The New Orleans Saints have the privilege of a quarterback like Drew Brees, who doesn’t need long windup in order to feel confident and sharp as he heads into the new season, leading his team to a 23-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts, getting a far from similar performance out of Andrew Luck.
The Saints are undefeated so far in preseason, but the third game was actually the first time Brees has played in it. He needed only three series to show Sean Payton enough and hit the bench. Brees completed 9-of-15 passes for 128 yards and a couple of touchdowns, one to Austin Johnson and a few minutes later connected with Marques Colston, showing some impressive improvisational skills and quick thinking in between.
Those that came after him were far less impressive, as both Ryan Griffin and Luke McCown combined for less than 50% completion on their passes and not throwing for a single touchdown. Any team that loses its starting quarterback finds itself in very big trouble, but quite a few teams around the league have decent enough insurance policies in the form of pretty good backups. That isn’t the case with the Saints.
No rushing touchdowns were scored by Saints players as the other nine points came from the legs of Shane Graham, but Mark Ingram did go for 46 yards on eight carries, Pierre Thomas added 13 yards on three rushing attempts and McCown, the quarterback, was the most efficient of runners with 34 yards on three attempts, including one run for 28 yards. Their defense, with two interceptions, was another reason to feel happy about the outcome.
Andrew Luck did throw a touchdown pass to Coby Fleener, hoping that this is the season his tight end becomes a much more dependable receiving target instead of a dropping machine, but he also threw an interception into the hands of Kenny Vaccaro. Matt Hasselbeck threw one as well during his stint on the field, while Chandler Harnish did a good job of bringing the Colts back into the game with a touchdown pass to Josh Lenz in the fourth quarter.
Offensive playmakers? The Colts didn’t get much out of them. Reggie Wayne didn’t catch any passes, T.Y. Hilton had only one for five yards. The running game only picked up once the backups were on the field, as Daniel Herron finished with 8 carries for 68 yards. Two guys that the Colts have more vested in are Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, combining to carry the ball nine times for only 19 yards.