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No catches for Jimmy Graham, no problem for Saints

11/30/2014

PITTSBURGH -- Fantasy owners couldn't have been happy. But New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham was perfectly content after he didn't catch a pass -- or even get targeted -- in the Saints' 35-32 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Drew Brees wound up throwing touchdown passes to five different receivers, making the Steelers pay for putting such an emphasis on Graham.

"For me, it's all about the W's. I don't care if it's zero catches, 10 catches or 20, as long as we win," insisted Graham, who explained that the Steelers tried several different tactics against him -- including one he had rarely seen.

Graham said Pittsburgh safeties Troy Polamalu and Will Allen were undercutting most of his routes -- sometimes breaking even before he did.

"Usually, they wait 'til I break. But he's a smart player," Graham said of Polamalu. "And [Allen], he's a smart player too, he did it once or twice. I can tell that they're watching a lot of film and looking at tendencies and looking at formations and splits.

"But we'll watch film and we'll look at ways that we can expose that."

Graham also mentioned some of the more traditional approaches, where he'd get jammed or bumped at the line, with help waiting over the top.

Although Graham can sometimes be just as valuable as a "decoy" as an actual weapon (last year's playoff win at Philadelphia comes to mind), the Saints would obviously prefer to have him more involved in both capacities.

"We didn't come into the game with the idea that we weren't going to target Jimmy Graham," said coach Sean Payton, who insisted that Graham was a heavy part of the game plan Sunday and pointed out that Graham did draw one pass interference call.

"Somebody said after the game that Jimmy didn't have a catch, and I had to think because it sounded crazy to me," Brees said. "Because he is such a big part of the plan and is always targeted.

"Listen, though, we're never going to complain when we score 35 points and have no turnovers. I think we operated at a very efficient rate out there in both the run game and the pass game. The ball just happened to go other places today."