On this episode of “The NFL Hates New Orleans”, the referees actually surprise everyone and don’t cost New Orleans a ball game. Okay, that went better than expected, right Who Dats?!? Talk about satisfying. Pete Carroll got embarrassed before the game even started by getting sucker punched by a football. Where is that video?!?!? Deonte Harris proved that Division III kids can do big things (Deonte the Tank Engine), the defense can score without a penalty call negating it, Thomas Morestead proved, once again, that he is hands down the most bad ass punter we’ve ever seen, Sean Payton will be Coach of the Year this season, the Seahawks really were a weak 2-0, and Seattle can slip and slide all over their OWN FIELD. That’s basically the gist, and Teddy got more comfortable, Sean got smarter and adapted, and the Saints pulled out a rare win in Seattle AND in the rain. Rain in Seattle? Shocking. Get ready Who Dats, we’re gonna skinny dip in every puddle of Saints victory in Seattle while giving everyone the bird because we can! Let’s geaux!
The Seattle Seahawks started off with the ball, and they went three and out. That’s when the cameras showed Teddy, and we all got a little excited and nervous. And you know what? It didn’t matter, because Deonte Harris went off!! He ripped of a 53 yard punt return for a touchdown. It’s been 4 years since the Saints have done that, people. Four years! Over 7 game minutes had passed in the first quarter before Teddy Bridgewater took a snap. I wasn’t sure we would win the game yet at that point, but I knew we gonna give them a run for their money.
The penalties were out of control yet again, with the Saints getting 11 penalties for 70 yards, many coming early and stalling the first half offensive drives. Thank the football gods that finally smiled on us, because that WAS a fumble recovery returned for a TD by Vonn Bell, and it wasn’t called back! Also, great awareness by Eli Apple fighting all the way through the play to knock out that ball. What was different in this game was that the big penalties in the crucial moments came for the Seahawks, not us, for a change. It’s nice of the NFL to mix it up every now and then. And by the end of the game, the Seahawks had 7 penalties for 53 yards. Too many penalties all around. Did I see that right that there’s been 70 more holding penalties since this time last season? Incredible. (cue the slow clap for the NFL)
Little by little, the Saints had etched out a 20 point lead by the end of the 3rd quarter, and basically dared Seattle to come back. In the 4th quarter, Russell Wilson was a man on fire and each time that the Seahawks scored, the Saints offense played it safe and short, eating up clock each time, even scoring another touchdown with the amazing Alvin Kamara. By the end, the Saints managed to stay just enough out of reach, leading to the 33-27 score for the win, albeit the last touchdown for the Seahawks came in garbage time as the game expired.
On paper, the Saints lost on every major stat line, but if you watched it live, we won in every phase of the game, penalties aside. When a team scores touchdowns on special teams AND defense, there’s over a 90% win probability. And now, for just the third time in Saints history, we scored touchdowns in all three major phases of the game (the first two times were in 1967 and 1998 if you were curious, and yes we have won all three moments). So who cares about stat lines??
What a team win. Geaux Team Saints! Even starters that maybe had a mediocre game overall had some big step ups at crucial moments. It was amazing. Except Jared Cook. You have one more game to not be designated “Coby Fleener 2.0”. But Christ on a crutch! Teddy Bridgewater. Thomas Morestead. Michael Thomas (second half). Thomas Morestead. Alvin Kamara. Thomas Morestead. Deonte Harris (except the fumble). Thomas Morestead. Cam Jordan. Thomas Morestead. Eli Apple even and Vonn Bell! And Thomas fucking Morestead!!!!!!!!
Even with the punt return TD by Harris on the first possession, there wasn’t a feel of clear ownership of the game until Vonn Bell ran back the fumble for a TD and it held. It held!!! That’s possible!?!?!? After that, I felt good about the game. Seahawks fans were quiet and likely confused. Their game was playing out like a bad Saints game. Pete Carroll stated that they “couldn’t get out of their own way” in his post game presser. That’s for sure. He couldn’t even get out of a football’s way. Zing! Once the defense was definitely playing soft and giving Seattle every chance to do something, it was that much more comfortable to see the game unfold. Sean Payton even admitted to “hamstringing” Teddy in the first couple of series, which makes sense given the environment and weather conditions and that it was his first real start in 4 years with consequences. Bridgewater got increasingly comfortable as the game went on, and the Saints did a great job of taking the crowd out of it as aforementioned. (Side note: The Superdome isn’t designed to be loud, we’re just loud. Fuck Seattle. Design your field better.)
The penalties were ridiculous, but I can’t even fault the Saints for a lot of it, except for the lopsided offensive holding calls. If the noise is an issue, OK. We get shifting and false start calls. But the holds?? C’mon. And they didn’t call them evenly. Interestingly though, while penalties stalled our early drives, the second half penalties stalled and stopped the Seahawks more at critical moments in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Andrew Juge of the Saints Happy Hour podcast said it best that the league office probably called down to the game officials and asked them to dial it back so the fans will calm down and the conspiracy theories will die off. Ha! Do we feel “ref vendicated”, Who Dat Nation? Nope. I feel ya on that one. But let’s all bask in the warm glow of that sensational and improbable win. Trust Sean Payton. Trust Teddy Bridgewater and this team. They’re built to win, even without Brees.
Dallas looked a lot scarier on the schedule a week ago, and now they come into the Dome undefeated. But just like Seattle, who have they beaten to be undefeated so far? They beat the Giants and Dolphins at home, and they beat the Redskins on the road (who at the time of this writing, are getting spanked like naughty girls 28-3 at halftime. That score seems familiar for some reason. Huh, anyway, fuck the Falcan’ts just because). They also were up only 10-6 against the Dolphins at halftime last Sunday, before opening it up in the second half. The Saints outlasted DeShawn Watson in the Dome week 1. Who do you think is a better quarterback, Dak Prescott or DeShawn Watson? And when you look at everything I just laid out, does Dallas still look scary?
Every team is beatable on any given Sunday, but this Saints squad even without Drew Brees at home in the Super Dome on a drunken Sunday night, is well, more of a nightmare for any visiting team, than the Cowboys will be for us. It’s the Cowboys who will come in confident, and they will leave heads low on a long trip back to Dallas. All the Saints have to do is play smart football and win the turnover battle. Why am I so confident? Great question, faithful reader!
Coaching: Sean Payton can run circles around Jason Garrett, and the loss last year still stings for him. Crank up “Petty Sean” to 11.
Offensive Line: The Cowboys D murdered our decimated O line last year, and this round they meet a Saints Offensive line that is healthy and at home, coming off an all around awesome road win performance.
Game planning: One of the most fortunate things about how the Seattle game played out is that Sean didn’t really show his hand a lot. Taysom and Teddy have a lot of fun scheming still to be unleashed, and the Cowboys have no real way to plan for it. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ game planning each week is essentially, “Dak throw to Amari. Ok, now Zeke run. Now let’s surprise them by using other players like 50 year old Randall Cobb.” (He’s like our 40 year old Ted Ginn, Jr.)
Special Teams: What do the Saints have on special teams that’s better than the Cowboys? Everything. Check.
Saints’ Defense and 12th man: The M.O. for this year’s squad is starting to show itself – disrupt up front, stop the run, bend but don’t break in the backfield. Dallas’ offensive line is good and Dak is off to a hot start, but the Dome noise and penalties should kill them. This is what I mean by playing “smart football”.
My wildcard for this game is Jared Cook and Latavius Murray. Here’s their chance to have their own coming out party, so to speak. Jared needs to calm down and focus. Latavius needs to get more opportunities on less obvious run plays, make someting of it. Also, Dome Sweet Dome, a wonderful INDOOR facility. Teddy is gonna be going downfield a lot more. Look for Ted Ginn to be more involved. Maybe a Lil’Jordan down field? This game feels very similar to the Texans game. What we don’t want is to end up in an offensive shootout in the second half like week 1. This time, we don’t have Drew, and that isn’t historically one of Teddy’s strengths. Look to the Saints playing very similar to the Seattle game on Sunday offensively: start off slow and controlled in the calls, and then ramping it up as opportunities present themselves. Teddy will be a lot more comfortable, and he’ll get Thomas involved a lot earlier this time.
I originally predicted this game in the offseason to be a circled one on Payton’s calendar and a barn burner. But without Drew, I’m not sure if he can blow them out like he wants to. I do still think it’s a solid win. We’re the better team, and we’ve already had to prove ourselves several times in just three weeks of football. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have been playing a slightly more difficult schedule than Alabama has. Which by the by, LSU would absolutely crush Alabama if they met up right now. Also, when was the last time anyone can remember Tulane, LSU, AND the Saints having awesome victories in the SAME WEEKEND?!?!? Anyway, get on the liver transplant waiting lists now, Louisiana (except Shreveport. Cowgirl lovers.), this is gonna be a wild football season for Louisiana sports. Oh and…
Saints 38 – Cowboys 31
**Like my blog? Hate my blog? Got questions? Hit me up with your questions and comments on Twitter @saintsrecline or email me at email@example.com**