Everything not all rosey for Saints despite win
By By Richard Dark / EMG sports writer
Sept. 17, 2002
NEW ORLEANS Even though the New Orleans Saints improved to 2-0 in front of 67,958 fans with an authoritative 35-20 win over a quality opponent in the Green Bay Packers, things weren't all roses coming out of Sunday's game.
The Saints, who did pretty well avoiding the injury bug since training camp began in July, were finally bitten hard.
Most notably, Philadelphia native Fred McAfee injured his hamstring on a late-game special teams return. Cornerback Keyuo Craver also tore his medial collateral ligament slightly, according to Saints coach Jim Haslett.
Starting defensive end Darren Howard suffered a separated shoulder in the first half and did not return. It is a continuance of the woes he has had with the shoulder since camp. If Howard does miss a significant amount of time, it could open up a spot on the Sunday 45-man roster for former Meridian High Wildcat Kenny Smith.
As expected, Smith was deactivated Sunday, when Haslett had to trim the roster from 53 to 45 per league rules.
Others besides Smith on Sunday's inactive list for the Saints included cornerback Fred Thomas, running back Curtis Keaton, fullback Moran Norris, linebacker Bryan Cox, tackle Victor Riley and defensive end Derrius Monroe. J.T. O'Sullivan was the teams third quarterback.
Did You Notice?
Just before the half, an indoor blimp that advertises a familiar New Orleans business, inexplicably lost power and began to fall to the Superdome turf while both teams were between plays.
However, a crew of six to eight game officials was able to get the blimp carted off without incident.
Favre odds and ends
With 4:45 to go in the opening period, Packers' quarterback Brett Favre tried to thread the needle to former Jones Junior College standout Jevon Walker. Instead, the pass was intercepted by Darrin Smith and returned 17 yards to the New Orleans 48. The pick was the first the legendary quarterback has ever thrown in the Superdome It also marked 158 straight passing attempts without an interception. Favre found former Alcorn State gridiron and track hero Donald Driver for a highlight reel 26-yard touchdown connection with just 31 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The passing score was No. 291 in Favre's career, good for fourth place with Warren Moon on the NFL all-time list. Earlier in the day, he surpassed the late Johnny Unitas, whose memory was honored with a moment of silence before the game.
Mums the word
Walker, who played an extensive role in all 12 games during his freshman year at Jones, was instrumental in helping the Bobcats finish 12-0 to capture the 1998 JUCO national crown, before achieving All-American status his sophomore season.
But Sunday, the rookie wideout was shut down; his only catch being the Packers' longest gain of the day at 27 yards. Neither he, nor Driver, who tallied four grabs for 51 yards, elected to speak to the media afterward.
Saints safety Sammy Knight gets the award for laying the lumber to Walker. With the Packers facing third and two from the New Orleans 9, Walker looked to have a sure TD grab up the middle, but at the last second, Knight came through and lowered the punishing boom at the goalline, causing Walker to drop the football. Green Bay then settled for a field goal for its first score of the day.
The Saints (2-0) head to Chicago to face the Bears, who squeaked by the NFC South division rival Atlanta Falcons, 14-13.
Favre fans take heart: the Packers travel to face the Detroit Lions, who were trounced by Carolina 31-7.