As Week 10 of the NFL season rolled into New Orleans, bringing with it the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons, the Saints and their fans were feeling uppity. Not that this game needed more intensity, as a quite heated rivalry already existed (AWD's HATE MANIFESTO, anyone?), but Joe Vitt had just earned his first win of the season with a thrashing of the Philadelphia Eagles six days earlier on Monday Night Football, lifting the squad to 3-5 overall (including 3-1 since the 0-4 start). That was all it took for folks to have visions of a resurgent Who Dat attack going 11-5 and dancing on the graves of their vanquished opponents.
I was not in that number, however. I was glad to see the Saints show some signs of life in victory, to be sure, but those earlier defeats of every shape and color (close losses, blowing a big lead and then losing in OT, getting shellacked) loomed in my thoughts, which were basically, "anything can happen this year - good or bad - so be ready for it."
I also was not part of the throng who believed the Falcons had "lucked" their way to 8-0, and were just waiting to be exposed as nothing but so much smoke and mirrors. Wins are wins, and they all count the same until the season's over and you grade them in retrospect, with a heaping spoonful of 20/20 hindsight.
So, for me, this 31-27 win was AMAZING, and easily makes my list of 2012 High Points, with the game playing out thusly:
Atlanta jumped up 10-0 early following an opening drive TD and then kicking a FG after a Drew Brees INT deep in Saints territory on the first play of their own first "drive" - GAAAA! But, reflective of the up and down season that was the 2012 Saints, mixed in that mess was also a defensive stop on third down that had been preceded by an ASS-ante Samuel excessive celebration penalty on his interception that moved their starting yard line back from the 12 to the 27.
When TUSK!! soon took it to the house to make it 10-7 on a 56-yard rumble featuring a face-palming of CB Dunta Robinson, I hoped that it was a signal of the turning of the tide.
The Saints took a 21-17 lead into halftime, and with a third-quarter Brees to Colston TD, found themselves up by 11 points. After allowing the Falcons to claw their way back in it with 10 straight points, the offense managed a FG, the defense dug deep to make a 4th down stop on the Saints two-yard line, and then weather some desperation long balls before Brees finally kneeled out the clock.
Whew! What a way to get to 4-5 while knocking Atlanta from the lofty perch of the undefeated. NICE.
HERE are some of the stats plus our immediate reactions to the win. And THIS is Dave's semi-serious case for Darren Sproles to stay sidelined to help the Saints maintain balance on offense. Dave's bullet points are HERE, and check out his GAMEDAY PICS, too. PREDICTION RESULTS.
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What are your memories of this game and how you felt after it? How high is it on YOUR list of High Points of 2012?