Play it again, Saints
DOWN BUT NOT OUT New Orleans Saints guard Chris Naeole (65) scrambles for the ball with St. Louis Rams cornerback Todd Lyght after it was fumbled by Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks during first quarter NFL action in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. AP photo
By Richard Dark/The Meridian Star
Dec. 26, 2000
NEW ORLEANS Second verse same as the first.
For those that simply didn't get enough of the season-finale clash between the New Orleans Saints and the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, then you're in luck. It's on again in the Superdome this Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Rams are still among the living after holding off the Saints in the Superdome 26-21 and getting a 54-yard field from Chicago Bears rookie Paul Edinger. The spectacular boot upset the Detroit Lions and allowed the Rams to squeeze through the closing playoff door.
Even though the team with the NFL's most formidable offense faces his bunch after only a six-day layoff, Saints head coach Jim Haslett was still upbeat afterward.
Maybe Haslett should have said stop him.
Marshall Faulk, a native of New Orleans, came home for Christmas with fists flying and legs pumping. All Faulk did was take over the game in the second half when Rams starting quarterback Kurt Warner was knocked out of the game on a sack by Saints defensive end Willie Whitehead.
Faulk's frenetic foray translated into a mind-boggling 220 yards on 36 carries. He also caught seven balls for a total of 41 yards. If the Saints are to have any hope of garnering that elusive first playoff win, they will no doubt have to ensure that a stinging performance such as that, doesn't happen again.
Several Saints players don't think it will. Wide receiver Joe Horn was one of them.
After being held down for three quarters, the Saints offense managed a pair of scores in the final frame, but were not able to get the ball back after pulling to within five.
At the start of the second half, Glover broke a recent sackless streak to increase his season total to 17, matching the club-record set by Pat Swilling in 1991. But it was the inability by the defense to harness Faulk on the Rams' final drive.
However, when asked what he thought the reason was for the breakdown during the game's last stand, Glover's response was terse.
The Saints second-year prodigy in Aaron Brooks might have finally come back down to earth. Although Brooks tallied a respectable 208 yards and a pair of TD passes, he completed only 16-of-31 attempts and threw an early interception which led to the Rams' first score.
The quarterback out of Virginia looked tentative in spots and due to a two-deep zone defense, was unable to get untracked scrambling with the football.
That certainly wasn't the case with the Rams' offense, as the champs torched the Saints for 474 yards.
According to Fred McAfee, the Saints will too.
McAfee likened the team's overall attitude to that of a prizefighter.
So far, the rounds up to this point are all even, and the decisive Round Three of this gutter war resumes Saturday.
Richard Dark is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.