A QUICK LOOK
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
*Intro: *The Colts and Saints meet in New Orleans on Sunday Night Football. This is the first meeting between the clubs since Super Bowl XLIV. The game marks the second of three consecutive road dates for Indianapolis.
INDIANAPOLIS – A capsule look at the Colts' opponent this week, the New Orleans Saints of the NFC South.
Synopsis: Heading into their third prime-time matchup of the season, the Indianapolis Colts will travel to New Orleans this Sunday in a rematch of Super Bowl XLIV.
The Colts will look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium, and the Saints will be looking to do the same, following their loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Heading into week six, the Saints had won four straight contests after falling to the Packers in week one. However, the team understands that it missed a great opportunity to distance itself from the rest of the division, and they hope to get back on track this week.
"We definitely (missed that opportunity), but at the end of the day, that's one game, so we will put it behind us (and) make the corrections," said Saints receiver Marques Colston. "We got a tough one (game) next week."
Along with the difficult task of facing the Buccaneers on the field, the Saints also had to overcome an equally difficult obstacle off the field of play when Head Coach Sean Payton was injured while coaching on the sideline. Payton left the game and surrendered play-calling duties after suffering a left tibial plateau fracture and a lateral meniscal tear.
"Nobody ever thinks their head coach is going to get knocked out of a football game, that's the last person that's going to get knocked out of a football game," said Saints running back Mark Ingram. "So it was definitely different, something we had to adjust to, but I think we handled it pretty well."
Despite losing their head coach for the second half of the game, the Saints still managed to fight their way back into the contest after trailing, 20-7. New Orleans drew to within one score with 12:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, but could not overtake Tampa Bay down the stretch.
The loss dropped the Saints to 4-2 on the season, and into a tie atop the NFC South.
Drew Brees has been able to put together a fast start to the season, as he currently ranks first in attempts (264), completions (181) and second in yards (2,152) among quarterbacks. He also ranks fourth in passing touchdowns (13) and second in completion percentage (68.6).
One of Brees' main beneficiaries has been second-year tight end Jimmy Graham. Among tight ends, Graham currently ranks first in receiving yards (620), first in receptions (39) and tied for third in touchdowns (3).
This season the Colts are surrendering 392.5 yards per game to opposing offenses, and Indianapolis understands that in order to come away with a win it will need solid performances on both sides of the ball. However, there will not be any more pressure this week than in weeks past.
"You don't want to look at it as putting any more pressure, because, certainly, every time we get the ball there's an emphasis to score and put some kind of points on the board, whether it be field goal or touchdown," said Curtis Painter. "So I wouldn't say more emphasis, but it's certainly going to be a challenge for us and we're going to have to be on our game."
Antoine Bethea believes the secondary has the right mindset and focus to turn things around and overcome the unit's struggles.
"Just technique. Continue to harp on techniques, that's the main thing," said Bethea. "As a (defensive back) you have to have a short memory. So whatever happened in the past we just have to leave it in the past. This is a new game and a new opponent. If you come out and make some plays, then everybody will forget about the past two weeks. So we just have to come out and play some good (defense), and just do the things we're taught to do. I think we'll be fine."
*2011 Record: *4-2, T-1st in NFC South.
*Head Coach: *Sean Payton, sixth season as Saints and NFL Head Coach (57-35).
*Last game: *In a matchup for first-place in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints traveled to Tampa to face a hungry Buccaneers squad. Drew Brees and Josh Freeman battled it out through the air, as the two combined for 686 passing yards and three touchdowns on 86 attempts. However, the Saints were unable to overcome a 20-10 halftime deficit, falling to 4-2 on the season.
*2011 NFL Rankings: *Offense – Overall, 2nd (452.2); Rushing, 18th (107.8); Passing, 2nd (344.3); Defense – Overall, 17th (365.5); Rushing, 14th (109.2); Passing, 19th (256.3).
*2011 Leading Passer: *Drew Brees (181-264 comp., 2,152 yards, 68.6 pct., 13 TDs, 8 INT, 97.0 rating).
*2011 Leading Rusher: *Mark Ingram (71 carries, 238 yards, 3 TDs).
*2011 Leading Receiver: *Jimmy Graham (39 receptions, 620 yards, 3 TDs).
2011 Leading Sacker: Roman Harper (3.5).
2011 Turnover Breakdown: -7 (Tied-29th).
First-round draft choices: Cameron Jordan, defensive end. With the 24th overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, the New Orleans Saints selected Cameron Jordan out of the University of California. Jordan was named honorable mention All-American and first-team All-Pac 10 as a senior. He was also awarded three team awards including the Bear Backer Award for California's MVP on defense.
Mark Ingram, running back. With the 28th overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, the New Orleans Saints used their second selection in the first round to take Mark Ingram out of the University of Alabama. Ingram was honored as Alabama's first Heisman Trophy winner in 2009, and helped lead Alabama to a National Championship. He was also awarded Consensus First-team All-American and SEC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2009.
*2010 Review: *Following a magical Super Bowl run in 2009, the Saints would have been hard-pressed to improve upon the franchise's first-ever Super Bowl title. However, Sean Payton and company once again found a way to make the playoffs, finishing 11-5 and earning a Wild Card berth. A 41-36 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs ended the Saints season sooner than expected. Despite injuries in the backfield that plagued New Orleans throughout the season, Drew Brees was able to carry the extra workload for the Saints. Brees further enhanced his status as one of the premier quarterbacks in the league, throwing for 4,620 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Last time in Playoffs: L, 36-41 vs. Seattle Seahawks (2011).
*Last time in Super Bowl: *2010.
*Super Bowl Championships: *One (2010).
*2010 Pro Bowl Selections: *Drew Brees QB, Jahri Evans OG, Carl Nicks OG, Jonathan Vilma LB, Roman Harper S.
Quotable I: On the loss to the Buccaneers:
"The energy was high. The guys were out there fighting (and) playing until the whistle's end. Everyone felt determined to play. We got to tip our hats to Tampa. They came out and played well. They had a good game plan. We knew it was going to be tough coming in here on the road and facing them. But we felt we would be able to win the game."
--- Saints Defensive End Will Smith
Quotable II: On the Colts:
"I have not watched the Colts film yet. We put closure on this thing here. At 3:00 pm, we'll start watching film. I know this: it's a team that we played two years ago in the World Championship. I know that they're missing a future Hall of Fame quarterback, but this is a league of world-class athletes and this is a league of a lot of pride. They're going to give us their 'A' game, and if we don't have our 'A' game then we don't have a chance. The staple of our program is preparation, and if we don't prepare or do the things that we're supposed to do to beat an opponent then it's going to be a bad outcome."
--- Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt