What a finish! After the big win against San Diego two weeks ago, I was excited to see how the Saints would come out for their next game and what they'd do for an encore. I wrote last week that the season was far from lost, and offered my suggestions as to what the team needed to focus on. Let's take a look at what they did in those areas.
Definite mixed bag from the defense this week. They started off by not showing up until part way through the second quarter, allowing touchdowns on the Bucs' first three drives. After that though, they tightened up and did not allow another point until late in the fourth quarter, at which point they nearly blew a 14-point lead in the last five minutes.
The biggest play of the day, however, undoubtedly goes to Malcolm Jenkins, who chased down Vincent Jackson on what looked like it would be a breakaway 96-yard touchdown, and turned it into a 95-yard pass to the 1. Four stuffed running plays later, and any momentum the Bucs had after Jackson's big play was lost.
Also, an excellent heads-up play by Patrick Robinson at the end of the game, shoving Mike Williams out of bounds and IMMEDIATELY pointing it out to the referees as soon as Williams caught the ball. And yes, the shove was legal. You're only allowed to re-establish yourself and be the first to touch the ball if you were out of bounds as the result of a foul. Since Freeman was scrambling out of the pocket, illegal contact does not apply, and since the ball was not in the air, it could not be pass interference. Robinson may not be the best cover man around, but he made a brilliant play to seal the victory.
Overall, the defense played fairly well (probably their best overall performance of the season), but there's still room for improvement. And if they want to run off the kind of winning streak they'll need to make the postseason, that improvement will have to come.
To his credit, Mark Ingram came up big in one spot, plunging forward on 3rd-and-1 to pick up a first down late in the fourth quarter as the Saints were trying to burn clock.
That said, here are his yardage totals for each of his carries today: 3, 1, 0, 1, 10, 3, 3. Seven carries for 21 yards, a 3.0 average. And only eclipsing three yards one time. Not Ingram's worst day, but still not what you want out of a first round pick getting the second-most carries on the team. Also, just a friendly reminder that Chris Ivory was inactive once again and still does not have a carry this season.
For his part, Drew Brees also played perhaps his best game of the season. He had over 300 yards and 3 TD's (what would be a career day for many QB's) in the first half. More importantly, he avoided making any of the uncharacteristically dumb throws that have haunted him throughout the season thus far. He threw one interception early, but it was on a pass tipped at the line.
Play of the Year: Joe Morgan
When Brees hit Morgan, I initially called it a "play of the day candidate." I should retract that. This is the play of the year, and I'm ready to close the contest now. I have never seen a player do a more impressive job of keeping his balance through multiple tackle attempts on the way to a score. Morgan first makes an awesome spin move to avoid the first tackle, almost twists himself into the ground, gets a hand down just before his knee hits the ground, and as the second tackler bears down him, executes a perfect back body drop that would make any pro wrestler proud. You know what? My words don't do it justice. See for yourself:
Two wins now in the books, they still have two more to go just to get back to .500. Next Sunday they travel to Denver. They'll have Joe Vitt back as head coach, allowing Aaron Kromer (who did an admirable job filling in, record notwithstanding) to return to his duties coaching the offensive line, where improvement can also certainly be made.
Things are finally starting to click. There's a long way to go, but we're on our way. Bring on the Broncos.Back to the New Orleans Saints Newsfeed