The game was literally won by a coin toss.
The New Orleans Saints (2-1) are all about the drama aren’t they? Yet, on a day where it seemed like New Orleans was going to take a loss on the road to their archrival Atlanta Falcons (1-2), Drew Brees led the team to wild a 43-37 overtime victory.
The Saints defense had absolutely nothing they could throw at Matt Ryan, getting shredded for 374 yards and 5 touchdowns in another embarrassing performance. P.J. Williams did his best to make a legend of Falcons rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley, getting torched repeatedly in another forgettable performance. But Williams shouldn’t forget it because another one of these displays and he could find himself on the waiver wire looking for a new home.
But honestly, it wasn’t just Williams. It was the entire defensive backfield. Marshon Lattimore is no longer feared, Marcus Williams is getting lost deep and Ken Crawley, who lost the starting position to P.J. Williams, are all putting in sub-par efforts. It was basically the Week One loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all over again.
Yet it wasn’t and that is all due to Drew Brees. On a day in which the future Hall of Famer passed Brett Favre in setting the all-time completions record with 6,301 completions, the 39-year-old quarterback was unstoppable, lighting up the Falcons for 396 yards and 3 touchdowns against no picks. Brees would add two touchdowns rushing, including a sweet spin move into the end zone that tied the game up with just over a minute to go.
With the game tied up at 37, the Crescent City citizens felt a pang in their stomachs knowing the Saints D hadn’t stopped, well, not much all day. Thankfully, Matt Ryan couldn’t do anything with the time and the Southern shootout headed to overtime.
Then the Saints won the most important coin toss of their season.
With the ball now in Touchdown Brees’ hand, on a day in which he had already shattered yet another NFL record, the feeling changed from dread to confidence. There was no way Drew was going to let the Falcons get the ball back. Then, right on cue, Brees put on a classic clinic.
It was a quiet storm of short passes that ate up yards. Brees to Ben Watson. Brees to Michael Thomas, who turned it up field for a huge 23 yard gain. A couple of short passes to Alvin Kamara would follow and the Saints were quickly in field goal range. But a field goal would allow the Falcons to get the ball back. Brees wasn’t having that. Brees hit Thomas (who set his own record with most receptions in the first three games of an NFL season at 38) and eventually went back to Thomas again and the Saints were knocking on the door. After a pass to Alvin Kamara for a touchdown was correctly overruled, Brees would take it over the top himself, diving into the end zone and ending a scintillating affair the only way it really could end.
Other Good Stuff
It was a critical win for the Saints as the NFC South is once again no joke. The Carolina Panthers (2-1) ran all over the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay didn’t have enough FitzMagic to beat the Steelers but are 2-1 as well. Besides that, it’s just nice to knock down your bitter rival to 1-2 on the year, right?
Obviously when your offense puts up 43 points there are plenty of accolades to go around on that side of the ball. Kamara was Kamara again picking up 66 yards on the ground and 124 through the air. He’s an absolute weapon that will only become deadlier once Mark Ingram returns from his suspension.
With Brees completing passes at will the receiving corps racked up some healthy stats but none were bigger than the fourth down catch by fullback Zach Line for a touchdown. That’s how crazy this game was folks. Critical fourth down with everything on the line? Of course you throw it to the fullback.
As everyone is now officially sour on the Saints defense it should be noted that the defensive line had a rock solid game. The interior line held their own against the run, Cam Jordan picked up two big sacks and first-round draft pick Michael Davenport got his first sack as a professional.
Also the city’s heart goes out to the Saints’ special teams who generated yet another punt block against the Falcons. It’s easily my favorite tradition in this heated series and once again allowed Steve Gleason to tweet his fave hashtag to the Falcons – #NeverPunt.
The Saints travel to New York to take on the football Giants (1-2) in a game where they will be favored but does that really mean anything? Expect drama. Here’s to defensive coordinator Dennis Allen getting a handle on these d-backs because, if he doesn’t, it could be a long season. Mr. Allen, Drew Brees won’t be around forever and this team is built to win now (thus, trading up to get Michael Davenport), please figure this out.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Mudbug Brewery’s “The Noob” American IPA
Playlist Recommendation: “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” – Tomoyasu Hotel
Around the Way
The #18 Nicholls State Colonels (2-2) picked up a huge win versus #11 Sam Houston State, beating the Bearkats 27-7. Not only did the Colonels avenge last season’s 66-17 shellacking by the Bearkats but, just as importantly, avoid starting their conference season at 0-2.
The Colonels are not only vying for a Southland Conference title but, if they don’t get that, an at-large berth to the FCS Playoffs. With only 14 at-large berths to the FCS Playoffs on the line (and the Missouri Valley Conference will gobble up a handful of those) there’s little room for error.
So, there’s a long way to go but this win was massive for the boys from Thibodeaux.
Nicholls State hosts Lamar this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.