Weird things happened on this Monday Night Football in New Orleans. No, the Saints didn’t suddenly shut down on defense, still giving up over 400 yards for the 8th straight time, the longest streak since at least 1950. But they did enough, mostly blitzing and blitzing well; enough to make Drew Brees have an OK night and still come away with the 28-13 win.
He didn’t have to. The Saints jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to Patrick Robinson returning an interception 99 yards for the touchdown, and from here on out it was the Eagles chasing and failing. The Saints played far from a perfect game. They fumbled and lost the ball twice and Brees never really had the big game he usually needs for the Saints (now 3-5) to win.
There are defining moments throughout a season. Big plays, big wins, that kind of bring you together and let you see a vision of what you can be, what you can accomplish. Here we are the midway point. It’s gone by fast. This is the type of momentum we want going into the second half of the season.
Brees finished with 21-27 for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Efficient, and for once, he had the play action going for him. The Saints ran for 140 yards, using Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas to share the load, doing an excellent job. Brees was sacked only twice. But the big news came from the defense, that has struggled creating turnovers and getting to quarterbacks all season.
Maybe it’s the Eagles, and maybe these are returning players and certain schemes and plans finally falling into place. Cameron Jordan had a huge day with three sacks and two more QB hits. Will Smith recorded two sacks. Jonathan Vilma, slowly finding his place again, had two tackles for loss of yards. They made life for Michael Vick pretty much impossible.
He was sacked, hurried or hit while throwing on 18 of his 53 dropbacks (34%). When he was able to get a pass when hurried, he was only 3-8 (37.5%), averaging only 4.3 yards per attempt and an interception. Coming into the game, the Saints had allowed the second-most yards per attempt (7.1) when putting quarterbacks under duress. Again, it might be that the Eagles are simply that bad in their quarterback protection. Maybe, the Saints finally found a way to blitz well this season, being relatively less than aggressive when compared to the Gregg Williams years, which was all about blitzing and trying to come up with the big play on D.
The most important stat at the end of the day is points. Our defense came up with some huge plays tonight. If we can hold teams to 13 points, we’re going to win a lot of games.
Drew Brees has gotten used to be playing knowing he’s going to need to put up at least 28 points in order to win, with the previous low for points allowed by the Saints defense this season, statistically one of the worst of all time, being 24 against the San Diego Chargers. It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to get to quarterbacks so easily against other teams, while their secondary is still one huge welcoming party for opposing receivers. Confidence and wins make you do funny things. Maybe even starting to play well on defense.