Dear New Orleans Saints,
Congratulations on your 30-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Also, please send along my kindest regards to the NFL for scheduling you to play a night game after such a hard-partyin’ Halloween (observed) night in New Orleans.
It was hard for me to costume up for Halloween this year. You know why. This is New Orleans and unlike say, Des Moines, Iowa, dressing up isn’t just restricted to one day of the year. On the other hand, you have to participate, so if you saw a luchador running around Uptown with a pack of murderous clowns, nerdy vampires, Mia Wallace from “Pulp Fiction” and other creatures of the night, then you saw yours truly.
Fun fact: If you happen to dress up on Halloween, you can’t get into Fat Harry’s without a shirt on. Now, I’ve been kicked out and not let into many bars for many different reasons in my day, but freeing my nipples has never been one of them. Anyway, like Merlin the Magician I flipped the cape from front to back, held it just so, and voilà, I was no longer a luchador but a Lucha Hey Look At My Really Cool Silver Cape/Shirt guy.
It was such a fun night that I was more than happy that the New Orleans Saints (6-1) didn’t play until Sunday night. It helped me, shall we say, get my thoughts together.
Also, what a scary good game it turned it out to be.
Revenge was in the air. Yes, the Saints and Sean Payton downplayed that aspect of this game but that dark mood was hanging over the Vikings’ field like a specter.
The Saints started hot, taking the first drive 81 yards for an Alvin Kamara 3-yard touchdown reception. Unfortunately, after that, the Vikings (4-3-1) would answer with a 96-yard drive and then a 67-yard drive and all of a sudden the Saints offense was struggling and the Vikings looked like they were going to stick a knife into any soul-cleansing dreams of victory that New Orleans may harbor.
The dread and doom kicked up a notch further after Drew Brees threw his first interception of the season and the Vikings were on the march once again. With two minutes to go in the half and in the red zone it looked like Kirk Cousins was going to lead his team into the half possibly up by double digits. Scary indeed but P.J. Williams, yes P.J. Williams (along with Alex Anzalone) of all people made the play of the half, forcing an Adam Thielen fumble which was scooped up by Marshon Lattimore and returned to the Vikings 32-yard line. Brees made short work of the short field and the Saints were unbelievably in the lead at the half, 17-13.
Where once it felt like the Saints’ backs were against the wall, the second half flipped the script and it was Cousins and the Vikings dangling over the hot kettle. The Saints defense was amped to start the second half and stuffed the Vikings on fourth down to get the ball back for Brees in Vikings territory. Wil Lutz hit one of his three field goals for a 20-13 lead.
The Vikings next ghoulish possession would essentially put the team to sleep. Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs cut his route short and Cousins delivered the pigskin into the hands of P.J. Williams, yes P.J. Williams, and the cornerback took it to the house and the stadium got quiet as the Saints were up 27-13.
It was a weird win for the Black and Gold but one that should send chills down the spines of the league. On a night where Brees wouldn’t even look deep and only had 120 yards passing, the Saints blew out a team that was in last year’s NFC Championship game. On a night, when the defense seemingly couldn’t get to the quarterback in the first half, both third-year Sheldon Rankins and the rookie, Marcus Davenport posted a pair of sacks. On a night that saw the Vikings score two touchdowns in their first two drives their next five drives went: punt, fumble, turnover on downs, the P.J. Williams, yes P.J. Williams’ interception, punt.
It’s a team that can score in bunches. Believe me, Cousins is having nightmares about it after taking this thumping in combination with last year’s loss to the Saints when he played for Washington, a game in which the Saints put up 18 points in the fourth quarter and eventually won the game in overtime.
In short — sometimes, magic is real.
The road gets a little more terrifying as the Saints return to the Superdome to host the undefeated L.A. Rams (8-0), a team laden with stars at every level including running back Todd Gurley and former Saint Brandin Cooks. The potential NFC Championship preview kicks off at 3:25 p.m. on Nov. 4.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: Urban South’s “Finial” Double IPA
Playlist Recommendation: Murf Reeves on WWOZ – Monday 11 A.M.
Around the Way
The #4 LSU Tigers (7-1) opened as a 14-point underdog to the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0) and Tiger twitter went nuts.
I get that they love the Tigers and LSU is having a great year under Coach Orgeron but lines are set off of available data not love for programs. Alabama is absolutely destroying everyone. They’re not trending up, they’re not gaining momentum. The season started and Alabama has decimated everything in its path. Alabama hangs 50 points so often it seems like you’re looking at the results on a basketball schedule. Texas A&M came the closest to beating Alabama and lost by 22 points at home. And, oh yeah, the quarterback that led them to the Playoffs two years ago and to the championship game last year is their backup quarterback. They’re averaging 53 points a game in SEC play and other impressive things in italics.
So, yeah, good luck LSU. The game kicks off at 7 p.m., Nov. 4, in Death Valley.