Tag Archives: LSU

Saints’ Brees has streak of 300-yard passing games end at nine

CHICAGO – Saints quarterback Drew Brees had his NFL-record streak of nine consecutive 300-yard passing games snapped in a 26-18 win against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Brees, who threw for 288 yards while completing 29 of 35 pass attempts, set the league mark in a nine-game stretch that spanned the end of the 2011 season and start of the 2012 campaign, matched it last Monday night.

But he certainly wasn’t upset considering the Saints were walking out of Soldier Field with a victory.

“Those stats did not matter one bit in this game, especially,” a smiling Brees said. “This was all about efficiency in the passing game. … It was about continuing drives and possessing the ball.”

RECORD STANDS: About the same time that 300-yard passing streak was being halted, the Cincinnati Bengals were ending the 52-game streak with a touchdown pass of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady was bearing down on the NFL-record streak of 54 games that Brees set last season when the Bengals held the Patriots to a pair of field goals in a 13-6 win in Cincinnati.

“I heard that today; it’s a crazy game,” Brees said of Brady’s streak ending. “In my mind I just assumed he was going to break it, no doubt. Records are made to be broken and he’s one of the greatest, so I was a bit shocked that the streak came to an end.”

ANOTHER 100: Saints tight end Jimmy Graham racked up his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game when he caught seven passes for 106 yards in the first half alone and went on to finish with 135 yards on 10 receptions.

Graham tied the record for consecutive 100-yard games by a tight end, a mark he already shared with Tony Gonzalez. Graham also did it in 2011 to tie the mark after Gonzalez set it in 2000.

FIRST-QUARTER SHUTOUT: For the first time this season, the Saints’ defense didn’t allow a point in the opening quarter.

The Saints gave up 10 points in the season opener to the Atlanta Falcons, then seven each in the second and third games against the Tampa Bay Bucs. They allowed just a field goal in last week’s win over the Miami Dolphins.

MORE DEFENSE: While the Saints’ defense allowed a season-high 18 points, it was the fifth straight game they gave up fewer than 20 points — one game shy of the club record set in 1992.

INACTIVES: The Saints inactives were SS Roman Harper (knee), WR Lance Moore (hand), RB Mark Ingram (toe), NT Brodrick Bunkley (calf), DE Tyrunn Walker (knee), CB Rod Sweeting and T Terron Armstead.

Inactives of note for the Bears were NT Stephen Paea (toe) and S Anthony Walters (hamstring). Paea is the starting nose tackle.

INJURIES: The Saints reported no injuries, but Bears DT Nate Collins left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return.

COACHING CONNECTION: As so often happens each week in the NFL, Saints coach Sean Payton had a connection with two coaches on the other side of the field Sunday.

Bears’ first-year coach Marc Trestman was with the Saints in 2007 when Payton hired him in as a consultant. Also, Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer was on Payton’s staff from 2009 to 2012, serving as running backs coach and later as offensive line coach.

LOUISIANA CONNECTION: The Bears have a strong connection to Louisiana with five players who played their college ball in the state on the active roster.

They are cornerback Charles Tillman (UL-Lafayette), running back Matt Forte (Tulane), tackle Jordan Mills (Louisiana Tech), and safety Craig Steltz and running back Michael Ford, who both played at LSU.

Mills, an Assumption High School grad, started his fifth straight game at right tackle after being selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft. Ford earned a roster spot this summer as an undrafted free agent.

LAGNIAPPE: With 29 completions Sunday, Brees extended his NFL-record streak of at least 20 completions to 57 games in a row. … The Saints are 5-0 for only the fourth time in club history. They previously did it in 1991 (7-0 start), 1993 (5-0) and 2009 (13-0). … The Saints did not give the ball away Sunday and are 24-1 in the regular season and 2-0 in the playoffs when they don’t turn it over since Sean Payton took over in 2006. … Saints rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro recorded his first career sack when he dropped Jay Cutler in the second quarter. … Saints defensive end Tom Johnson returned after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury.

Saints QB Wallace struggles in debut after missing opener

Veteran quarterback Seneca Wallace’s long-awaited debut with the Saints didn’t go as planned Friday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Wallace appeared to lose ground in his battle with Luke McCown for the backup job, twice turning the ball over in the third quarter, resulting in 10 points for the Oakland Raiders.

The Saints raced out to a 23-0 lead late in the second quarter, then held on to post a 28-20 victory.

“It was a tale of two halves for us offensively,’’ Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Wallace inherited a 23-7 lead from Drew Brees on the final play of the first half, only to see the Raiders close the gap to 23-20 by the time rookie quarterback Ryan Griffin of Tulane moved under center early in the fourth quarter.

Wallace’s turnovers came on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. He fumbled at the Saints’ 1 after being blindsided by Raiders defensive end David Bass, who slipped behind rookie left tackle Terron Armstead for the sack and strip.

Raiders’ defensive end Ryan Robinson scooped and scored, cutting the Saints’ lead to 23-14.

On the Saints’ next possession, Raiders middle linebacker Omar Gaither snatched a deflected pass from Wallace out of the air for an interception at the New Orleans 21. A 46-yard field goal from Eddy Carmona trimmed the Saints’ lead to 23-17.

A strained groin kept Wallace out of the Saints’ first exhibition game against Kansas City. McCown (coach’s decision) did not play Friday night.

DID YOU NOTICE?: Line judge Sarah Thomas was part of Friday night’s officiating crew headed by referee Jerome Boger.

Thomas worked several practices at Saints camp earlier this month and is on the fast tracks to possibly joining the NFL next season. Thomas correctly called intentional grounding on Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor late in the third quarter.

SIDELINED SAINTS: Eight players did not dress Friday night — WR Marques Colston (foot), WR Courtney Roby (toe), ILB Curtis Lofton (unspecified), ILB Jonathan Vilma (knee), G Andrew Tiller (unspecified), C Eric Olsen (foot), OLB Junior Galette (knee) and OLB Martez Wilson (elbow).

PLENTY OF TIME: Unofficially, Brees had eight seconds of protection before unloading a 16-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills with 14 seconds left in the first quarter.

Brees initially stood in the pocket, then rolled left as the Saints’ line walled off a slow-developing the-man rush from the Raiders.

BY THE NUMBERS: 11 — Saints sacks after two exhibitions under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, including seven Friday night.

By comparison, the Saints had four sacks after their first two exhibitions a year ago against Arizona (3) and New England (1) under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

LAGNIAPPE: On the Raiders’ opening possession, which ended on downs, quarterback Matt Flynn of LSU twice missed wide open receivers that would have resulted in touchdowns. … Former Saints cornerback Tracy Porter, a native of Port Allen and one of the stars of Super Bowl XLIV, now is playing for the Raiders. He sustained a groin injury with 11:51 remaining in the second quarter and exited the game with four tackles. … Former Saints safety Usama Young also is on the Raiders’ roster … Friday night’s exhibition marked the Raiders’ first preseason trip to New Orleans.

ON TAP: Training camp officially ended with Thursday’s practice. The Saints are expected to return to practice at 4 p.m. Monday in preparation for their third exhibition on Aug. 25 against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium, Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said.

Ten players with Louisiana ties set for Saints’ rookie camp

Ten players with Louisiana ties — including two each from LSU and Southern — are among the 70 players who will participate in the Saints’ three-day rookie minicamp that begins Friday.

The former LSU players are kicker Josh Jasper and defensive tackle Josh Downs, while former Southern wide receiver Charles Hawkins and defensive back Chantz Stevenson will also be on hand for five practice sessions at the Saints training facility in Metairie.

The other six others are quarterback Ryan Griffin and long snapper Billy Johnson (Tulane), safety Malcolm Bronson (McNeese State), wide receiver Brent Leonard and tight end Keavon Milton (UL-Monroe), and former Scotlandville High cornerback Korey Lindsey (Southern Illinois).

Johnson is the son of Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

Saints rookie minicamp roster

The 70 players slated for the Saints’ rookie minicamp, which runs through Sunday:

No. Name Pos. School

1 Dalton Botts^ P Miami (Fla.)

2 Jose Maltos^ K n/a

2 Jon Richt^ QB Mars Hill

3 Josh Jasper^ K LSU

3 John Beck^ QB BYU

4 Ryan Griffin# QB Tulane

11 Kyle Fisher^ WR Bloomsburg

14 Andy Tanner$ WR Midwestern St.

17 Brent Leonard^ WR UL-Monroe

18 Saalim Hakim$ WR Tarleton State

19 La’Rod King^ WR Kentucky

19 Chantz Stevenson^ DB Southern

20 A.J. Davis$ CB Jacksonville St.

20 Khiry Robinson^ WR W. Texas A&M

22 Jermaine Robinson^ DB Toledo

24 Nathan Hoyte^ RB Albany State

26 Wayne Warren^ S Rutgers

29 Ryan Lacy# CB Utah

29 Eric Stephens^ RB Texas Tech

30 Duron Carter^ WR Floida Atlantic

31 Dion Turner$ CB Southern Utah

31 Charles Hawkins^ WR Southern

32 Kenny Vaccaro* S Texas

34 Shawne Alston# RB West Virginia

No. Name Pos. School

34 Korey Lindsey^ CB S. Illinois

35 Austin Johnson$ FB Tennessee

35 Damein Anderson^ CB Mississippi St.

38 Rod Sweeting# CB Georgia Tech

39 Vaughn Carraway^ S Temple

40 Brandyn Thompson^ CB Boise State

44 Taimi Tutogi^ FB Arizona

44 Nate Ness^ CB Arizona

45 Luke Anderson^ S Wyoming

46 Ray Shipman# LB UCF

47 Baraka Atkins^ LB Miami (Fla.)

48 Malcolm Bronson^ S McNeese St.

49 Billy Johnson^ LS Tulane

49 Brandon Robinson^ DB Liberty

52 Kevin Reddick# LB North Carolina

55 Eric Martin# LB Nebraska

55 Jeremiah Warren^ G South Florida

58 Chase Thomas# LB Stanford

59 Rufus Johnson* LB Tarleton State

61 Elliot Mealer# C Michigan

61 Brian Schaefering^ DL Lindenwood

62 Braylon Broughton$ DE TCU

62 Cory Procter^ C Montana

63 Ryan Lee$ G Furman

No. Name Pos. School

63 Semisi Tokolahi^ DL Washington

65 Quinn Ojinnaka^ G Syracuse

65 Josh Downs^ DT LSU

67 Bill McHale^ LB Yale

68 Tim Lelito# G Grand Valley St.

68 Bill Ross^ LB Ark.-Pine Bluff

69 Shaq Wilson^ LB South Carolina

70 Robert Maci^ LB Purdue

72 Terron Armstead* T Ark.-Pine Bluff

72 Joshua Lynn^ LB Furman

74 Glenn Foster# DE Illinois

74 Patrick Brown^ T UCF

75 Lou Alexander^ OL Syracuse

76 Blaize Foltz^ OL TCU

79 Tyler Deacon^ G Arkansas

79 Eric Norwood^ DE South Carolina

83 Keavon Milton# TE UL-Monroe

84 Kenny Stills* WR Oklahoma

85 Andrei Lintz^ TE Washington St.

86 Ryan Deehan^ TE Colorado

89 Josh Hill# TE Idaho State

92 John Jenkins* DT Georgia

* — rookie draft pick; # — rookie free agent;
$ — Saints veteran; ^ — on tryout

Saints’ Morstead eyeing NFL net punting record for season

Over the past seven seasons, the Saints have set numerous NFL records with most of them being produced by a prolific offense led by coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.

On Sunday, however, punter Thomas Morstead can chalk one up for the special teams when the Saints close the season against the Carolina Panthers.

Barring a long return by the Panthers, Morstead will set an NFL single-season record for net average. The four-year veteran, who Wednesday was voted to the Pro Bowl, is averaging 44.4 net yards and could erase the record of 43.99 set last season by San Francisco’s Andy Lee.

“We’ve had a lot of guys set records here such as Drew, Jimmy (Graham), Marques Colston,” special teams coordinator Greg McMahon said. “We’ve had guys who have done great things, but it’s all within the context of the team.

“It would be a great tribute to our team and the guys who are out there with him (to get the record),” he added. “Thomas would be the first guy to tell you it’s a team type of goal. It’s something you would like to achieve.”

Morstead, who leads the league in gross average as well at 50.5 yards per kick, has averaged better than 50 yards in 10 of 15 games this season and averaged 49.7 and 49.3 in two others.

EVANS PRAISED: Guard Jahri Evans, the Saints’ only other Pro Bowl pick, received high praise from interim coach Joe Vitt after being voted to the all-star game for the fourth consecutive season.

“He kind of reminds me of (former Kansas City Chiefs’ star) Will Shields, who I think will be the next guard that goes into the Hall of Fame,” Vitt said. “Jahri has that chance now with the numbers he’s put up and the work habits he has. He’s such a stable person. He knows what he has to do to get better.

“He’s not going to miss a game, not unless he’s in the hospital,” Vitt said of Evans, a three-time All-Pro pick who’s played in 119 consecutive games since being chosen in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. “He’s not going to miss a game.”

PRACTICE REPORT: Fullback Jed Collins, who sat out Wednesday’s practice because of a knee injury, had full participation in Thursday’s workout.

CB Jabari Greer (concussion), RB Pierre Thomas (knee) and DT Akiem Hicks (knee) did not practice again and will likely be questionable at best for Sunday’s game.

For the Panthers, DE Greg Hardy (not injury-related), C Geoff Hangartner (foot) and RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) did not practice.

Former LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell (toe) had full participation Thursday after being limited Wednesday.

TWO IN A ROW?: The Saints are 1-5 in regular-season finales since Payton took over in 2006.

They dropped their first five games to end the regular season before halting the streak with a 45-17 victory over the Panthers last Jan. 1.

Saints’ Evans, Morstead voted to Pro Bowl game

METAIRIE – Guard Jahri Evans, a three-time All-Pro pick, and punter Thomas Morstead will represent the Saints at the Pro Bowl game to be played Jan. 27 in Honolulu.

Evans and Morstead were the only Saints chosen as primary picks although they likely have several alternates that weren’t immediately announced when the AFC and NFC all-star squads were revealed Wednesday night.

Evans, a seven-year veteran, was chosen for the fourth consecutive year as the anchor of an offensive line that ranks third in the NFL in total yards (408.9 per game) and points (28.2 per game).

His four selections are the second-most in club history behind William Roaf, a 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who was picked seven times.

Morstead, who is in his fourth NFL season, is going to the Pro Bowl for the first time. He leads the league in gross (50.5) and net (44.4) punting average and on Sunday could break the NFL’s single-season record for net average, which is 43.99 yards by San Francisco’s Andy Lee last season.

Morstead said his selection was as much about his teammates and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon as it was about him.

“This our fourth year together,” Morstead said of McMahon, “and I credit a lot of my growth to his coaching and his being hard on me and pushing me and trying to get me to do things that maybe I didn’t think I’d be able to do that we do now.

“It’s pretty cool … it’s something neat to share,” he said. “My fiancé is here and I get to share it with all my family. Hopefully, I’ll get to take my parents to Hawaii.”

CAROLINA AGAIN: The Saints will close the regular season against the Carolina Panthers for the fifth time in the past seven seasons when they meet Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints lost in their first three finales against the Panthers in 2006 (31-21), 2008 (33-31) and 2009 (23-10) before breaking through last season with a 45-17 victory in the Superdome on Jan. 1.

PRACTICE REPORT: Not practicing Wednesday when the Saints went back to work were CB Jabari Greer (concussion), RB Pierre Thomas (knee), FB Jed Collins (knee) and DT Akiem Hicks (knee).

TE Jimmy Graham (wrist/finger) and RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) had full participation.

For the Panthers, C Geoff Hangartner (foot) and LB James Anderson (back) did not practice, while RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and WR Brandon LaFell (toe) were limited. LaFell is a former LSU standout.

BREES NOMINATED: For the fifth time this season, Brees is a nominee for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week award after throwing for 446 yards and three TDs in a 34-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Fans can vote online until 2 p.m. Friday at www.nfl.com/FedEx.

TICKETS AVAILABLE: Saints officials said Wednesday the Panthers returned a portion of their ticket allotment for Sunday’s game.

The tickets are available at the Saints ticket office at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie and online at www.ticketmaster.com.

Saints-Panthers Scouting Report

WHEN: Noon Sunday

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

TV/RADIO: Fox/WTGE (100.7-FM), WWL-AM (870-AM, 105.3-FM)

RECORDS: Panthers, 6-9; Saints, 7-8

LAST WEEK: Panthers defeated the Oakland Raiders, 17-6; Saints defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 34-31 (OT)

COACHES: Panthers, Ron Rivera, 2nd season (12-19); Saints, Joe Vitt, 2nd season (9-11)

NFL RANKINGS

Offense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Panthers, 20.9 (21); Saints, 28.2 (3)

Total yards: Panthers, 349.4 (17); Saints, 408.9 (3)

Rushing: Panthers, 121.0 (10); Saints, 100.9 (24)

Passing: Panthers, 228.4 (17); Saints, 307.9 (2)

Defense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Panthers, 21.7 (13); Saints, 27.3 (28)

Total yards: Panthers, 325.9 (8); Saints, 434.1 (32)

Rushing: Panthers, 113.2 (15); Saints, 139.2 (29)

Passing: Panthers, 212.7 (8); Saints, 294.9 (31)

KEY PLAYERS

Panthers: QB Cam Newton, WR Steve Smith, TE Greg Olsen, DE Greg Hardy, DE Charles Johnson, CB Captain Munnerlyn.

Saints: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, RB Darren Sproles, LDE Cameron Jordan, MLB Curtis Lofton, P Thomas Morstead.

PANTHERS SCOUTING REPORT

Offense: The Panthers rank only 17th in total yards, but they’re 10th in rushing behind Cam Newton’s club-leading 707 yards and eight TDs. Wide receiver Steve Smith continues to play at a high level in his 12th season with 70 catches for 1,101 yards and four TDs.

Defense: Carolina ranks eighth in total defense in allowing 325.9 yards a game and eighth against the pass. Ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are a solid 1-2 pass rush duo with 211/2 sacks. In their current three-game winning streak, they’ve given up 33 total points.

Special teams: Kicker Graham Gano has missed just one field-goal attempt since replacing an inconsistent Justin Medlock, while rookie punter Brad Nortman averages just 42.8 gross yards and 36.4 net. The Panthers haven’t distinguished themselves in kick returns or kick coverage this season,

PANTHERS FACTS

The Panthers have two players with Louisiana ties on their active roster — former LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell and rookie defensive end Frank Alexander. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Alexander is a Southern Lab graduate who played collegiately at Oklahoma. … Offensive line coach John Matsko served in the same capacity with the Saints from 1994 to 1996. Matsko was a college teammate of former LSU coach Nick Saban at Kent State. … Sam Mills III, the son of former Saints linebacker Sam Mills, is an assistant defensive line coach with the Panthers. … The Panthers lead the series, 18-17, but the Saints have won five of the last seven matchups.

Compiled by Sheldon Mickles

Saints-Bucs Scouting Report

BUCS SCOUTING REPORT

WHEN: Noon Sunday

WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

TV/RADIO: Fox/WTGE (100.7-FM), WWL-AM (870-AM, 105.3-FM)

RECORDS: Bucs, 6-7; Saints: 5-8

LAST WEEK: Bucs lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 23-21; Saints lost to the New York Giants, 52-27

COACHES: Bucs, Greg Schiano, 1st season (6-7); Saints, Joe Vitt, 2nd season (7-11)

NFL RANKINGS

Offense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Bucs, 27.2 (5); Saints, 26.8 (6)

Total yards: Bucs, 356.8 (14); Saints, 394.2 (3)

Rushing: Bucs, 118.9 (13); Saints, 96.1 (26)

Passing: Bucs, 237.9 (13); Saints, 298.1 (2)

Defense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Bucs, 23.7 (20); Saints, 29.2 (30)

Total yards: Bucs, 389.8 (29); Saints, 436.9 (32)

Rushing: Bucs, 78.2 (1); Saints, 152.4 (32)

Passing: Bucs, 311.6 (32); Saints, 284.5 (30)

KEY PLAYERS

Bucs: QB Josh Freeman, RB Doug Martin, WR Vincent Jackson, DE Michael Bennett, LB Mason Foster, FS Ronde Barber.

Saints: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, RB Mark Ingram, DE Cameron Jordan, WLB Jonathan Vilma, P Thomas Morstead.

BUCS SCOUTING REPORT

Offense: The Bucs’ offense is much improved over the past few seasons, mainly because of quarterback Josh Freeman a pair of newcomers — wide receiver Vincent Jackson and rookie running back Doug Martin. They rank 14th overall and are 13th in both rushing and passing.

Defense: It’s been the best of times and worst of times as they lead the NFL against at just 78.2 yards a game, but are last against the pass at 311.6 yards per game. But they can still get in done, especially with free safety Ronde Barber leading the group.

Special teams: Kicker Connor Barth is 17-of-19 from under 50 yards and has made six from beyond 50, while punter Michael Koenen is also solid in averaging 45.0 yards a kick. The Bucs haven’t been great at returning kickoffs, but the Saints struggled there last week.

BUCS FACTS

The Bucs have two former LSU players on their active roster — defensive end Pep Levingston, who was signed off their practice squad on Saturday, and linebacker Jacob Cutrera — as well as two Louisiana natives, defensive end Aaron Morgan (Amite) and tackle Demar Dotson (Alexandria). Dotson starts at right tackle. … Former Saints’ All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks is on injured reserve with a toe injury. … First-year defensive backs coach Ron Cooper coached LSU’s defensive backs from 2009-11. … The Saints lead the all-time series, 24-17, and are 11-10 vs. the Bucs since both teams joined the NFC South in 2002.

Compiled by Sheldon Mickles

Saints-Giants Scouting Report

WHEN: 3:25 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

TV/RADIO: Fox/WTGE (100.7-FM), WWL-AM (870-AM, 105.3-FM)

RECORDS: Giants, 7-5; Saints: 5-7

LAST WEEK: Giants lost to the Washington Redskins, 17-16; Saints lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 23-13

COACHES: Giants, Tom Coughlin, 17th season (161-126); Saints, Joe Vitt, 2nd season (7-10)

NFL RANKINGS

Offense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Giants, 26.8 (t5); Saints, 26.8 (t5)

Total yards: Giants, 371.2 (10); Saints, 386.4 (6)

Rushing: Giants, 114.8 (15); Saints, 92.3 (27)

Passing: Giants, 256.3 (9); Saints, 294.2 (3)

Defense (league rank in parentheses)

Points: Giants, 20.3 (t9); Saints, 27.3 (28)

Total yards: Giants, 366.9 (22); Saints, 440.5 (32)

Rushing: Giants, 121.8 (21); Saints, 153.8 (32)

Passing: Giants, 245.2 (22); Saints, 286.7 (30)

KEY PLAYERS

Giants: QB Eli Manning, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WR Victor Cruz, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Michael Boley, CB Corey Webster.

Saints: QB Drew Brees, WR Lance Moore, RB Pierre Thomas, DE Cameron Jordan, MLB Curtis Lofton, FS Malcolm Jenkins.

GIANTS SCOUTING REPORT

Offense: The Giants have a top-10 passing game that ranks ninth and a running game that ranks only 15th even though they’re improved from last season. But they win with a passing game with Eli Manning and a stable of receivers led by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

Defense: It’s puzzling when you look at the talent the Giants have on this side of the ball to see they rank 22nd in total yards, 21st against the run and 22nd against the pass. Rankings aside, they can still rush the passer and they can create turnovers.

Special teams: Lawrence Tynes is 32 of 36 on field goals and is 24-of-24 from 39 yards in, while former Saints punter Steve Weatherford is averaging 46.9 yards a kick. The Giants have been shaky on kick coverage, allowing a punt return of 68 yards and a 74-yard kickoff return.

GIANTS FACTS

The Giants have three players with Louisiana ties on the active roster — quarterback Eli Manning and two former LSU standouts, cornerback Corey Webster and rookie wide receiver Rueben Randle. … Former Catholic High and Louisiana Tech defensive end Matt Broha is a member of the practice squad. … Offensive assistant Lunda Wells is a Baker native who played at Southern and served as a graduate assistant at LSU from 2008-11. … The Giants lead the all-time series, 14-12, with the Saints winning just three times in 10 trips to the Meadowlands.

Compiled by Sheldon Mickles

Saints’ Colston ties franchise record for touchdowns

NEW ORLEANS – With a 7-yard scoring catch from Drew Brees in the second quarter Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston tied the club record for career touchdowns.

The touchdown was the 55th of Colston’s seven-year career, tying him with running back Deuce McAllister for most touchdowns in franchise history.

Colston already owns the club record for TD receptions in a career as he surpassed Joe Horn, who had 50 from 2000-06, in a Oct. 7 game with San Diego.

GOOD COMPANY: Each of Colston’s 55 touchdown receptions have come from Brees, which ties them as the ninth-best tandem in NFL history.

They are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana and Jerry Rice and Miami Dolphins’ Dan Marino and Mark Duper.

SHANLE SITS: For the second time in three weeks, Saints strongside linebacker Scott Shanle was a healthy inactive for Sunday’s game.

Like in the game with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Oct. 28, Shanle sat out because the Saints were in their nickel and dime packages much of the time against the Falcons’ passing attack.

When the Saints go to their nickel and dime, they use only two linebackers — Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma.

INACTIVES: In addition to Shanle, the Saints’ other inactives were RB Darren Sproles (hand), T Zach Strief (groin), DE Junior Galette (ankle), WR Courtney Roby (shoulder), CB Elbert Mack and DT Tyrunn Walker.

Inactives of note for the Falcons were LB Sean Weatherspoon (ankle), WR Kevin Cone (groin) and S Charles Mitchell (calf). Weatherspoon, a starter on the outside, missed his second straight game.

INJURIES: Saints cornerback Corey White, who had his first NFL interception in the third quarter, left with an injury to his left knee on the next series and didn’t return. Interim coach Joe Vitt had no update on his status after the game.

For the Falcons, TE Tommy Gallarda injured his shoulder in the first half and did not return.

LINEUP CHANGES: With Strief out, third-year pro Charles Brown started for the first time this season at right tackle.

Also, weakside linebacker David Hawthorne, who had a hamstring injury that forced him to miss five games, started for the first time since Week 3.

SALUTE TO SERVICE: The Saints, along with every other NFL team, observed Veterans Day with a Salute to Service — which included an on-field pregame induction ceremony for 13 new members of the military and a Joint Forces Color Guard for the national anthem.

LAGNIAPPE: Brees’ 29-yard TD to tight end Jimmy Graham in the second quarter extended his NFL-record streak with an least one scoring pass to 52 consecutive games. … Brees also has 20 completions in 45 games in a row, adding to his NFL record, and with 21 Sunday moved into sixth place on the league’s all-time list with 3,843. … Saints running back Chris Ivory had a career-long 56-yard TD run in the first quarter, topping his previous best of 55 yards on Dec. 5, 2010 at Cincinnati. … Falcons center Todd McClure, a former LSU and Central High standout, served as a gameday captain for Atlanta.

Saints’ Brees sends record-breaking ball to Hall of Fame

The ball used by Saints quarterback Drew Brees for the touchdown pass that broke a 52-year-old NFL record in Sunday’s game with the San Diego Chargers has made its way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Canton, Ohio-based Hall announced Tuesday that the ball, which wide receiver Devery Henderson caught in stride for a 40-yard touchdown to give Brees a scoring pass in 48 consecutive games, has been placed in the Pro Football Today Gallery.

Accompanying the ball was a copy of the play sheet signed by offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who called the historic play, and interim coach Aaron Kromer. Brees autographed the ball and added “48” to his signature.

The touchdown pass to Henderson broke a tie with Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, whose record of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown was unmatched from 1960 until Brees tied it on Sept. 30 at Green Bay.

The Hall of Fame noted Unitas’ streak had often been referred to as the NFL’s “unbreakable record.”

“The Pro Football Hall of Fame is pleased to be able to add this milestone football to our collection of priceless artifacts,” HOF president/executive director Steve Perry said in a news release. “This is certainly one of the game’s most significant records and one that for more than 50 years seemed to be simply out of reach.

“We sincerely appreciate Drew’s willingness to allow the Pro Football Hall of Fame to preserve and share his remarkable accomplishment with football fans now and for generations to come.”

Brees will also send the ball that is used for the final touchdown of the streak, whenever that happens, to the Hall of Fame.

BREES NOMINATED: Considering the record and the fact that he threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-24 win over the Chargers, it’s no surprise that Brees has been nominated for two of the weekly NFL awards that are determined by fans in online voting.

Brees is one of three nominees for the FedEx Air Player of the Week and is also up for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week award.

Fans can vote on the awards until 2 p.m. Friday at www.NFL.com/FedEx and www.NFL.com/gmc.

RIDLEY, RANDLE NAMED: New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley and New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle, a pair of former LSU players, are also nominees for NFL awards.

Ridley is up for the FedEx NFL Ground Player of the Week award after rushing for 151 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in a win over Denver, while Randle, who had six catches for 82 yards in a victory over Cleveland, is a candidate for the Pepsi Max NFL Rookie of the Week award.

Fans can vote until 2 p.m. Friday at www.NFL.com/FedEx and www.NFL.com/rookies.

MORE BREES: Brees will be featured in a segment on the NBC Sports Network’s weekly show NFL Turning Point, which airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. on Cox Cable Channel 105.

Brees’ segment will include a look at the Saints-Chargers game in which he was wired for sound for his second game against his old team and his attempt to make NFL history again.

The show will examine Unitas’ record and the touchdown pass to Henderson that put Brees at the top of the list.

INJURY REPORT: While their teammates enjoy their bye week and a six-day break from practice and meetings, injured players will report to the Saints training facility daily for treatment.

The Saints came out of Sunday’s game with two new injuries as cornerback Jabari Greer has a groin problem and tight end Jimmy Graham sprained his ankle.

WR Lance Moore (hamstring), LB David Hawthorne (hamstring), LB Jonathan Casillas (neck), RB Travaris Cadet (shoulder) and DE Turk McBride (ankle) all missed Sunday’s game.

ROSTER MOVE: The Saints on Monday terminated the contract of linebacker Barrett Ruud, who was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks on Aug. 20, and re-signed cornerback Elbert Mack.