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(((((Live Now)))) {{ Chicago vs New Orleans }} A supper performance match live stream AT 8:00 PM

Posted Feb 20 2013 12:53am


New Orleans' second-year tight end had six catches for 79 yards, including an acrobatic 31-yarder over the middle that required him to twist to his back shoulder.
 
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The athleticism was the result of his own mistake, Graham said

"Drew never messes up, first of all," he said after the game when asked if Brees had made an errant throw.

Joking aside, the Saints' victory over the Bears further established the fact the club's hopes when it took something of a flyer on Graham in the third round of the 2010 draft have been fulfilled. More than just a favorite target in the red zone, Graham has emerged has one of Brees' top targets overall and a receiver who can fill both a possession and big play role.
 
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"Jimmy's one of these young, talented guys who just continues to get better every day," Brees said. "We spend a lot of time together at practice, just getting on the same page. He knows he's going to get his opportunities. He's one of these really competitive young guys who wants to be a great player, so I'm excited to watch him."

He's also a player who doesn't shy away from interacting with the opposition. Following his touchdown at Green Bay in Week 1, Graham mimicked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' post-score routine of strapping on a championship belt, and Graham on Sunday shared words more than once with Chicago defenders. He also delivered a stare to the Bears' sideline after another gain ended in a tackle in front of it.

In other words, Graham plays with personality

"I love it; I love it," Brees said with a wide smile. "He's a competitor. He wants you to trust him; he wants you to have confidence in him. He might run a route, he might do something, make a mistake, whatever it might be, and he'll come to the sideline and be like, 'Drew, I'm sorry. It won't happen again. It's not going to happen again.' You just feel like he aims to please. He wants to be the best; he wants to do it just like you coached him to do it, and when he does do it right, he's pumped."

Graham said he has always been an emotional athlete, and he added former Saints tight end -- and fellow Miami Hurricane -- Jeremy Shockey encouraged him to be himself.
 
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"That's just how I am, even two years ago in basketball," he said. "If I'm not into the game then I'm not going to play well. I kind of play with my heart on my sleeve."

HOW THE GAME WAS WON

The Saints' ability to score touchdowns rather than field goals -- two red-zone trips in the second half ended in touchdowns on third-down plays -- made a huge difference.

But an even bigger factor was the defensive pressure the Saints put on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. New Orleans sacked him six times and pounded him several other times, often on complicated blitz packages the Saints hadn't shown since the first preseason game at San Francisco.

Cutler's situation didn't improve when Gabe Carimi, the Bears' first-round pick last April and the starting right tackle, went out with a knee injury in the third quarter.
 
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Safety blitzes were a big part of that, with Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins getting into the Chicago backfield and the signal caller's head. Jenkins said afterward that, as enjoyable as the performance was, he believes the frequent safety blitzes probably were a feature of the gameplan for the Bears more than a tactic the Saints will look to employ each week.

FROM THE COACH'S MOUTH

"A lot of different ways. You know, they played better than we did, they got pressure on the quarterback. I mean, you can't answer that in a couple of words. I mean, they made plays in critical situations." - Bears Coach Lovie Smith
 
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