Well that was something.
The New Orleans Saints (12-2) beat the Carolina Panthers (6-8) 12-9 in a defensive slugfest or possibly offensive mess. I’m going to let you be the judge.
Great seasons are rarely easy and new trends develop during football campaigns but I have to say that I didn’t see the “Saints win with defense” trend coming our way. Thankfully, that’s the case and, in a way, something that should excite the Black and Gold fan base but it would be nice to have that in combination with an offense that has a pulse.
Just a few weeks ago it seemed like the NFC contenders consisted of the Saints and L.A. Rams and everyone else was in the rearview. Now, with those two teams’ offenses evidently going on vacation the field has expanded with the Chicago Bears looming large and the not-dead-yet Seattle Seahawks still in the picture.
Thankfully, the Saints just need one more victory to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs and, as everyone knows, Drew Brees and Sean Payton haven’t lost a playoff game in the Super Dome. Yet, at this point, Saints fans should be even more thankful for the defensive effort by the Saints.
The Saints defense has now posted six games in a row of holding teams to 17 points or less. An even tastier stat is that, during that span, they’re averaging giving up just over 12 points a game and, for the year, have moved into the top 10 in points given up. Defenses win championships, right?
They won this game at least with the league’s leading rush defense keeping Christian McCaffrey under control and sacking Cam Newton four times. They put even more hits on Newton and were in his face seemingly for every pass attempt of the first half. Also, props to Eli Apple who ate up the route on a touchdown-saving interception and Vonn Bell who made a game changing forced fumble in the second half. It was a wild night in Charlotte. Not pretty at all but, in the end, all wins look like great wins at the end of the year.
The Saints host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 3:25 p.m. on Dec. 23 at the Super Dome.
Green Wave Rolls Louisiana
Tulane football is crazy. Honestly, if the essence of this team was embodied in one person it could be The Joker. It’s pure loony bin madness but, boy oh boy, it turned out to be a fun ride.
The Tulane Green Wave (7-6) ended Coach Fritz’s third season on a very high note, defeating the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 41-24 in the Cure Bowl. The Green Wave offense exploded out of the gate, going up 21-7 in the first quarter and looked like they were planning on sending the boys from Lafayette home with a truly embarrassing loss. Which, in retrospect, was a ridiculous thought because the Green Wave are all about drama. Thus, Louisiana (obviously) came roaring back to only trail 27-24 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
That’s when Tulane woke back up and realized they had a game on their hands and the Patrick Johnson-led defense stymied the Ragin’ Cajun offense the rest of the way. Louisiana would have no answer for junior running back Darius Bradwell and quarterback Justin McMillan as Tulane crushed the Cajuns’ bowl dreams.
Congratulations to Bradwell who became just the eighth running back in program history to go over 1,000 yards in a season. Bradwell finished the season with 1,134 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
You know you’re getting to the end of the NFL season when they stop playing Thursday night games and start playing games on Saturday. With the conclusion of Thursday Night Football, hopefully everyone is giving a shout out to and praising the work of Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer, who this year became the first all-female team to broadcast an NFL game.
Sure, it wasn’t on Fox or CBS, and you had to find their special feed on Amazon Prime but, hey, trail blazers don’t make excuses, they just execute. This is a big deal. One of those events that folks will look back on and say, “That’s who did it. That’s who started it all for us.”
Nothing screams “same old, same old” like football broadcasts. Honestly, if you’ve watched even a handful of games you can basically mute the volume and call the game yourself and say exactly what the “pros” are saying half of the time. So, to say that the new perspective that Storm and Kremer brought to games was refreshing would be an understatement. Kudos to Amazon and everyone involved. Now let’s get these women, and others, in more booths and in front of bigger audiences.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: NOLA Brewing’s “Green Wave” Kristalweizen
Playlist Recommendation: “Tulane Fight Song” – Tulane University Marching Band
Around the Way
Sure, everyone complains about the proliferation of bowl games and, yes, it is weird to have a team exit a bowl game with a losing record. All of that is valid but, in the end, a bit too cynical for my blood these days. Bowl games are for the kids and provide unique experiences.
Some, like the Cure Bowl, can also open a young player’s eyes to something bigger than themselves or the game. The Cure Bowl is a little different than other bowls in that its mission is to promote awareness and research of breast cancer. Undoubtedly, some young man or woman (cheerleaders, trainers, band) from the Tulane Green Wave walked away from this weekend having received a valuable message. Isn’t that cool?
The football team didn’t just kick booty on the field this weekend either as the team got together and packaged over 20,000 meals for the Feeding Children Everywhere hunger project. Doin’ good, feelin’ good, y’all!