|Saints, Chargers hoping for better show in London|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 23 October 2008 12:45|
For this year's encore, the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints plan to treat the British audience to something a lot more memorable.
``You have two of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, playing in this game,'' Saints coach Sean Payton said ahead of Sunday's matchup at Wembley Stadium, the second regular-season NFL game played outside North America. ``Both teams, I think, have a lot of players that are exciting and would be entertaining to watch.''
It will not be hard to exceed the entertainment value of last year's event, when the New York Giants slogged their way to a 13-10 win over the Miami Dolphins in an ugly game best remembered for the persistent rain that turned the Wembley field into a soggy, torn-up patch of goo.
of that game,'' Payton said.
But there are plenty of reasons for British fans to expect more this time.
New Orleans features the NFL's top-ranked passing offense, while San Diego has the worst pass defense, meaning the Saints - who are without injured running back Reggie Bush - are likely to pursue an all-out air attack.
Then there are the quarterbacks. San Diego's Philip Rivers enters the game with the NFL's highest rating of 108.5, while the Saints' Drew Brees has a score to settle with his old team, which he left in 2006 after a shoulder injury.
Add the fact both teams are 3-4 and desperate to enter their bye week at .500, Wembley could be in for a high-scoring game.
Still, Chargers coach Norv Turner was focusing on the Saints' defense.
``They're very, very impressive with the front seven,'' Turner said. ``Their safeties are outstanding tacklers. I don't know that there is a better pair of ends in the league. The defensive ends play high-tempo and play awfully well. They play the run extremely well and obviously they can rush the passer.''
The passer in question is Brees' former backup.
relationship. (We) competitively pushed one another.''
Another former teammate is hoping to push Brees - to the ground.
Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips, who also played with Brees at Purdue, is hoping to finally get his hands on his longtime friend in a game.
``I would never disrespect Drew, but my job is to hit him as much as possible and as hard as possible,'' Phillips said.
Brees, however, is hoping to have the added support of the Wembley crowd. New Orleans is listed as the home team and the quarterback has been handing out instructions through the British media for how fans should behave at the game.
``Wear black and gold,'' Brees said. ``Cheer really loud when our defense is out there. And when our offense is out there, keep it quiet out there so they can hear.''
Both teams have been struggling with jet lag this week, but have had time to adjust after arriving in London on Monday. Last year, the teams didn't fly to Britain until the Thursday before the game.
``We've made good progress in terms of those things and now we've really gotten into our normal routine,'' Turner said. ``I believe once we get going on Sunday and play the game, they'll all feel it's worth it and I do believe it's exciting from the standpoint of letting people around the world see our game.''
eat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The forecast for this Sunday also calls for potential light rain, meaning the teams are bracing for the possibility of another romp in the mud.
``We'll expect anything,'' Brees said. ``We will expect the same weather they had last year, cold and rainy. We just understand that's the way it is. You put a little more emphasis on ball security and that sort of thing. For the most part, we're going to do what we're going to do.''
AP Sports Writer Chris Lehourites contributed to this story.