Peyton Manning had time to film another commercial. Jeff Garcia and Vince Young sat with what appeared to be a huge bubble surrounding them in the pocket. David Carr, the most sacked player in the league since 2002, barely hit the Louisiana Superdome turf.
Added pressure on the quarterback topped Sean Payton’s to-do list for the New Orleans Saints going into Sunday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The pass rush, much like everything else, found life in the Saints’ first win of the season.
“We had five sacks. That was tremendous,” Saints lineman Hollis Thomas said with a mix of satisfaction and sarcasm.
Having only one sack through the first four games, all losses, it should be a call for celebration when the Saints sacked Matt Hasselbeck five times in one game.
Roman Harper led the way with two sacks on two safety blitzes. Charles Grant finally tacked on his first sack since receiving a hefty contract in the offseason. The men in the middle jumped into action as Thomas and Brian Young picked up the other two sacks.
Payton specifically set out to blitz more against Hasselbeck and the Seahawks, especially when the Saints went into nickel coverage and third-down situations.
“He’s a quarterback that if you give him time to function that he can hurt you,” Payton said. “We felt strongly that if we could hurry him, that that would be to our advantage.”
The Saints coach pointed out how getting pressure on the quarterback every week would be to the team’s advantage. But Payton and the coaches look at what might happen when they throw added pressure at an opposing offensive line.
Harper said the players didn’t have to petition for additional blitzing. He said the coaching staff found they could outmatch the Seattle offensive line.
“I hadn’t blitzed that much this year,” Harper said. “It was either way. Josh (Bullocks) would have had the same thing. It’s just the way the formation lined up. It worked that I blitzed more than Josh. We’re sending people from all kinds of places. I just happened to be the guy that got the bullet and came free.”
Harper received all the blitz calls. Bullocks pulled his weight in his own way.
Bullocks came up with two of the biggest plays against Seattle as a consolation prize for all the sacks. Bullocks blocked a Josh Brown field-goal try and sealed the win with an interception late in the fourth quarter.
Though the Saints admittedly opened up their blitzing horizons, Thomas said the pressure came not just from the added bodies harassing Hasselbeck.
“This is the first time in a while that we were able to get four-man pressure and they weren’t able to chip our ends,” Thomas said. “We were able to be a force inside — BY (Young), (Kendrick) Clancy, Renaldo Wynn and (Antwan) Lake. We had a good rotation. But it’s just one game and that’s what I continue to do. You can’t make a big deal about it. We’ve got to get ready for the Falcons.”
The sacks may increase this week. Atlanta left tackle Wayne Gandy is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and right tackle Todd Weiner (knee) missed Monday night’s loss to the New York Giants. “You always like to hit people and so you get a free hit and a little extra pressure is always good,” Harper said.