New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees attempted 41 passes on Sunday, connecting with 33 completions for 255 yards passing and a touchdown. Save for the pedestrian 6.2 yard/pass average, one would think that these numbers defined a victory for New Orleans.
In fact, Brees only attempted seven passes beyond 15 yards. Per Dan Swenson of the Times-Picayune:
It appeared that most of Cincinnati's philosophy dictated keeping everything in front of them. For instance, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur allowed eight completions but for only 34 yards and a 4.3 yard/pass average. Leon Hall, who struggled early with two completions during New Orleans' opening possession, allowed 19 yards to receivers that he covered (NOTE: The Bengals were cautious with Hall, who felt his Achilles tighten up). Rey Maualuga, historically a mediocre (at best) cover linebacker, allowed two completions for 11 yards.
"We didn't give up any deep balls," said cornerback Adam Jones. "That’s the key to our defense. When you look at how we try to control things on defense we make sure we try to check the ball down. And I think we did a great job of doing that today. And our guys up front did a great job of applying pressure on Drew (Brees) and collapsing the pocket."
Cincinnati's defense generated 15 pressures on Brees, forcing the future Hall-of-Famer into throwing inaccurate passes, targeting wide-open receivers. And of those 15 pressures, seven came from defensive end Carlos Dunlap.