The Austin Chronicle

Soup Is Good Food

By Robert Gabriel, October 16, 2006, 12:21am, The Score

Somewhere behind perfectly manicured hedges, Donovan McNabb’s patronizing mama comforts her sobbing son with a warm bowl of Campbell’s Chunky Soup. The bruises on McNabb’s hip from Charles Grant's helmet make every swallow a wince-filled reminder of the New Orleans Saints’ 27-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon. Former Westlake Chaparral Drew Brees filled McNabb’s temporarily-vacated hero role by tossing three critical touchdowns and meticulously leading his team on an eight-and-a-half minute drive that clipped the wings of the visiting Eagles with a game-winning field goal. As the Superdome crowd enjoyed its team’s third straight home victory, football pundits nationwide could be heard in mass literally thrusting themselves upon the Saints bandwagon with the urgency of a ravenous carpetbagging herd.

The Saints' defense, despite losing promising rookie safety Roman Harper for the season last week against Carolina, stood up to a challenge that few thought they could muster. At certain times, outside linebackers Scott Fujita and Shane Shanle actually looked like the real deal. Good thing too, because the way that middle linebacker Mike Simoneau was seemingly making it a point to jump out of Brian Westbrook's path, it made me wonder if he was ever truly taken off of the Eagles’ payroll. While cornerbacks Mike McKenzie and Fred Thomas could typically make a stone wall nervous with their erratic play, the duo’s efforts were just enough to contain the Eagles’ prolific passing attack.

As the norm for Saints' fans, thank heavens for Deuce McAllister. With so much attention being paid to fellow running back Reggie Bush, No. 26 overcame a tightened hamstring to the tune of almost 6 yards per carry and several key first downs. Veteran receiver Joe Horn certainly picked a righteous time to break out of his 17-game scoring slump, tying Eric Martin's club record with his second touchdown of the game. I’m not sure what was going through left tackle Jammal Brown's thick Sooner skull when he recorded a second holding penalty on identical sweeps by Bush, but it was nice to see head coach Sean Payton intently get all up in Brown’s chili for it on the sideline.

Now 5-1 and sitting a game ahead of the Panthers atop the NFC South division, the Saints are suddenly going to have teams gunning for them. After a well-deserved bye week, the Baltimore Ravens are next on the Saints’ menu. Whether this newfound focus and intensity can be maintained over the course of a full 16-game season, only God knows. But damned if it hasn’t to this point been an incredible ride.

Of course the Texas Longhorns outlasted the Baylor Bears in what everyone expected to be a cakewalk. But what the hell were the Horns doing going into the second quarter of that game facing a 10-0 deficit? That’s no way for a national title contender to start a game, especially at home against a cream puff, and had Baylor been a better team, it could have cost the Horns a whole world of embarrassment. Fortunately quarterback Colt McCoy overcompensated for a few early suspect throws with a team-record half-dozen touchdown passes. Between Limas Sweed, Billy Pittman and an emerging Jermichael Finley, the Horns have no shortage of prime receiving targets. How many points can the Horns ring up next week against the Nebraska Cornhuskers? In what may prove as the Horn’s toughest test for the remainder of the season, let’s just hope that Texas will be prepared to whip ass both early and often up in Lincoln.

In high school action, the McCallum Knights pummeled the LBJ Jaguars 52-0 in what was previously thought to be an even matchup. McCallum running back Marcus Mann rang up another four touchdowns among his 170 yards gained on the ground. In other District 17-4A action, Reagan Raiders running back William Green piled up 185 yards and three touchdowns on a mere seven carries against the Manor Mustangs. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Green’s astounding jaunts still weren’t enough for Reagan to survive three second-half fumbles as Manor snuck out of Nelson Field with a 37-32 win.

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