Graham stands out in Saints' 31-24 win over Titans
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Jimmy Graham didn't hesitate an instant to punctuate a pair of touchdown catches with the goal post-rattling, basketball-style dunks that led the NFL to ban such celebrations coming into this season.
Both times, Graham drew penalty flags for unsportsmanlike conduct. With relatively little at stake in preseason game No. 2 on Friday night, the crowd roared its approval.
Saints coach Sean Payton, however, didn't look so amused after the second one, barking at Graham on the sideline.
After holding out the entire offseason for his four-year, $40 million contract, Graham appeared to be in fine form on Friday night with touchdown receptions of 6 and 19 yards from Luke McCown in the Saints' 31-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
Yet Payton, who constantly preaches the importance of taking preseason games seriously and minimizing mental mistakes, appeared to lose patience with Graham's insistence upon continuing his post-TD dunks.
Last year, one such dunk bent a goal post out of place, delaying a regular-season game. And after Graham's second dunk on Friday night, the goal post was still visibly shimmering as Derek Dimke's PAT kick sailed through.
The penalties after both celebrations were enforced on the kickoff, resulting in returns to the Tennessee 38 and 36 by the Titans' Marc Mariani. Tennessee scored touchdowns on both drives.
Payton's apparent frustration could have been provoked not just by Graham, but the fact that his unnecessary personal fouls only added to a pile of penalties. The Saints were flagged 22 times for 184 yards.
Yet, while Payton wasn't pleased with that statistic, he also had plenty about which to be pleased on both sides of the ball.
The Saints' defense had five turnovers and four sacks. Offensively, New Orleans produced several long gains, including completions of 52 and 44 yards from Ryan Griffin to Joe Morgan, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
The Titans were competitive early when both teams' starters were on the field.
Starting quarterback Jake Locker was 8 of 10 for 75 yards and a touchdown on a 4-yard touch pass along the sideline to Justin Hunter, who made a leaping grab over cornerback Corey White.
Hunter was also on the receiving end of Zach Mettenberger's first touchdown pass as a pro. Mettenberger entered the game earlier than expected after second-string QB Charlie Whitehurst was shaken up on a sack by Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro.
The crowd cheered the former LSU quarterback when he first took the field. Soon after, Mettenberger rifled a pass over the middle to Hunter, who raced away from all pursuers for a 64-yard score.
Mettenberger finished 20 of 25 for 269 yards, but was also intercepted once and fumbled once. Hunter had four catches for 111 yards.
Undrafted rookie kicker Travis Coons made a 50-yard field goal for Tennessee.
Once of Tennessee's fumbles may have cost more than a turnover. Running back Shonn Greene, who has had right knee surgery twice, appeared to favor his right leg after being stripped by Vaccaro in the second quarter.
McCown started for Brees, who missed his second game while resting his sore abdomen, and was 12 of 20 for 117 yards. Griffin finished 13 of 19 for 179 yards with touchdown passes of 23 yards to Mark Ingram and 3 yards to Seantavious Jones.
Whoever first said "March Madness" sure nailed it. The 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has been shear madness, and this past weekend's Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games had a little bit of everything in them. Now the Final...
In the sports media world, we (reporters/host/anchors/journalist/analysts) are taught not to get too close to athletes, coaches and members of the organizations that we cover. However it's human nature to like those folks that are kind, nice...
#1 ranked LSU will go for their third straight SEC series win this weekend when the Tigers entertain the Kentucky Wildcats. “When you look at Kentucky not many people know how good they are. Kentucky has built a solid program and we are...
It was just two short weeks ago that our New Orleans Pelicans were in 8th place in the Western Conference standings, in playoff position. Now I certainly did not put the cart before the horse, so to speak, but I'd be lying to you all if I did not...
Coach Johnny Jones will be the first to tell you; it’s much easier to coach when your team consistently has the lead in a game. Well, the Tigers maintained a double digit lead for most of the night until the final eight minutes of the game....
Nearly every team in the NFL was represented today in Baton Rouge at LSU pro day, and much of the attention was paid to offensive lineman La'el Collins and cornerback Jalen Collins. La'el returned to LSU for his senior season and looks...
Sources tell me that free agent OLB/DE Anothony Spencer is in New Orleans visiting with Saints brass this week. â
#Saints hosting Free Agent OLB/ DE Anthony Spencer on visit, per source.
— Kristian Garic (@KristianGaric1) March 24, 2015
Despite speculative reports that the Saints might be in all-out re-shaping mode, and that everything and every player might be on the trading block, general manager Mickey Loomis says that’s not really the case. “We’ve never put a...
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Saints say they are not looking to trade quarterback Drew Brees.
General Manager Mickey Loomis told the USA today, "Anyone that thinks we're trading Drew Brees, that is just not true."
It has also...
We've all been in this position before; I know I have said or written something I've regretted. Saints defensive back Keenan Lewis also regrets his Instagram rant of a week ago and is happy to have a new deal with the Black and Gold....