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THE NFL / 1996

It's a Giant Step Back for Reeves as Saints Win

December 16, 1996|From Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New Orleans Saints did two things for New York's teams in ending the NFL's longest current losing streak.

Not only did the Saints (3-12) give Giant management another reason to get rid of Dan Reeves in defeating New York, 17-3, on Sunday, the victory also assured the Jets (1-14) of getting the top pick in the NFL draft.

Mario Bates and Lorenzo Neal ran for touchdowns and the Saints defense limited New York to 138 yards--only 36 in the second half. It also forced four turnovers and sacked Dave Brown and rookie Danny Kanell seven times in ending a seven-game losing streak.

"This was nice," said Saint quarterback Jim Everett, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 106 yards and one interception. "It was a pure pleasure to watch our defense go out there and absolutely dominate someone. What a feeling to get a win."

The victory was Rick Venturi's first in seven games since taking over as interim coach after Jim Mora resigned, and only his second in 18 games as an NFL coach.

"This is really important for everybody in this room," said Venturi, whose future is as uncertain as Reeves'. "I think these guys have hung together, they've battled and come to play every week. And man, that's tough without success. At the pro level that is incredibly tough. I'm so proud of them."

Reeves didn't feel the same way about his team after the Giants (6-9) once again followed a big victory (at Miami) with a bad performance.

"We were really, really bad, and they took advantage of it and made the plays you have to make to win the game,' Reeves said. "This is about as low as you can get, losing a game like this and playing as poorly as you did. It hurts."

The Saints came into the game as the league's worst rushing team, but Bates gained 129 yards in 32 carries in becoming only their second back to rush for 100 or more yards in a game this season. Offensively, New York was limited to 48 net yards passing.

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