Week 3 Game Recap: New Orleans Saints 16, Minnesota Vikings 33
What you need to know
The Saints turned the ball over on the opening kickoff of the game, putting them in a hole to start the game and setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. The offense looked completely out of sync and extremely sloppy, turning the ball over four times and committing 14 penalties, one taking away a punt return for a touchdown and another giving the ball back to Minnesota following an interception.
QB Aaron Brooks was off all day, and completed only five of 16 passes in the first half for 67 yards, including an interception that led to a Minnesota touchdown. His first completed pass to a Saints’ receiver didn’t come until the last play of the first quarter. He was able to connect with TE Ernie Conwell during the team’s two minute offense for a 13 yard score, but failed trying to complete the two point conversion.
The Saints did attempt to get RB Deuce McAllister going early, with three straight carries on the first drive, the first of which he ran for a ten yard gain. When they gave him the ball, McAllister made the most of it, running for 48 yards on nine carries in the first half. With the team trying to dig themselves out of a hole and unable to sustain long drives, his touches were limited. The team trailed Minnesota the whole game, resulting in only 14 carries on the day for McAllister.
Joe Horn, Donte’ Stallworth and the entire New Orleans passing attack failed to get on track. Horn caught only one ball on seven targets and his frustration got the best of him in the second quarter, when after two straight incompletions, he was hit with a taunting penalty after jawing with Viking LB Dontarrious Thomas. One pass thrown his way was intercepted and led to a Viking FG. Stallworth was shut out completion wise, but did have a 77 yard punt return for a touchdown called back. Devery Henderson led the team with 95 yards on three catches and TE Ernie Conwell had the teams only receiving TD.
New Orleans tried to make a game of it in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 24-16, but could not convert offensively or stop Minnesota defensively, where K Paul Edinger kicked FGs on three consecutive drives, putting the game out of reach.
The Vikings earned their first win of the season by capitalizing on Saints’ turnovers and executing offensively. After New Orleans fumbled the opening kickoff, Minnesota showed they were ready to play when QB Daunte Culpepper hit WR Travis Taylor on the first play from scrimmage for a 24 yard touchdown grab. The play was challenged, but ruled a score after the replay showed Taylor kept both feet in bounds. This play seemed to set the tone for the Vikings’ offense for the rest of the game. Culpepper looked confident leading his club and for the first time this season, did not turn the ball over. He completed 21 of 29 passes, to eight different receivers, for 300 yards and seemed to control the game for the first time this year.
Minnesota also got their running game going with a breath of fresh air and new starter Mewelde Moore. In his first start, Moore reached the century mark, rushing for 101 yards on 23 carries, and showed the burst and change of direction he had shown last year. As a result, he kept former starting RB Michael Bennett on the sidelines for most of the game. Bennett carried only two times for four yards.
With Nate Burleson out of the lineup due to injury, Minnesota had to look elsewhere for big plays in the passing game. Rookie WR Troy Williamson and veteran Marcus Robinson each had receptions of over 50 yards, with Williamson hauling in a 53 yard grab for a TD and Robinson a 68 yard catch. Robinson’s catch set up a Paul Edinger FG, but the attempt failed.
The Vikings’ defense was able to limit big plays by the Saints, and was helped by an early lead put up by their offense. They got to QB Aaron Brooks with penetration and good man to man play, limiting him to 12 out of 32 passing attempts and two INTs.
What you ought to know
|QB Aaron Brooks, Pass: 12 - 32 - 199 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 29 - 0|
Brooks was off his game the whole afternoon. He just could not connect with his wide receivers and his decision making was questionable. He was unable to generate anything in the first half until the 2:00 warning, and the team’s first six drives consisted of five three and outs and an INT. His TD came right at the two minute warning when he hit TE Ernie Conwell for a 13 yard score.
McAllister seems to always suffer from the team’s inability to stop opposing teams from putting them in a quick deficit, and the same thing happened with Minnesota. When his number was called, he did make the most of it, rushing for 63 yards and one TD on 14 carries, and he caught all four passes thrown his way for 19 yards. His TD came in the fourth quarter on a one yard run following a pass interference call on Minnesota in the end zone. McAllister got the Saints inside the Vikings’ ten yard line with a 13 yard run.
Smith spelled McAllister when he needed a break and rushed for 22 yards on three carries, with 17 coming on one rush.
McAfee fumbled a kickoff late in the fourth quarter that ended the game. He did have 184 return yards, but they came on seven returns.
Stecker fumbled the opening kickoff, which led to a Minnesota score. He barely saw the field and was not targeted at all in the passing game.
Henderson led the team in receiving with 95 yards on three catches, and made a nice 66 yard catch and two catches that resulted in first downs.
|WR Joe Horn, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (7 targets)|
Joe Horn finished the game with only one reception on seven targets, but drew a pass interference call in the end zone that resulted in Deuce McAllister’s touchdown.
Stallworth saw four passes thrown his way but failed to catch any of them.
Conwell was Brooks’ favorite target, getting eight looks from the QB and finishing with 65 yards and the Saints only passing TD. He had one catch that would have been a 14 yard gain called back after a challenge.
Carney hit his only FG attempt of 22 yards and made good on one XP.
New Orleans gave up 147 yards on the ground, 101 of which belonged to RB Mewelde Moore. They were on the field a lot, and looked worn down and frustrated at times.
The Saints’ pass defense could not contain the Vikings’ receivers, giving up 300 yards passing and plays of 53 and 68 yards. They struggled in the first half, giving up 227 passing yards and all three of Minnesota’s TDs came through the air.
Culpepper had his best game of the season so far, torching New Orleans for 300 yards and three TDs and throwing only eight incompletions. He looked comfortable in the pocket and made the Saints pay. Culpepper threw two TDs to Travis Taylor, and one to rookie WR Troy Williamson and got his roll on early and often. Culpepper’s only mistake came on a free play, where he was intercepted by Dwight Smith, but the play was called back for an offsides penalty. He had no turnovers for the first time this season.
Mewelde Moore made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 101 yards in his first start of the season. He showed great burst and change of direction, cutting through the Saints defense and making defenders miss. His ability to make big plays showed as well, as he had a 28 yard run, as well as a 15 yard run nullified because of penalty.
|RB Moe Williams, Rush: 4 - 2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 4 - 0 (3 targets)|
Williams was not a big factor in the game, with only two yards rushing and four receiving.
Michael Bennett may have witnessed his chances of starting for Minnesota disappear right before his eyes. Mewelde Moore was effective running behind the Viking OL and may have secured the starting spot in the Minnesota backfield, at least for now. Whether or not Bennett is traded remains to be seen.
Taylor seemed to be on the verge of a breakout game, with two TDs in the first quarter. However, he was targeted only two times after the first quarter, finishing with three receptions for 40 yards.
Williamson showed Vikings fans what the front office imagined when they selected him as the replacement for Randy Moss in this year's draft. His ability to stretch the defense and challenge the Saints secondary resulted in plays of 22 and 53 yards, the latter of which resulted in a touchdown.
Robinson caught two of the six balls thrown his way. One reception, a 68 yard grab, set up a Viking FG, but the attempt failed.
Robinson’s only major contribution came on a 46 yard kickoff return that setup an Edinger FG in the fourth quarter.
Jermaine Wiggins was Culpepper’s favorite target, getting eight looks and turning in six of them for 60 yards. For a guy so big, he moves well and has soft hands and seems to be Culpepper’s security blanket in the passing game.
Edinger connected on four of five FGs from distances of 24, 28, 48 and 34 yards and hit the upright from 33 yards, his only miss of the day. He made all three of his extra points, and helped Minnesota finish off the Saints, with three fourth quarter field goals.
Minnesota’s rush defense did a fair job containing McAllister, but was definitely helped by the fact the Saints trailed from the get go, limiting McAllister’s touches. This was the one area the defense struggled, giving up a total of 114 yards on 20 carries (5.7 ypc average) but as a result of the score, the New Orleans running game was limited.
The Viking pass defense limited the Saints to 199 yards passing on 12 of 32 attempts and shut down the tandem of Joe Horn and Donte’ Stallworth, limiting them to one catch between the two of them. They gave the Saints life on a fourth quarter pass interference call in the end zone on Ken Irvin that led to a Deuce McAllister TD that cut the lead to eight, but intercepted a Brooks' pass and forced two punts to seal the game.