After last weeks poor performance by the Saints defense, the team gave its fans reason to hope by holding the Bengals to only 165 yards, 0 touchdowns, 4 sacks, one interception, and one forced fumble. The tradeoff for the team may be the injuries suffered by two major parts of the offense: Marques Colston who was injured in the first half with bruised ribs and Reggie Bush who left with a bruised thigh.
Perhaps the most symbolic of the defenses efforts was the bloodied nose of Cincinnati’s QB Carson Palmer at the end of the second quarter when he was sacked by safety Kevin Kaesviharn. The Bengals offensive line gave up only 17 sacks last year but the Saints were able to get three in the first half alone.
The starting defense created pressure that made it difficult for Cincinnati to get anything going. The Bengals were only able to get 94 yards in the first half, four first downs, and crossed into Saints territory once. CBs Mike McKenzie and Tracy Porter were effective, limiting Carson Palmer’s options. McKenzie, who had just come back from a torn ACL, almost intercepted a pass on the Bengals first drive but the ball touched the ground. Porter forced a fumble on the Bengals first possession that was recovered by Cincinnati but set the tone for the rest of the night. Newly-acquired DE Bobby McCray and Kaesviharn each had 1.5 sacks.
CB Randall Gay was the only Saint defensive player to get burned this week on a 19-yard throw to Antonio Chatham late in the second quarter.
Drew Brees (14/22, 199 yards, 1 TD) threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Stecker with about six minutes to go in the first quarter. Wide receivers Lance Moore and Robert Meachem had 79 yards and 71 yards, respectively, the longest for Meachem a beautiful 54-yarder thrown by Brees midway through the first quarter on that touchdown drive. Devery Henderson dropped a potential touchdown catch in the end zone late in the second quarter. RB Pierre Thomas had 46 yards rushing and 35 yards receiving. RB Deuce McAllister had 9 yards on six attempts.
The long-anticipated debut of TE Jeremy Shockey as a Saint did not materialize and the team said they wanted to give him a little more time before putting him on the field.
Both kickers, Martin Gramatica and Taylor Mehlhaff, had field goals: Gramatica from 42 yards and Mehlhaff from 45.
Carson Palmer (11/16, 105 yards) struggled throughout the first half as Cincinnati was without its two leading receivers: Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzedah. RB Rudi Johnson also did not play.