Oct 23, 201808:05 AM
Full Sport Press
'The games we play in New Orleans and beyond'
Saints win fifth straight
Raven's kicker Justin Tucker
See any funny memes of the Baltimore Ravens Justin Tucker lately?
On a Sunday that felt weird from the get-go, the Ravens kicker ended the game in the weirdest way possible, missing his first NFL extra point attempt in…ever. But we’re not complaining. After New Orleans 24-23 victory over Baltimore, the New Orleans Saints (5-1) are starting to pile up victories and if one comes gift-wrapped then far be it for New Orleans to want to play overtime.
The game just had that weird feel to it all day. The Ravens (4-3) have an absolutely superb defense that tortured the Tennessee Titans with 11 sacks the week previous. The Ravens were also entering the game having only given up 77 points in six games. The Saints were entering the game without two crucial linemen in the rotation. Then, of course, as everyone has noted the Ravens were the only team that Saint Drew Brees had not defeated in his illustrious career. To say the least, it had all the trappings of an ugly affair.
The game even started weird. The Saints marched into the game with a 20-play drive that would see the Saints go for it four times on fourth down. Say that four times fast.
Anyway, the opening drive would eat up 10 minutes of the first quarter and, in a way, set the tone for the game in that the Saints seemed to be the better team but the Ravens defense just wouldn’t go away. As a matter of fact, the Ravens defense not only shut down that first epic drive with a fumble recovery but would go on to hold the Saints to one touchdown through three quarters. That touchdown was yet another milestone for Brees as he joined the very exclusive 500 Touchdown club with a short pass to Ben Watson with two minutes to go in the first half.
The Saints trailed 10-7 coming out of the locker room for the second half and had to feel good about their chances. The Saints defense, if not getting to the quarterback was still playing well enough to keep them in it and New Orleans was just waiting for Brees to go all Brees, right?
Then the dread set in. The Saints first drive of the second half was a six-play drive that sputtered only 16 yards. Now it was the Ravens who were chewing up the clock and after Joe Flacco hit tight end Mark Andrews for an 8-yard touchdown to push the Ravens lead to 10 points with three minutes to go in the third quarter, it felt like a workmanlike victory might be in the cards for Baltimore.
Then the Saints got groovin’.
The Saints took the ensuing kickoff and put together a 12-play, 75-yard gem of a drive. All of the Saints’ heroes played a part — Alvin Kamara had a few critical runs, Michael Thomas brought in some catches. However, it was the new guy that came up big when the Saints needed it.
If you haven’t done so yet, say hello to Tre’Quan Smith who is developing into a solid number two receiver behind Thomas. The rookie looked like a veteran getting his toes down and making a perfect 26-yard catch on the sideline. In a sign of how much this team believes in the kid, Brees would go right back to Smith on the next play for an 11-yard catch over the middle. Kamara shot into the end zone but the Saints still trailed 17-14.
As if feeding off the energy created by the offense, the defense finally started to get closer and closer to Flacco before Alex Okafor broke through for a sack and it was three-and-out for the Ravens just as Brees was warming up.
Brees picked the secondary apart with short passes and Kamara sliced and diced through seemingly non-existent holes. You have to give props to Max Unger and crew for the performance they put in. The Saints were missing Andrus Peat and Jermon Bushrod but held off the Ravens attack, only giving up one sack and keeping Brees upright for the most part.
Brees would connect with Thomas for his 501st touchdown pass and the Saints would add a field goal on their next drive to take a 24-17 lead. Game over, right?
Nah, it’s the Saints, y’all. What fun would it be if we didn’t have to sweat it out to the last second?
So, the Saints defensive backfield, which had played well throughout the game, especially considering the lack of pass rush in the first half, all of a sudden kept getting confused and guys in violet and black kept getting wide open. In the blink of eye, the game was about to be tied up and sent into overtime.
That’s when, Justin Tucker, a kicker who had made his previous 222-of-222 extra point attempts and is the NFL’s most accurate kicker of all time, entered Ravens lore forevermore.
Unfortunately for Tucker, the story won’t be a dream but an Edgar Allan Poe nightmare.
All in all, it was a massive 24-23 victory for the Saints as their schedule keeps getting tougher and tougher. Next week they will travel to play the Minnesota Vikings (4-2-1) and then, the following week, will host the L.A. Rams (7-0) for what could be a preview of the NFC Championship.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Long Live Wayward Owl Brewing!
Playlist Recommendation: Bobby Pickett – “Monster Mash”
Around The Way
Thanksgiving is getting ever so close and, unfortunately for local football fans, you can just about put a fork in the Tulane Green Wave’s bowl dreams after their offense collapsed in the fourth quarter falling 27-23 to the SMU Mustangs.
The Green Wave held a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter but the offense disappeared and the Mustangs connected on a 67-yard touchdown to take the lead. Tulane quarterback Jonathan Banks fumbled on the next drive to erase any hopes of a comeback.
Tulane falls to 2-5 on the season and have major questions on offense, the first being can Coach Fritz’s staff create an effective passing attack. Tulane travels to Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 27.