Their defense was the big story, looking markedly better this week than in their losing performance against the Packers last week. The Saints notched six sacks in their successful effort to pressure Jay Cutler all day and coupled that with quality pass coverage on the back end.
Drew Brees, on the other hand, continued to do what he and the offense do best: score points. Devery Henderson, Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles remain favorite targets of his, the three of them accounting for 65% of Drew's completions.
It might be wrong to assume all of the Saints problems have been solved based on this win, however. Is the Saints defense really getting better pressure or does the Bears offensive line really suck that bad? Will the secondary continue to shut down their opponents or is the Bears receiving corps really that crappy? Hopefully this performance was a step in the right direction for a good Saints team getting better and not simply the reflection of a weak opponent with serious match up problems. I suppose we're going to find out soon enough.
Make the jump for more of my random thoughts via bullet points. Pictures from my afternoon will be posted later this afternoon.
- Getting into the Dome was a pain the ass thanks to the heightened security and extra pat downs, which are completely useless anyway in my opinion.
- I had almost forgotten how much more electric a regular season crowd is compared to the preseason games.
- Irma Thomas sang the the National Anthem.
- Courtney Roby gave the signal to start the Who Dat chant.
- The Bears fan sitting next to me was difficult to stomach. When the Saints were on offense he would keep yelling out what he thought their play call was going to be like, "Watch the run up the middle!" or "Watch the tight end!" as if Lovie Smith could actually hear him. Then, each time the Saints actually ran the play he 'warned' the Bears about, he would look to everyone around him for congratulatory acknowledgement. Incredibly annoying. At least he was polite and respectful.
- I definitely hoped to see an improvement on defense after the loss to the Packers last week but I definitely didn't expect the difference to be so drastic. Most surprising was the push they were able to get up front and the pressure they put on Jay Cutler. Roman Harper and Junior Galette both notched two sacks apiece out of a total six. Turk McBride's sack-fumble in the 3rd quarter was probably the most crucial however, leading to a Meachem touchdown. There were also a few tackles on Matt Forte in the backfield for a loss.
- Former Tulane running back Matt Forte had only 49 yards on the ground (most of that from one play) but accumulated a whopping 117 receiving yards on 10 catches. Almost all of that came from dump off passes over the middle that Cutler was able to complete between blitzing linemen and Bears defenders in coverage. It was pretty much the only success the Bears had on offense. Fortunately, it just wasn't enough.
- Devery Henderson continues to make those Saints fans who thought the team would cut him look stupid. He had 103 yards and a touchdown on three catches yesterday and leads the team in receiving yards thus far.
- Payton was giving out high-fives to the entire offensive line following the Devery Henderson touchdown.
- Kudos to the offensive line in general for doing a good job keeping Brees relatively clean and giving him time in the pocket. Definitely impressive given the fact they had to face Julius Peppers and a good Bears defensive line. Peppers was a non-factor.
- Drew Brees just isn't playing at the same high level we've seen in the past. Did you see him overthrow Jimmy Graham in the corner of the end zone on that second series? What the hell was that? In all seriousness, Drew is having himself one hell of a season so far. In two games he's thrown for 689 yards, 6 touchdowns, a 67.4% completion percentage and 0 interceptions. The 79-yard touchdown toss to Devery Henderson was a thing of beauty with great touch.
- It definitely didn't seem like the officials were favoring the Saints. The roughing the passer penalty on Roman Harper was questionable at best and the no-call on a late, out of bounds hit on Robert Meachem had Payton and the crowd heated, causing "Bull$#!&" chants to erupt around the stadium briefly.
- Jonathan Vilma walked slowly into the locker room with trainers before the end of the first half, missing a series or two. He came back in the second half looking fine.
- The UL-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns marching band was the halftime entertainment.
- I'm not really in any hurry to see Garrett Hartley get healthy. His replacement, John Kasay, nailed three field goals yesterday, including a 53-yarder. If Kasay continues to have the hot foot, I'm not sure the Saints should get rid of him as soon as Hartley's ready to come back.
- Malcolm Jenkins seemed to cover a lot of field yesterday while putting together a solid defensive performance. Roman Harper had a good day also. Both of them were laying the wood out there. Great play from the Saints safeties.
- The pass defense looked pretty good all around. Jabari Greer had a few key pass breakups. Patrick Robinson also showed some sparks on a couple of plays. Not bad at all for a defense missing Tracy Porter.
- We had a Cameron Jordan sighting!
- It might have only been two field goals for Kasay if the fake FG audible by the Saints had actually been run and not blown dead before the snap because of a de la Puente false start penalty. Wonder what they were going to run.
- I thought that with a big lead and a running back like Mark Ingram, the Saints would have attempted to grind out the clock late in the game but Payton continued to go through the air. Questionable.
- Looked like Pierre Thomas had a slight case of the dropsies yesterday.
- Thomas Morstead was kicking the hell out of the ball, particularly the clutch 59-yard punt from the back of the Saints endzone.
- Payton was pissed and gave Zach Strief an earful following that pathetic offensive three and out late in the game that included two penalties, including a Strief false start.
- Tom and Gayle Benson came down to the Saints sideline to celebrate and congratulate shortly before the game ended. Tom gave Gregg Williams a big hug.