NEW ORLEANS —
Drew Brees crouched behind center, looked left and liked what he saw.
Kenny Stills was about to be covered by a linebacker who had little chance of staying with the rookie receiver for long.
Moments later, Stills hauled in a 69-yard touchdown, giving the Saints the lead for good in a 35-17 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Before that play, the Saints had spent most of two quarters frustrating coach Sean Payton with poor execution and pre-snap penalties which stalled a pair of promising scoring drives. Both ended with missed field goals by Garrett Hartley — failures which allowed Buffalo to briefly surge ahead 10-7.
After Stills’ score, the Saints defense forced a quick punt and Brees drove New Orleans 77 yards in less than three minutes, hitting hobbled but still effective tight end Jimmy Graham for a 15-yard TD.
“That was a big momentum shift,” Brees said.
The Saints (6-1) widened their lead in the second half and were never threatened again by the Bills (3-5), whose inexperienced quarterback, Thad Lewis, took a beating from an aggressive New Orleans defense that is totally transformed under new coordinator Rob Ryan.
New Orleans sacked Lewis four times, stripped him three times and recovered two of those fumbles.
“We just tried to light him up,” rookie Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “He’s a good player, smart player, but the way we were getting pressure, it’s hard to be great.”
The pressure also forced errant throws, one of which was intercepted by Keenan Lewis.
“We know we’re going to get our share of overthrows and underthrows,” Keenan Lewis said. “When you’ve got a D-line playing that well, in the back end, you can make plays.”
Payton was critical of his team’s performance, warning that the mistakes they made could get them beat when the stakes are higher.
The good news for New Orleans is that people who know football expect the Saints to be playing high-stakes games in January. Among them is Bills coach Doug Marrone, who was one of Payton’s top offensive assistants from 2006-08.
“That’s a playoff team that we played,” Marrone said.
Here are five things learned from the Saints’ sloppy but still convincing triumph over Buffalo:
DOMINANT DREW: Brees finished with five touchdowns for an NFL-record eighth time in his career. It was a vintage performance by a veteran quarterback who may very well make 2013 a memorable year. He completed 76 percent of his passes to 10 different receivers for 332 yards and was not intercepted.
“You never know who’s day it’s going to be,” said Brees, who also had a 42-yard TD pass to Stills. “We always come in with a game plan that has opportunities for everybody.”
FORMIDABLE FRONT: The news was not all bad for Buffalo’s defense. The Bills’ front four produced four sacks of Brees and helped hold New Orleans to 77 yards on the ground. Former LSU players Kyle Williams was in on two sacks. Mario Williams had a sack for a fifth-straight game, his 11th sack of the season.
PLAYING WITH PAIN: Graham said he’s been told he may have to play with pain in his injured left foot the rest of the season, but that apparently won’t stop him from making clutch plays. Although Payton reduced Graham’s snaps, two of his three catches went for touchdowns of 15 and 13 yards.
“I’m going to do as much as they want me to do and what my body allows,” Graham said.
DOWN, NOT OUT: Lewis won the respect of Saints defenders for the way he shook off huge hits. He took a helmet to the ribs and fumbled on his first play, but after receiving several minutes of treatment, he returned for the next series. Later, Lewis was flattened from behind and stripped by Junior Galette, but got back up and led Buffalo on a scoring drive. His highlights included a 13-yard TD to Stevie Johnson.
“I thought he was done” after the first few big hits,” Galette said of Lewis. “But this kid is tough. ... There are a lot of quarterbacks in the league that would have said, ‘OK, it’s not working out right now.’ He has a bright future.”
PERTURBED PAYTON: The Saints head coach has high expectations and, despite a comfortable win, wasn’t happy with his team’s penalties and a couple instances when the wrong number of players were on the field.
“It certainly wasn’t out best effort,” Payton said. “We made mistakes in a lot of areas.”
NEW ORLEANS —
Drew Brees crouched behind center, looked left and liked what he saw.
- Local News
From left are Mayor Ed Pinero, and Historical Society members Barbara Perez, Judy Seal, Juanita Gex, Linda Tufaro, Carolyn Early, Jerry Stough and Paul MacInnis.
Historical group gets keys to historic City Hall
Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero gave the keys to the historic portion of Picayune City Hall to members of the Picayune Historical Society in a ceremony prior to Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune City Council.
Defendants seek response extension
Attorneys for the defendants in a lawsuit with Pearl River County Hospial filed a motion on Nov. 20 requesting an extension on the amount of time in which the defendents must file a response.
Police investigate stabbing
The Picayune Police Department reported officers were dispatched to Highland Community Hospital on Nov. 27, at 8:33 p.m. in reference to an aggravated assault involving Russell Still, Jr., age 53 of 2310 Jackson Landing Rd. The alleged incident occurred at the residence of the suspect, said Jeremy Magri, assistant to the chief.
Aldermen make progress on two ordinances
The Poplarville Board of Aldermen made progress in an animal control ordinance and code enforcement issues at the Tuesday evening meeting. The aldermen also addressed the removal of Election Commissioner Robin Nix and passed the change of traffic direction on Julia Street to become a two-way on Saturday and Sunday.
Police make PRCC drug arrests
In the early morning hours Wednesday, Poplarville Police Department, in conjunction with Pearl River Community College Campus Police and Picayune Police Department, three arrests were made on PRCC’s campus for selling controlled substances.
- Historical group gets keys to historic City Hall
Third annual Christmas on the Rails and Shopping by Candlelight
The Third Annual “Christmas on the Rails” is from 5 until 8 p.m. Friday in conjunction with Picayune Main Street’s Shop by Candlelight and Art Works sponsored by Greater Picayune Arts Council (GPAC). Art Works and Shop by Candlelight go on until 9 p.m. Sometime during the evening, the Greater Picayune Area Chamber of Commerce will announce the winner of the Best Decorated Store Front contest.
- CWC Pilgrimage: A second time around
- Business withstands test of time
- Vocability: Did Black Friday make you blue?
- Partners delivers Presents for Pearl River County
- Third annual Christmas on the Rails and Shopping by Candlelight
- State News
Magistrate rejects Nagin’s bid for report
A federal magistrate refused Tuesday to order prosecutors to provide former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin with a copy of a sealed report on alleged prosecutorial misconduct before his trial on bribery charges.
U.S. Magistrate Alma Chasez said in her order that Nagin doesn’t need the report that federal prosecutor John Horn prepared in a separate case to defend himself at trial.
- High court wary of campaign contribution limits
- Texas Guard refuses to process same-sex benefits
- Obama to seek congressional OK for Syria action
- Boggs given NO-style funeral
- Magistrate rejects Nagin’s bid for report
It’s a boy! UK’s Kate gives birth to royal heir
It’s a boy!
Prince William’s wife, Kate, has given birth to a prince who is now third in line to the British throne.
- Barbara becomes hurricane off Mexican coast
- Argentine Jorge Bergoglio elected Pope Francis
- Pope Benedict VXI resigning
- Suicide bomber kills guard at US Embassy in Turkey
- It’s a boy! UK’s Kate gives birth to royal heir
Rural homeless less obvious
As we transition from the traditional Thanksgiving feast into the Christmas season, it’s easy to forget that there are those for whom Thanksgiving and Christmas are just another day.
- Budget can kicked down road
- State should make vendor access easier
- MSU to host historic reunion game
- Still room for pragmatic Republicans?
- Rural homeless less obvious
- News Distribution Network
Is the NCAA a sinking ship?
The daily flow of bad news chronicling the NCAA seems to fall somewhere between damaging and defeated. By comparison, the NCAA’s myriad problems make the Obama Administration’s roll out of the Affordable Care Act look smooth.
- 12 words you should stop using right now
- Anonymity is fleeting when people are tweeting
- High school student accused in math teacher's murder
- Google cameras capture a walk through Arlington National Cemetery
- Is the NCAA a sinking ship?
- CNHI Special Projects
A man check his car on Interstate 35 after a tornado ripped through Moore Monday afternoon.
Audio: How can we better prepare for tornadoes?
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
- The Big One: Preparing for mid-America earthquake
- Technology speeds disaster alerts, response
- Warning Signs: Technology speeds disaster alerts, response
- Tips for tornado readiness
- Audio: How can we better prepare for tornadoes?