In a game that never really seemed in doubt, Drew Brees and rest of the Saints’ offense repeatedly victimized the hapless Giants defense en route to seven touchdowns and a lopsided 25 point victory. The Saints held New York without a touchdown for the first 34 1/2 minutes of regulation, and never saw their lead fall below double digits once Jummy Graham scored with two minutes remaining in the first quarter, making the score 14-3. New Orleans was clearly dominant in this game, as the Saints made their case to be labeled as the NFL’s best team outside of Green Bay. Now sitting just one game back of San Francisco (though the 49ers will have the tie-breaker with one of their losses coming against an AFC opponent), New Orleans can begin to set their sights on both a division title as well as a possible first round playoff bye. Notes on a very enjoyable game to watch after the jump.
Just as many people expected, the most recent episode in the Saints/Falcons series was a battle right down to the very last play. With 7:13 remaining in the 4th quarter, John Kasay converted a 44 yard field goal to put New Orleans up by 2 scores with a 23-13 lead, giving them what seemed to be a comfortable two score lead. However, Ryan brought Atlanta back after a touchdown strike to Tony Gonzalez 3 minutes later, and then set up kicker Matt Bryant with the game-tying field goal as time expired. The Falcons would receive the ball first in overtime (as the Saints fell to 0 for 11 in coin tosses this season, a particularly unbelievable stat), but both teams would end up punting before the Falcons faced a critical 4th and inches from its own 29 1/2 yard line. Falcons head coach Mike Smith initially sent his punt team out, but after calling a timeout, he decided to put his offense back out on the field and go for it. The Saints’ run defense stepped up in a huge spot, stuffing Michael Turner and therefore getting the ball in immediate field goal range. Four plays later, Kasay delivered the game-winning 26 yard field goal, moving the Saints to 7-3 and into a comfortable 1 1/2 game lead in the NFC South entering their bye week. Here are my other thoughts from New Orleans’ crucial road victory in Atlanta.
In a solid all-around performance, the New Orleans Saints capped off a very successful weekend of football for the state with a 27-16 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Louisiana Superdome. Though the game was far from a blowout, it was never really in doubt, as the Saints led by more than one score from midway through the second quarter all the way until about 5 minutes to go in the 4th. Even when the Bucs were able to cut their deficit to 8, Brees promptly marched the team back down the field and allowed kicker John Kasay to convert an easy 34 yard field goal with 1:17 remaining, effectively icing the game. Let’s take a look at this game by the numbers and see in which areas the Saints were able to have the most success.
Just one week removed from the most lopsided victory in franchise history, the Saints could not have looked like a more different team in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon. New Orleans was outplayed in every phase of the game from start to finish, and didn’t even remotely resemble a playoff-caliber team. As a result, the Saints fell behind 24-0 to the previously-winless Rams, eventually losing 31-21. There is literally nothing positive to discuss in regards to this game, so let’s take a look at where the Saints failed and will need to improve for next weekend’s monumentally important home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In what quickly became a pleasant, stress-free end to the weekend, the Saints absolutely demolished the visiting Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night. As I noted on Twitter last night, I started to feel like I was watching the Saints dismantle my alma mater’s football team (Tulane), not an actual NFL squad. There are so many ridiculous stats that represent how good the Saints were in this game that I can’t possibly hit on all of them, but I listed my favorites after the jump.
Looking back on this game as soon as it ended, the first thing that came to my mind (besides numerous profanities which shouldn’t be repeated) was – “how did we only lose by 6?” The Saints made so many mistakes on both sides of the football that it is honestly a miracle that they were only down by one score in the game’s final minutes. The four turnovers stand out, but there were just as many defensive lapses which makes it impossible to blame this loss on any one area. The following are the three key areas where the Saints failed in Tampa yesterday afternoon (and have really been problematic all season long), and the team will need to fix all three if it wants to keep being considered as a legitimate Superbowl contender.
After falling behind in the 4th quarter for the second time in the past three weeks, Drew Brees led another comeback win for the Saints on Sunday afternoon in North Carolina. New Orleans first gained the lead just 1:10 into the first quarter and would maintain it up until about 12:30 remained in the 4th quarter, when rookie Panthers QB Cam Newton threw a 5 yard strike to tight end Greg Olsen. Carolina held on to its 27-23 lead until the final minute of the game, when Brees threw a 6 yard TD pass to Pierre Thomas, giving the Saints a three point lead and ultimately the 30-27 victory. A three point win over the last place Panthers might not look terribly impressive, but winning on the road in the NFL is never easy (especially within your own division), and this is a vastly improved Carolina team from just one season ago. In the team’s four losses thus far, the Panthers have lost by an average of just 5.5 points, and none of those losses have come by more than one score. The Saints obviously played far from a perfect game, but this was a hard-fought victory, and the team should be proud of the win and improving its record to a division leading 4-1.
If you asked me to describe this Saints vs. Jaguars game from New Orleans’ perspective in one word, this is what it would be - enough. As in, the Saints did just enough to win fairly comfortably against a noticeably inferior opponent on Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville, Florida. Looking impressive on their first two drives, Brees and company jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead early on in the second quarter, finally getting on top of their opponent early. After that, however, the team was far from impressive, seemingly coasting to victory instead of going for the throat and putting the Jags out of their misery (for an example of how this is done, go watch the highlights of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in yesterday’s dismantling of the Denver Broncos). In a nutshell, though the Saints got what matters most (the W), they finished the game in far from dominating fashion, and they’re going to need to play better next weekend to beat who I believe is the best sub-.500 team in football – the Carolina Panthers. Game notes after the jump.
I was fortunate enough to attend my first game of this season yesterday, and it certainly did not disappoint. Though trailing by two scores early in the game’s final quarter, the Saints were able to put up an impressive 23 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes, leading to a very satisfying come-from-behind victory. It was far from a perfect showing; in fact, it can be argued that New Orleans was considerably out-played by Houston between the 20s. However, the boys in Black and Gold got some pivotal red zone holds all throughout the game, repeatedly limiting the Texans to field goals instead of touchdowns. Those stops ended up paying off in the form of a seven point victory, and the Saints can feel good about embarking on a 3-game road trip as owners of a 2-1 record and a tie for first place with Tampa Bay in the NFC South. My thoughts on the game after the jump.
Jay Cutler’s Bears may have lost this game, but if the Bears’ QB was even able to get himself out of bed this morning, I think he can consider himself a winner; thank goodness for small miracles, huh? Cutler found himself sitting or lying on the Superdome turf just about as often as he was standing on it, which is obviously not a recipe for success in the NFL. As a result, the Bears saw a what was a tight 3-point third quarter defecit get completely out of hand, controlling the ball for only about 10 of the 30 minutes in the second half. The end result was New Orleans’ first win of the season in its home opener in convincing fashion, finally giving many Saints fans a long-awaited feeling of payback to Chicago. After the jump, you’ll find our HoopDat game grades by position.