for the first time since his surgery and hopes to play against the Falcons.
--WR Donte' Stallworth has missed two straight games with a strained left quadriceps muscle and remains day-to-day.
--SLB Sedrick Hodge, who fractured a small bone in his lower right leg in Week 2, should be able to play against the Falcons after practicing the last couple of weeks.
--RB James Fenderson has a sprained ligament in his left foot and will be out another one-to-two weeks.


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