After another home win, Saints seek road success
With their latest double-digit triumph over a playoff contender,
the New Orleans Saints left little doubt about how tough they are
to beat in the Superdome.
Unfortunately for them, the next two of their remaining three
games are on the road, where their results have been mixed, and
playoff seeding is on the line.
”We like to be able to take the show on the road, but
definitely playing in the dome is an advantage,” Saints center
Brian de la Puente said Monday. ”We know that. Teams know that
coming in here that it’s a difficult place to play. There’s unique
things that present themselves when you’re on the road and that’s
part of it.”
The Saints, who are 7-0 at home and 3-3 outside New Orleans,
will travel to St. Louis on Sunday. The week after, they visit
Carolina, which fell one game behind the Saints in the NFC South
race after New Orleans dominated their meeting in the Superdome on
Sunday night, 31-13.
New Orleans doesn’t expect either game to be easy. The Rams
(5-8) have struggled this season but are 3-3 at home, where they
were one of only three clubs to beat the Saints in the 2011 regular
The Panthers, meanwhile, will be trying to chase down the Saints
for the NFC South title and redeem themselves for their lopsided
loss in New Orleans.
Asked what his message will be to his players during this
pivotal stretch, coach Sean Payton referred vaguely to ”the
details of fundamentally improving,” and ”working on all the
little things that help you win.”
If there are specific areas where the coach wants his team to
improve in terms of preparing for road games, Payton was in no mood
on Monday to discuss it, responding, ”Nothing in particular.”
The past two games against fellow playoff contenders have
provided a sharp contrast in regards to how New Orleans has
functioned at home versus on the road this season. The Saints went
to Seattle hoping to take over the top spot in the NFC, only to
lose 34-7. During that game, Payton noticed what the Seahawks did
in their stadium to keep the fans engaged or project amplified
music at the visitor’s sideline (during moments when NFL rules
allow that). Those measures make it generally more difficult for
visiting teams to communicate.
Payton gave thought to those things as the Saints returned home
against a Panthers squad riding an eight-game winning streak.
”When you go somewhere and you take Seattle, for example, you
have a tough loss … but you notice other things than just
football,” Payton said. ”The environment is extremely difficult
to play in and there are a lot of things that have been well
thought out. Your mind starts racing in regards to improving your
The Saints’ defense has thrived on well-timed crowd noise in the
Superdome. New Orleans’ offense seems to benefit even more from
being at home. The crowd lowers the volume for quarterback Drew
Brees, making communication easier. In addition, playing indoors,
on a familiar artificial surface and under familiar lighting, seems
to aid in the execution of the Saints’ precision passing game.
”It helps them as far as their speed and their timing,”
Carolina coach Ron Rivera noted Sunday night. ”The things that
they do here, they do very well.”
New Orleans is averaging 32.9 points at home and only 18.8
points on the road. Five of the Saints’ seven home wins have come
by double digits, including three by four or more touchdowns.
Playoff hopefuls Dallas and Arizona both have lost by 24 or more
points in the dome.
The Saints’ three road victories came by margins of eight, four
and two points.
”It’s not so much about being on the road that really causes
problems,” Saints safety Roman Harper said. ”It’s the fact that
when we don’t have success early, how guys respond and things like
”When we come out and we play fast, we get off to good starts
offensively, defensively, that’s when we’re at our best,” Harper
continued. ”We’ve got try to find a way, no matter where we’re at
location-wise, to come out of the locker room and start fast.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org