NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to running back Darren Sproles #43 and broke the single-season passing record in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints defeated the Falcons 45-16. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Drew Brees' record-breaking performance last night vs. the Falcons will certainly dominate all the post-game talk in Who Dat Nation and the media this week but let's not lose sight of just how good this entire football team is playing right now.
The Saints just beat down their division rival 45-16, locked up their third NFC South championship in six years, are very healthy overall and are playing incredible football on both sides of the ball as they enter into the playoffs. Best offense in the league? You bet your ass. Good enough defense? They just keep getting better. Take notice, NFL fans and media. Because the Saints can't lose. You want some of this, Green Bay? Didn't think so.
Make the jump for all my first-hand notes from the game last night. Let me know if you disagree with anything I have to say and I will tell you why you are wrong. My personal photos from the memorable evening will be posted tomorrow.
- I met up with friends at Finn McCools Irish Pub in mid city to do a little pre-game preparation and left for the dome early from there.
- The Saints wore their black pants again, bitches. That stupid curse is so 2009.
- The Saints remain unbeaten at home this season.
- The couple that own the two seats next to me were finally in attendance for this game and introduced themselves. They live in Virginia and normally sell their seats online each week, which explains why there's always a different couple in the seats each week.
- The PA system was broken during player introductions so the starting offensive players each ran out of the tunnel without introduction.
- M-V-P chants broke out after Drew ran out of the tunnel.
- Sedrick Ellis led the pre-game Who Dat chant.
- The crowd was definitely loudest on the first series of the game when the Saints were on defense.
- A few of the Saints players showed their Christmas spirit by wearing red and green athletic tape around their ankles and/or wrists. How festive.
- If the NFL were the NBA, Commissioner Roger Goodell would have voided the Darren Sproles signing this summer because it's almost unfair how much better he makes this already incredibly talented Saints offense. Sproles had 5 rushes for 57 yards, 2 catches for 22 yards and 4 kick returns for 144 yards last night plus a touchdown. I believe he's still within striking distance of the single-season all-purpose yardage record.
- Once again the Saints defense completely shut down their opponents running game. Michael Turner was limited to just 39 yards on 11 carries. As a team, the Falcons rushed for only 35 yards net! An unbelievable effort by the Saints defense as a unit.
- Despite playing very well, I was still disappointed with the little pressure the Saints defense was able to generate on Matt Ryan. They got no sacks all evening.
- Marques Colston was awesome last night and literally almost cost me the championship in our official CSC fantasy football league. Almost. He finished the night with 7 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He's now just two yards shy of 1,000 on the season. Pay the man!!!
- The Saints offense was dominant on third down, going 10/13 - 76%.
- I think the attempt to have Drew Brees break Dan Marino's record last night may have slightly affected the play calling late in the game. Not like I haven't complained about this before but it seemed like the offense could have definitely run the ball a little more in the 4th quarter of this runaway to use up more clock.
- Drew Brees threw two interceptions last night? Huh, I hadn't noticed. We'll give him a "pass" on those two. The deflection interception in the end zone wasn't really Drew's fault anyway. His streak of games without an interception is over, however. Time to start a new one. More bad news: those two interceptions probably hurt any unlikely MVP chances.
- Fortunately, the defense was able to come up with a turnover themselves when Scott Shanle knocked the ball from the grasp of Julio Jones. Even better Malcolm Jenkins scooped it up and ran it back for six points. It feels like it's been forever since we've seen the defense help put points on the board. More please.
- Speaking of Malcolm Jenkins, did you see him nail Reggie Kelly on that 3rd down catch attempt over the middle? Kelly's back bent so far back it looked like it was going to snap in half.
- The Saints didn't run the ball any more than usual but they were incredibly efficient doing so, averaging 7.1 yards per carry and rushing for 164 yards on only 23 carries. It's this passing/rushing dual threat that makes the Saints offense so unstoppable.
- I have no idea what the halftime entertainment was but I do have pictures. You can be the judge.
- Thomas Morstead only punted twice in the game but his second was an incredible 59-yard boot. Legatron strikes again.
- I saw Whistle Monsta get interviewed by ESPN on the sidelines early in the second half but have no idea why. I am assuming it was about Whistlegate following the Tennessee Titans game in Week 14.
- I didn't, however, see Pierre Thomas bust out a bow and slap it on the football before giving it to a fan after his touchdown. I admit I giggled when I got home and saw the replay on ESPN but that's silly stuff and the resulting penalty cost the Saints yards. Gotta say, I'm surprised to see Pierre go all Joe Horn on us.
- Boxing legend Evander Holyfield was in attendance sitting in section 114, rooting for the Falcons and getting harassed for autographs and photos by fans.
- Roman Harper would head into the locker room before the start of the 4th quarter. Not sure what it was about but he would return to action before the end of the game.
- Cannot believe there was no penalty called when Drew Brees got ripped down by his facemask on first down in the second quarter.
- I guess Pat McQuistan is taking the place of Zach Strief. He's now the one always announced as an eligible receiver before certain plays. "Number 76 is eligible. 76 is eligible." Interesting sidenote: While I was watching the 49ers vs. Seahawks game this past weekend, I noticed McQuistan playing offensive tackle for the Seahawks and assumed the Saints had released him without my knowledge and had gotten picked up by Seattle. As it turns out, that wasn't Pat McQuistan but rather his twin brother, Paul. Who knew? Interesting sidenote to my sidenote: Pat wears #76 while Paul wears the inverse #67.
- There seems to be some talk about the Saints resting starters next week vs. the Panthers. WHAT!?!? They better f****** not. The Saints have a shot at the No. 2 overall seed in the NFC and a first round bye with a win next week over Carolina and a San Francisco loss to the Rams. It might be a longshot but unless Payton knows for a fact that the Niners are going to win their game, he's got to play everyone and hope for the best. Resting starters next week would be equivalent to giving up and giving in. That's just not acceptable. Everyone plays next week.