The Saints played their most complete game of the season with a number of players making significant contributions. The Saints had a great receiving game by Jimmy Graham with 7 catches for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Lance Moore (the most underrated player in the NFL) with 7 catches for 91 yards; a number of those clutch receptions. Then there was Chris Ivory’s 54 yard touchdown explosion to get the Saints on the board; while looking 100% healthy. And just as importantly, primarily for the second half of the season, Mark Ingram showed up averaging 4.2 yards on 16 carries, finally justifying his Heisman Trophy skills that the Saints drafted him #1 for. And of course, Drew Brees was the typical cool-Brees , extending his NFL record games with a touchdown streak to 51 games.
On defense, this was the best overall game the Saints defensive line played so far this year. They’ve had a few brilliant moments in games up to now, but against the high scoring Falcons offense with Matt Ryan and Michael Turner it was the most complete 60-minute performance they’ve played.
Additionally the secondary played better; just enough better to win. But, that isn’t saying much. They still can’t figure out how to shutdown teams and close out teams when they have a lead. So, the Falcons mounted a 4th quarter comeback and almost stole the game.
Most significant on defense was the arrival of rookie CB Corey White as a presence in pass coverage and making several nice tackles at the line.
The Saints offense sustained drives more consistently this week, not getting themselves in too many 3rd and long situations. They also converted a number of those critical 3rd downs during a scoring drive.
If the Saints can continue to play at the level they did against the “formally undefeated” Atlanta Falcons, the second half of the season should be a lot more pleasurable for Saints fans.
This was a game I was most excited to watch this weekend. With the two most prolific offenses in the NFL playing, I knew it was going to be a great game with a lot of points and back-and-forth scoring. And with the Saints winning, I wasn’t disappointed at all!
by Marc Gonick
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