The Saints got off to a slow start on both offense and defense yesterday against the Houston Texans but finished strong in an incredibly exciting fourth quarter that saw 37 points scored by both teams and the Saints finish on top by a final score of 40-33.
Slow starts have been the Saints M.O. so far this season but like the old saying goes, it's not how you start but how you finish, and the Saints are absolute money late in games thanks to the leadership of Drew Brees. They have been outscored 38-10 so far this season in the first quarter but they are outscoring opponents 94 to 50 in the final three quarters. Throw that stat around at the water cooler with your buddies this week.
I'll leave the intro at that but, like the Saints, I'm going to finish this post strong with the rest of my detailed bullet points from the game, which can be found after the jump.
- By now we've all heard the depressing news about Steve Gleason and his battle with ALS. But reading that touching Times-Pic article is nothing compared to seeing how the disease has already affected Gleason. It's so hard to fathom that the man responsible for one of the greatest moments in Saints history has gone from tackling and punt blocking to needing assistance while walking in just five years. Truly upsetting. If you'd like to help, check out the website to his foundation and join Team Gleason.
- Last week I had to sit next to an annoying Bears fan. This week I had the pleasure of sitting next to a guy who had to spit out his tobacco on the floor upon arrival before drinking his beer and eating his food. Delicious. Can't wait to see who's there next week.
- We got to the game early and not long after we sat down in our seats, my wife went up to the concourse to go to the bathroom, leaving her purse with me. Five minutes later I'm getting a phone call on my cell from an unknown number; it's Erin calling me with the cell phone of our section's seat usher. The usher won't let Erin down to our seats without a ticket, which is in her purse with me, so I need to come up and bring her ticket to show the usher and prove she really sits there. Is that ridiculous or what?
- I've noticed that Gregg Williams regularly gives WWL sideline reporter Kristian Garic a fist bump when he first walks out onto the field before a game.
- I also noticed today that most of the Saints coaching staff wear the same pair of Reebok sneakers, I think those new ZigTech thingies. Payton doesn't wear them.
- There were waaaaaaay too many Houston Texans fans in the building.
- The Saints defense was the epitome of 'bend but don't break.' They gave up a ton of yardage, mostly through the air, but tightened up when needed most: the red zone. The Texans made five trips into the red zone but only converted on one of those. It wasn't pretty but it was enough to win the game.
- Like last week, it seemed the Saints were getting the shaft from the referees yesterday. They didn't call what looked like a helmet-to-helmet hit on Drew Brees and they appeared to miss an obvious pass interference call late in the game.
- Glad I started Jimmy Graham in one of my personal fantasy football leagues. With 100 yards and a touchdown vs. the Texans, he was money for Brees and the Saints. He's not perfect, though. Looked like he missed a couple of potential catches earlier in the game. But like a fine wine, he's only going to get better with time.
- I think it's safe to say that Lance Moore is back. He had a couple of key receptions on important downs earlier in the game but he dominated on that 4th quarter scoring drive with 5 catches, including a touchdown and a two-point conversion play ripped right out of the Saints Super Bowl XLIV playbook. Only two plays in that drive didn't include Moore. He'll always be Drew's favorite receiver.
- Moore also scored a second two-point conversion in nearly the exact same fashion following Ingram's touchdown. You would have thought the Texans would have learned their lesson the first time.
- The halftime entertainment was the usual Cash Catch followed by two quick youth football scrimmages. The selected Cash Catch participant had to back out at the last minute, however, so Gumbo the mascot filled in.
- Thomas Morstead is always the first person out of the locker room during halftime.
- I'm not sure if it was just because they weren't bringing the blitz but the Saints defense was getting incredibly little pressure on Matt Schaub, who had all day in the pocket.
- Congratulations to rookie running back Mark Ingram for scoring the first touchdown of his career. He led the team in rushing with 9 carries for 38 yards.
- Despite two interceptions Drew Brees had a hell of a game. On the first pick it looked like he didn't see the defender behind Devery and the second appeared to be a miscommunication with Jimmy Graham. Still, the dude is having a great season thus far and becoming a late-game scoring drive machine.
- I wasn't happy with the coverage from Jonathan Casillas on James Casey's touchdown catch. But I was impressed to see him learn from his mistake when on the exact same play later in the game, Casillas had his head turned around and made a beautiful pass breakup to save a score. He also nearly had an interception but wound up bobbling it to Kevin Walter for the go-ahead touchdown.
- Jabari Greer had another good game. Like last week he broke up a couple of key pass plays and this week even nabbed a key fourth quarter interception.
- I just love watching Darren Sproles run. Damn that guy is shifty!
- If you were hoping for more balance in the offensive play calling, you were disappointed big time yesterday. The Saints only ran the ball 22 times but called 46 passing plays. That's a 67/33 pass to run ratio. Understandable I suppose since the Saints played most of the game down. But it seemed like they could have run the ball and eat up a little more clock on the Lance Moore scoring drive instead of rushing to score. I'm nitpicking.
- The Texans defense jumped over the line about three different times but the Saints never snapped the ball quickly enough to catch them and get a free play. Is that just luck or is it inexperience?
- The Superdome didn't truly come alive and get loud until the Saints started their first comeback in the 4th quarter.
- On the injury front, the offensive line took a beating. Zach Strief needed to be carted to the locker room and Olin Kreutz left the game early but remained dressed on the sideline.
- I'm pretty sure Malcolm Jenkins' parents were in attendance and sitting in my general vicinity.
- Might we say the Saints have the best offense in the NFL?