Did you happen to watch the Saints game today? If you did, you might have noticed the dominant performance the Saints turned in today, both on the scoreboard and in TOP. Know what's funny, though? They won by 22 points. That means those last three TDs didn't contribute squat to winning. Sure, they rendered the victory more comfortable. You know what else did? The TOP on those three drives. As well as the TOP on all non-scoring drives, as those didn't contribute to the number of points necessary to win this game either.
In truth, only three scoring drives contributed directly to this victory. The first three TDs. Those drives produced 21 points. As long as the ensuing starting field position for the Vikings remained the same, every other drive could have ended in a giveaway and the Saints would have been no worse off. Those first three scoring drives represented 14:11 in TOP. The Saints finished the game with 38:49 seconds. That means that 24:38 of the Saints total TOP was spent on either failed scoring drives or superfluous scoring. That said, it was still 24:38 the Vikings weren't afforded on offense. I'm pretty sure any team in the league is at least capable of scoring 22 points in 24:38, if given that opportunity. Therein lies the value of TOP.
What you have to understand is, I'm not saying the 4th, 5th and 6th DRIVES themselves were superfluous. I'm saying the TOP that was accumulated in those drives is the only thing that made them important in hindsight. The TDs that were tacked on at the end of those drives were just icing on the cake. Think about it. If Brees pass to Gilmore is intercepted in the end zone and is returned to the 25 yard line, we're truly no worse off in the long run. That's where the Vikings took over on the ensuing kickoff anyway. Of course, there's no way of assuring the DB gets tackled. He could run the INT back for six and then we're definitely worse off. I'm not suggesting that Brees shouldn't be trying to score in that situation. A more commanding lead is always better. That doesn't lessen the importance of TOP. The TOP accumulated on the drive is present regardless. It contributed directly to the victory. The 4th, 5th and 6th TDs did not. They merely padded the final margin of victory. Again, not saying that's a bad thing.
Regardless, you could have conceivably had nine drives END in turnovers -- i.e., exactly as they played out, with the exception of the last play of each being a giveaway, with no advantage gained in field position by the Vikings -- and we still would have ultimately won a nail biter, 21-20. Two of those nine actually DID end in turnovers, so we're talking about the last three TD drives, the missed FG and three punts. The punts would obviously have to be long passes, either intercepted or fumble by the receiver upfield (a la Graham), in order to maintain the same field position for Minnesota. Of course, the odds of a 9:1 turnover ratio advantage NOT paying dividends on the scoreboard are astronomical and that still holds true in this hypothetical scenario, albeit NOT in the form of more points on the scoreboard for Minnesota. Instead, the advantage would lie in thwarted scoring opportunities for the Saints. With the benefit of hindsight, we know that to only be 21 points. It could have possibly been as many as 49 (56 with 2 pt conversions), but that's neither here nor there. As with tacking on more points, I'm not suggesting we should be turning the ball over more often. All I'm saying here is turnover ratio doesn't amount to jack in terms of winning, if you fail to take advantage of them. The Vikings actually would have cashed in on one, no matter how you slice it, on the late TD to Gerhart. And in truth, I'm sure they would have gone for two there, if the score is 19-21. So yeah, I'm glad we had at least one of those three TDs to fall back on.
In any case, although I'm sure you won't openly admit it, our 17:38 edge in TOP was HUGELY advantageous in today's victory. As was the other 7 minutes we spent d*** king around on offense. As was the 14:11 we spent driving to score the only 21 points that truly mattered. In short, along with many other factors, all TOP accrued today proved advantageous, just as it does in any victory. Roughly half the scoring cannot be included among those many other factors.
That's all from a Saintly point of view. From the Vikings' side, they failed to move the ball efficiently throughout the game, which ALSO led directly to the huge TOP advantage for the Saints. Unlike you, I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm unaware of the big picture. I am FULLY aware that not every aspect of TOP stems from simply controlling the clock on offense. That doesn't mean it isn't beneficial to do so, be it while maintaining a lead (as the Saints did successfully today) OR while establishing one (as I'd kill to see them work towards doing more consistently). As usual, the balance wasn't there throughout and we DID struggle at times because of it. Both giveaways transpired in the passing game. Brees was driven to the ground at least a couple of times, which could have been catastrophic. That's not to say the running game doesn't need work, as well. I truly think we should strongly consider going after the best blocking fullback in the draft next year, whoever that may be. Those guys usually fall somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round. Not like we're going to land a more immediate impact player in that range otherwise. While Heath Evans was deplorable as a lead blocker, this Collins kid may be even worse. How often has he gotten flagged for holding this season? I'm going to go the FriarBob route and say at LEAST fifty.
Speaking of hyperboles, looks like PRob forgot to cash in on that 40 yard pass surrendered he's supposedly good for every week, AGAIN today. What's the excuse this time, Danny? Games played in twin cities don't count as weekly? Three passes defended, one interception. What did Tracy Porter's numbers look like? Oh, that's right. He doesn't appear on the stat sheet whatsoever. Do you know what ELSE he didn't do today? He didn't START! He's been SUPPLANTED on the depth chart by PRob. GEAUX TRACY! Gosh, what an unusual move by Gregg Williams, demoting the better player and going with the guy who gets toasted
weekly bi-monthly. GW must not subscribe to the DK Quarterly. He really should, you know. So much valuable insight to be had there.
Like, how teams that lose the TOP battle are EXPECTED to win. Editor's note: even though TOP is supposedly "meaningless", having less TOP somehow carries expectations, according to this week's DK game predictions. A fascinating study in contradiction, to be sure. Also, how 38-12 victories are bound to be grossly pass heavy, because PASSING MOAR is what ultimately wins games. This despite the fact that passing has been mathematically proven to have less correlation with victory this season, than a so-called "meaningless" statistic! I'm not making this up, folks. Turnover ratios are said to be more telling than TOP, as well ... just not today. ;-) Seems like an awesome publication. I think I'll save up, buy the swimsuit issue and let my dog christen it with a nice big steamy turd. GEAUX FIDEAUX!
Nah, I'm just messing around. I would never buy Dan's swimsuit magazine. I WOULD buy Jeff Duncan's swimsuit magazine, though. He's a lot more intelligent in a bikini. Or on any topic pertaining to football.