Boy, oh boy, Who Dats. If you weren’t drinking to start the game, I bet you were after the Saints were down 14 – 0. I’m not gonna lie, I got nervous and joined the latter after the second touchdown. It was looking like a loooooong afternoon was underway. The penalties were mounting, the offense was not communicating, the defense was getting gashed, Brees was pulling his remaining hair out…the only highlight was looking like Mike Thomas breaking a record or two.
And then we suddenly scored 24 unanswered points. Somehow everyone stepped up when they needed to. And undeterred, Tennessee kept fighting, but the Saints did just enough to maintain control of the game. That was a sloppy, incredible game, and much like watching the movie, “Apollo 13”, we all felt like the astronauts, tired and ready to go home. Hit the showers, Who Dat Nation. You earned it. Let’s geaux!!
Maybe it was the field, maybe it was just the weather, or maybe it was just playing outside for the first time in awhile…or maybe the environment had nothing to do with anything…the Saints came out whiffing at the tee ball stand. Tons of dumb penalties. Brees having fits at the miscommunications on offense. And then the defense got gashed basically on two big plays, and the score was suddenly 14 – 0.
When the Saints started to click a bit, they were able to have a good drive finally, but the drive was ultimately killed by penalties, and they had to settle for a field goal (That field goal that Lutz made was a franchise record for most field goals in a season by the by). But by then the defense had woken up. And with more continued stops, the Saints got the ball, Drew Brees did some audible trickery at the line (including kneeling at the line to give some commands. I liked that move), Brees hit Jared Cook wide open who just bullied his way to the finish line. Suddenly it’s 10-14 at the half.
You gotta love the Saints’ halftime adjustments, because they make corrections as good as anybody. Kamara woke up. The defense was collecting sacks. The O line got a little more disciplined and effective. Michael Thomas continued to be amazing. Brees had gotten everyone on point. He was spreading the ball. Others were getting looks and targets, but it was still mostly the Mike Thomas Show with special guests Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, featuring Drew Brees as “The Quarterback”.
The Saints opened the second half with the ball, and Alvin Kamara found a gaping hole between the tackles and exploded for 40 yards and a touchdown that they said was just shy. No worries. He ran it in the next play, no problem. Another Titans possession, and yet another punt. Saints ball, and they don’t waste it. Alvin Kamara was once again the final player in after he and Thomas got some yardage. Kamara ran it in for a 4 yard TD. Saints 24 – 14. This game suddenly seemed under control. Oh, and that is because it was.
The Saints had scored 24 unanswered points and wrestled control away from the Titans. Tennessee was not going down without a fight though. They drove down and scored on a pass to their WR Sharpe, their first score in their last 6 possessions. 24 – 21.
New Orleans answered right back with arguably the most impressive catch of the night, and it wasn’t Michael Thomas. Jared Cook hauled in a 16 yard strike from Brees thrown into coverage high perfectly where only Cook could reach it, and he came down with a strong grab. 31 – 21 Saints.
After trading a couple of punts, Tennessee put together a good drive resulting in another TD reception from Sharpe. Stop that guy! Once again, the Titans were nipping at our heels, 31 – 28. The Saints were fighting right back. The Titans D got stiff and it was 4th and 7 for the Saints on the Tennessee 38 yard line. The Saints went for a fake punt that was looking well executed. Taysom Hill rolled out right and threw a strike to Justin Hardee…who dropped it. I thought he dropped an easy catch, and he sort of did. He was positioning to cradle the ball, but it hit his face mask and ricocheted straight down. Se la vie. Almost a beautiful play. Turnover on downs.
Tennessee took over, and on their first pass, receiver Raymond got lit up and fumbled the ball. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson recovered and ran it back to the Tennessee 25. Brees throws the record breaking single season reception to Can’t Guard Mike, who scored on the same play. Refs said he was short. No matter again refs. Two plays later, Brees hits Thomas for an unquestionable touchdown, and the game was in the bag with the defense finishing things off. Saints win! 38 – 28.
This was a game of field possessions, and our special teams were the quiet heroes of the game. Deonte Harris was routinely running back kickoffs and returns for positive yards, often gashing huge returns. He was averaging 37.5 yards on kickoffs with a long of 47 yards. His punt returns weren’t as lofty as his kickoffs, with 5.3 average yards per return, with a long of 12. He even had what’s become his trademark “one muff per game”, which I’m ok with as long as he recovers and the rest is good.
When Harris and the blocking is going well, it makes life for the Saints sooooo much easier, because Thomas Morestead can punt like the best, and it creates sort of a “German pincer attack” of football. We’re pinning them deep and running it back into their side. When that happens, combined with our defense making stops, life gets quite easy for our offense. That is a Saints perfect storm.
What a fun, silly game. I didn’t even really mention the defense yet! After getting gashed on those two early touchdowns, the Saints got back to doing what they do best: stopping the run and sacking the quarterback. Despite injuries, an early deficit, and playing on the road, the defense finished as solid as they could have, finishing with 5 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, 4 passes deflected, and a fumble recovery.
This is the kind of game we need a few times throughout the season to “toughen up” but more so prove that we’re never out of it. We need to finish strong this Sunday, and cross our fingers for some luck.
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