Okay, I admit it.
When Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin raced through the Saints defense untouched with 5:55 remaining in the first quarter to put the Bucs up 14-0, I thought the game was over. My faith in the Saints coming back and getting the win was gone. The scenario was just way too familiar and the victory over the Chargers did not quite bring about a 2009 deja vu feeling, when a three touchdown deficit was no sweat with Drew Brees at the helm.
However, I had just ordered a dozen garlic parmesan chicken wings and was following my warm up Bloody Mary with a cold Abita Amber draught along the banks of the Gulfport Seaway, on what was a picture perfect fall afternoon at the Dock Bar and Restaurant. It seems that I had subconsciously already accepted defeat even before the end of the first quarter, as I had started down the path of how I usually handle disappointment: I eat and drink unmercifully. Some people cry, some people curse. I go for food chain domination with a clean plate and a pile of sauce covered napkins as my sign of conquest! Interestingly, this is also how I handle victories.
Shame, shame, shame on me for losing faith so soon. Before my plate of wings had arrived Brees was carving up the Buccaneers' defense en route to a 17-yard touchdown pass to the resurgent Marques Colston. Game on!
Brees had so much time to throw the ball on that drive that he could have ordered hot wings too. Which in my mind was the key to the Saints victory. Well, Malcolm Jenkins deserves some credit too for his run down of Vincent Jackson at the goal line and key stop on the Bucs next set of downs, on which they were unable to punch it in to the end zone. The improvement the offensive line showed Sunday was phenomenal. Brees for the most part had all day to throw.
I had been thinking that maybe the poor play of the offensive line was the result of Aaron Kromer being named interim, interim head coach for the first six games and not getting enough time to spend with them. Whatever the case they have adjusted. With the return of Joe Vitt as interim coach #1, and the subsequent return of Kromer back to "full time" offensive line coach, it will be interesting to see if that will have an impact. Of course the quality of the opponent is also a factor.
My favorite image of the day was on a replay of offensive tackle Zach Strief burying and pancaking a Buccaneer defensive lineman on a pass block. If the big uglies up front keep blocking like that I may just have to order pancakes instead of hot wings in their honor. Pass the syrup!