Saturday, January 4, 2014
Halftime report: Eagles 7, Saints 6
By Mike Triplett
PHILADELPHIA -- Points were hard to come by in the first half Saturday night, but two thrown interceptions by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees have swung the momentum. Here are a few thoughts on the action:
Picked off: The problem that has plagued the Saints on the road all season crept up again -- twice. Brees committed two unforced errors with two interceptions. The first was a deep ball intended for Kenny Stills. The ball hung up in the air, and Stills couldn’t locate it, but cornerback Bradley Fletcher did.
The second interception was more of a stunner. Brees tried to fire a short pass to receiver Lance Moore, but he threw it right into the waiting arms of linebacker DeMeco Ryans. That one was also more costly since the Eagles followed up with a touchdown drive.
Brees only threw 12 interceptions all season. But he threw two of them early in a Week 15 loss at St. Louis, and two in the Week 16 loss at Carolina. It’s an ugly trend he can’t afford to continue in the second half. ... A good reminder -- the same thing happened in the Saints’ last playoff game at San Francisco two years ago, and Brees rallied back with a monster second half.
Defensive battle: The Saints’ defense, meanwhile, has been holding its own for most of this surprisingly low-scoring duel. The Eagles have only 122 yards. Dangerous running back LeSean McCoy has just 42. Saints Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan has been particularly good with a sack and a couple other stops in the backfield. And cornerback Keenan Lewis has remained stingy against big-play threat receiver DeSean Jackson, who has no catches.
But the Saints lost the big-play battle 1-0. They haven’t forced any turnovers. And they allowed a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Riley Cooper when Foles had too much time to find an open man against a three-man rush.
Running strong: The Saints have stuck with the run game even more than usual tonight, and it’s been working well. They have 94 yards on 16 carries, including 41 on seven carries by Mark Ingram. The good news for them is that the score remains close, so they can remain patient.