Brees, Saints pick apart Raiders
August 29, 2009
OAKLAND – Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense looked to be in midseason form. Unfortunately for the fans in Oakland, the Raiders appear to be as well.
Brees completed 14 of 17 passes for 179 yards and drove the Saints to touchdowns on all three drives he played, leading New Orleans to a 45-7 exhibition victory over the Raiders on Saturday.
Coaches put heavy emphasis on the third exhibition game, calling it a dress rehearsal for the season. If that’s the case, the Saints offense is more than ready and the Raiders again need plenty of work on both sides of the ball.
Brees completed his first eight passes, as he had receivers open all over the field. The return of last year’s leading receiver, Lance Moore, from offseason shoulder surgery helped Brees’ cause. He had four catches for 29 yards, including a 5-yarder in the back of the end zone on Brees’ final pass.
That touchdown gave the Saints a 21-0 lead with 13:53 left in the half and brought an early end to Brees’ day and loud boos from a Raiders crowd that has seen plenty of bad football during a six-year stretch when Oakland has lost an NFL-worst 72 games.
The Saints were able to move the ball with ease even without top running backs Pierre Thomas (knee) and Reggie Bush (calf). Mike Bell started, but Lynell Hamilton got the bulk of the work with 16 carries for 95 yards. P.J. Hill added 89 yards and two touchdown runs.
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Brees drove the Saints 80 yards on the opening drive, culminating in Heath Evans’ 4-yard run. Brees capped the next drive when he stepped up in the pocket and hit Devery Henderson on a 40-yard pass behind safety Hiram Eugene.
New Orleans added two more scores before halftime behind backup Mark Brunell, taking a 31-0 lead when Hill scored on a 1-yard run with 1:21 left in the half. That was set up by a 71-yard pass from Brunell to Robert Meacham.
The Saints outgained Oakland 344-60 in the first half, posting 19 first downs to three for the Raiders. New Orleans finished with 536 yards of total offense.
This game was remarkably similar to some of the Raiders’ worst losses a year ago, when they fell behind by 21-0 or worse in four games on the way to a 5-11 record. That made Oakland the first team in NFL history to lose at least 11 games in six straight seasons.
After winning the final two games last year and bringing back Tom Cable as coach this season, things were supposed to be different for the Raiders. Cable has just over two weeks to fix what’s wrong before the opener against San Diego on Sept. 14.
JaMarcus Russell completed two passes for 47 yards to open Oakland’s first drive before being sacked by Roman Harper and losing a fumble in Saints territory. The Raiders went three-and-out on their next three drives and had only one more first down and 13 more yards in the half.
Russell finished 12-for-18 for 153 yards and was sacked three times playing into the third quarter.
The Raiders got their only score on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Garcia to Jonathan Holland that made it 45-7 with 6:06 to play.
NOTES: This marked the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans. The Saints were in the Bay Area at the time, preparing for an exhibition game against the Raiders and ended up staying in California for a week. … The Saints had two touchdowns negated by penalties on one drive in the second quarter before settling for a field goal. … Raiders CB Stanford Routt was called for two pass interference penalties on one drive in the second quarter.