With the third week of the 2011 preseason coming to a close, the New Orleans Saints didn’t have to travel very far for their game with the Oakland Raiders after training for the past week in Oxnard, California. This would be the last real playing time for any of the starters before the opener on September 8, 2011 and Drew Brees and company wanted to make sure they made it count.
The Saints stepped out on the field in Oakland and honestly appeared to be in midseason form as they troucned the Raiders 40-20. Drew Brees led the first-team offense for almost a full two quarters before making way for the second-stringers, but it was still a close game at that point.
Image gallery from New Orleans Saints Vs. Oakland Raiders
There were times when the Saints looked a little shaky, mostly on defense, but there was not much stopping them for the majority of the evening. Brees finished the evening compelting 15 of 23 passes for 189 yards on a 65 percent completion rate. Anyone wondering if he has shaken off any rust can set that to rest.
Chase Daniel served quite admirably as the back-up though coming in and completing half of his passes (9 of 18) for 191 yards and two touchdowns. One of those was a wide open 39-yard bomb to Adrian Arrington which finished off the scoring for both teams.
Rookie running back Mark Ingram opened things up for the Saints scoring-wise when he helped complete an 80-yard drive with a one-yard run up the middle for the touchdown. The second Saints drive of 80-yards was finished off with Pierre Thomas diving over the pile at the goal line for his touchdown run.
A few back and forth scores with the Raiders actually saw the silver and black go up 20-17 after a Sebastian Janikowski field goal halfway through the third quarter. That would be it though as the Saints poured it on from there.
Many players were playing hard tonight in trying to secure a spot on the final 53-man roster, and the most impressive was that of running back Joique Bell. The traveled back out of Wayne State had six rushing attempts for 50 yards and 92 receiving yards on two receptions. The bulk of those yards acme on a short pass which Bell turned into a leaping 60-yard run down the sideline complete with a hard stiff arm.
Some problems did persist throughout most of the second quarter for the Saints defense as far as tackling went, but it wasn’t a bad performance overall. The Saints D chalked up two turnovers and held the Raiders to 4 of 11 third down attempts while giving up 380 yards.
Defensive tackle Swanson Miller stepped it up in the fourth quarter recording two sacks for the Saints for a loss of 16 yards. Junior Galette recovered a fumble and safety Jonathon Amaya recorded an interception late in the first half.
One of the biggest notes is that kicker Garrett Hartley was said to have tweaked his hip during the game which caused New Orleans to go for two-point conversions on their final two touchdown scores. Coach Sean Payton said after the game that he doesn’t think “it’s anything serious.”
The Saints return to New Orleans on Monday and will face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, September 1, 2011 in the Superdome for their final preseason game.
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