The Saints only have 22 total yards on the ground, and Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas both couldn’t gain a yard for the touchdown. The only good news for the Saints comes from the passing game. Drew Brees is 13 for 18 for 138 yards for the half, which is good considering the running game has been absent and Dwight Freeney is playing much better than anticipated. Brees has been extending drives with key third down throws, and Peyton Manning hasn’t had many snaps in the second quarter. Therefore, the score is still close at halftime, at only 10-6. Without the running game, the Saints must win the time of possession battle in the second half. In the second quarter, The Saints held the ball for almost 13 minutes and the Colts didn’t score. If the Colt’s offense cannot get on the field, it may be the best defense the Saints have against Peyton Manning and the passing attack.
Let’s look at some keys in the first half:
1.) “The Saints must run the ball like they did during the season.”
With only nine yards rushing in the first quarter, the Saints haven’t been running well against the Colts so far. They are now a one-dimensional offense. Without a running game, Drew Brees has to continue to throw well, and the Saints’ receivers must catch the ball.
2.) “The Saints must win the turnover battle.”
The secondary hasn’t played well for the Saints. They haven’t forced any turnovers, and the best defense has been the offense so far. If the Saints want to hold the Colts, they have to get some turnovers late in the game.
3.) “The secondary has to play better at controlling the big play and continue to make plays.”
The Saints haven’t made any game-changing defensive plays, and Pierre Garcon made a big catch down field. So far, the Saints have looked worse than the No. 26 ranked pass defense. If they don’t play better, Brees has to continue to keep the Colts offense off the field.
1.) “The offensive line must protect Peyton Manning. “
Manning hasn’t been sacked in the game, and he has been pressure only a handful of times. The result: Dallas Clark and Austin Collie have been open in the middle of the field numerous times.
2.) “The Colts must stop the run.”
Wow. Not only have the Colts stopped the run; only 22 rushing yards for the Saints, they stuffed both Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush on the one-yard line to stop the touchdown. If the Colts keep this up, it will be hard for the Saints to score many points in the game.
3.) “Drew Brees must be pressured.”
Brees has only been sacked once, and he has had time to throw the ball, despite Dwight Freeney playing so much better than expected. The Saints offensive line has done well double teaming Freeney and Robert Mathis. The Colts have to get more pressure on him, or he will make up for the lack of the running game.