"I think that large pop I heard was the Saints pulling their head out of their ass & playing good football again."
- Dang Hu Dat
Now that's more like it! That's what I'm talkin' 'bout!
The Saints finally dominated an opponent the way a defending Super Bowl championship team should and the way fans expect when they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-6. It's nice to not have to be so angry following a Saints loss or even a close win but this game proves: The Saints were, in fact, under-performing the first five games of the season.
We knew they had it in them. Even Terry Bradshaw knew they had it in them when he called them out and read them the riot act on Fox's pre-game show. He wasn't speaking for himself either. He was speaking for all of Who Dat Nation when he called for more big plays, more quarterback pressure, more turnovers and a better Drew Brees. Fans didn't see all of that but this was definitely the best the Saints have looked so far this season. Here are the major reasons why:
- The running game looked drastically improved thanks to Chris Ivory's beastly performance. Ivory finished the day with 158 yards on 15 carries, averaging 10.5 yards per carry. I'd say you could classify this as a breakout performance. The success of the running game and the ability of the team to take a comfortable lead early allowed the Saints offense to remain well balanced with play calling. Give credit to the offensive line as well who did a much better job blocking and opening up holes. This was by far the best rushing performance by the Saints this year.
- Big plays made their triumphant return to the offense today. Not only did Brees hit Lance Moore and Robert Meachem for 41 and 42 yard passing touchdowns respectively but the Saints were able to gain big chunks of yardage on the ground as well, including 33-yard run by Ivory, the longest rushing play for the Saints this season.
- The team wore gold pants. Not black.
But it wasn't perfect, of course. The Saints still have a serious kicker problem after Hartley shanked one of his two field goal attempts. The red zone percentages still leave a lot to be desired. As great as Chris Ivory performed today, I still have an issue with his ball security. He fumbled once again today but only because of a lucky bounce to go out of bounds did the Saints avoid turning it over. And the right side of the offensive line (Jahri Evans and Jon Stinchcomb) continues to take unnecessary penalties.
All in all, this is exactly what what everyone hoped for and assumed they would see. With another weak opponent in the Cleveland Browns next up on the schedule, the Saints should be able to continue this momentum all the way through to the Steelers game.
Injuries: Jabari Greer and Chris Ivory both appears to get nicked up. I'm not sure why Ivory was being used so late in the game to begin with.
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This game will be dedicated to the as yet unborn Bocephus Boudreaux "Cool" Brees.