Pats Aim to End Big Easy’s Party
Darren Sharper was trying to describe the atmosphere in the Big Easy as the New Orleans Saints put their 10-0 perfection on the line against the New England Patriots at home today.
"It's like Mardi Gras in November," the safety said.
New Orleans finally has a team worth a Bourbon Street celebration before the playoffs arrive. The Saints average an NFL-high 36.9 points a game. They have outscored opponents 369-204. "Most of the time they are running out the clock in the middle of the third quarter," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.
New Orleans holds an overwhelming 188-78 margin in the second half, including 105-24 in the fourth quarter. Eight of the Saints' 10 victories have come by double digits, the only real scare being a 28-23 decision vs. the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 15.
New England quarterback Tom Brady remembers how 10-0 feels. It was two years ago that the Patriots fashioned an unprecedented 16-0 regular season only to be shocked by the New York Giants 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII.
"I remember what kind of confidence we had taking the field as an undefeated team and knowing that, if we played a good game, it was going to be almost impossible for teams to beat us," he says.
Turnovers might determine the outcome. New Orleans leads the NFL with 29 takeaways, 20 on interceptions.
"You've just got to go in there and think that we can't turn the ball over and give them easy points because they're going to capitalize on them," Brady said.
Everything points to a shootout. "It's not very often that you look at a game and say, 'It's going to be in the 40s,' " ESPN's Ron Jaworski said. "This could be that kind of game."