METAIRIE, La. ― Reggie Bush cut back to his right through a tiny sliver of light before dashing six yards into the end zone.
It was the seventh play of Saturday’s Black & Gold scrimmage at the Saints’ Airline Drive headquarters in Metairie, La.
It also was the last time the offense came close to scoring.
Yes, while much of the focus for New Orleans revolves around Drew Brees and the offense, the defense came away from the session as the big winner, holding the offense to that one score in the nearly hour and a half scrimmage.
“I think we should score every time we touch the ball and we didn’t do that today,” Brees said. “That’s frustrating. Obviously our defense is playing very well. They definitely make us better as an offense. They’re fun to compete against every day.”
Brees finished the day 6 of 16 for 110 yards and no touchdowns. More importantly, 10 of is his final 12 passes fell incomplete after starting out 4-for-4 for 64 yards on the opening drive.
Patrick Ramsey, taking snaps with both the second-team and first-team, finished 9 of 16 for 72 yards.
Meanwhile, the running game never really got off the ground, either, finishing with 82 yards on 25 carries against all three units.
The first-team offense was held to a three-and-out and a four-and-out by the first-team defense and didn’t gain a first-down until Ramsey took over and that drive ended on fourth-and-four at the 26.
“Aside from the first drive that we scored on, I thought we did a very good job defensively,” middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “We flew around pretty well. We made plays on the ball. That was the biggest thing. A lot of those things are reminiscent of what we did last year, of getting to the ball and making plays. I was excited with what I saw.”
Everything started out well enough for the offense.
Brees hit three passes in a row against the second-team defense to put the offense in second-and-three at the 44. Three more plays gave the offense a second-and-goal at the 6 and that’s when Bush danced into the end zone.
It was the very next series when things began to go down hill for the offense. After an end-around by Devery Henderson netted minus-three yards. An incompletion, a false start and a broken up pass by cornerback Reggie Jones forced the offense into a punt.
Then the second-team offense took over against the first-team defense. It didn’t get much better.
A first down was followed by the defense’s first big play of the scrimmage. Ramsey hit tight end Jimmy Graham, but fumbled after being hit by Vilma. Defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson recovered the fumble and returned it nearly to the end zone.
“We’re always surprised when someone is able to contain us,” fullback Heath Evans said. “We don’t want that. We want to be able to move the ball at will. We want to be consistent. We want to run the ball. We want to throw the ball. We want to pick up blitzes.
“Give credit where credit is due. The boys played well today. Other than that first drive down the field, we couldn’t get much going.”
But the eyebrow-raising came when the first-team offense went against the first-team defense.
Four plays netted no yards as Pierre Thomas was stuffed at the line, then three straight incompletions led to a turnover on downs. On the ensuing series, an incompletion by Brees was followed by a false start Graham. A 12-yard completion from Brees to Marques Colston broke a string of six-straight incompletions by Brees, but it didn’t get a first down.
On the final first-team series of the scrimmage, Brees connected with David Thomas for a 34-yard completion to the 11-yard line during the two-minute drill. But Brees couldn’t complete three straight passes and a bobbled snap led to a sack by cornerback Leigh Torrence.
For the day, the defense came up with six sacks, one each by Will Smith, Junior Galette, Alex Brown, Troy Evans, Wilkerson and Leigh Torrence.
“Overall, it was pretty good,” Head Coach Sean Payton said. “We didn’t have the ball on the ground. I thought defensively we did a good job, especially as that scrimmage went along.”