Saints Top Cardinals in the Desert 24-10

New Orleans Saints' Pierre Thomas, left, is stopped on the goal line by Arizona Cardinals' Calais Campbell (93), Ali Highsmith (95), and Aaron Francisco in the second quarter of a preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz.

After months of speculation about how good they really are, the New Orleans Saints did little to distinguish themselves in their 2008 pre-season opener, with the exception of Robert Meachem. Perhaps the most impressive was that there was not a noticeable drop-off in talent once the starters rested and the team had only one turnover.

Drew Brees (6/7, 40 yards) scored first with a pass in the end zone to David Patten, capping an 80-yard drive that used up close to seven minutes of the quarter. Mark Brunell (10/12, 119 yards) saw action for the rest of the half, coming out rusty and unable to score in the red zone. Brunell did connect with Meachem for 49 yards on a drive that ended with Pierre Thomas stepping out of bounds before reaching the goal line near the end of the second quarter and missing a second attempt to run it in. Pierre Thomas was the highlight of the special teams with a kickoff return for 57 yards.

The running game took over in the beginning of the second half. Aaron Stecker gained 39 yards and ran in for a touchdown halfway through the third quarter. Tyler Palko (6/11, 144 yards) came in with about five minutes to go in the third quarter and quickly hit Adrian Arrington for 33 yards. Rookie Taylor Mehlhaff hit a 33-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter. Palko’s bright spot was a short pass to Robert Meachem in the fourth that he turned into a 60 yard touchdown run. Palko did turn the ball over halfway through the fourth.

The starting defense did not look improved and continued to give up big plays, the longest a 34-yard reception by Steve Breaston. One bright spot was Mark Simoneau’s sack during the Cardinal’s first drive. Sedrick Ellis was a non-factor.

The Cardinals did not look good in the first quarter but quickly recovered, with Tim Hightower scoring on a 1-yard run early in the second and then taking the lead with a field goal. Penalties plagued the Cardinals’ starting defense. Their second half was unremarkable.

Overall, neither team appeared to be interested in running the ball with less than 200 yards on the ground between them.

Notable Saints that did not play were Deuce McAllister, Jeremy Shockey, Jonathan Vilma, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Mike McKenzie, Tracey Porter, and Brian Young.

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