As far as preseason games go, it doesn't get much better than this one. The Saints starters looked very impressive in the first half of their 28-20 win over the Oakland Raiders last night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
And get this: I'm not just talking about the offense. Believe it or not, the Saints defense looked great, too! No, I'm not joking. If their effort last week left a bad taste in your mouth, their performance against the Raiders last night should have washed that sour nastiness right out.
Just in case you still don't believe me, here are a bunch of impressive stats and standouts from last night's defensive domination:
- The defense allowed only 185 total net yards. That's actually an improvement over last week's total, which was good enough to earn them first in the league.
- After stuffing the Raiders' first drive on a 4th and 1 attempt, the Saints defense forced four - count 'em - four straight three and outs. Four. Straight.
- The team totaled 7 sacks tonight. By the way, it would have taken last year's defense about three games to achieve that number.
- Let's not forget about the safety the third team defense forced by sheer brute force on the goal line.
- Ramon Humber had 6 tackles, three assists, and a sack.
- Glenn Foster had four tackles and two sacks.
- Kenny Vaccaro had six tackles.
Are you not impressed? Yeah, I know, it's the Raiders. I get that. Grain of salt yada, yada, yada. After all, Matt Flynn never even looked at a completely wide open Jeron Mastrud on the first drive. So I'm not going to make any bold proclamations about the 2013 season just based from this one well-oiled performance. But it has awoken that giddy little boy inside of me. Wait, that didn't sound right. I'm just trying to say that I'm freakin' excited now! Rob Ryan most definitely has these guys on the right track, and heading in the right direction. And if we assume, rightly so, that the Saints offense continues doing what they do, then it's just not possible for this team not be successful in 2013.
Fortunately for all of us, the Saints' offensive starters looked equally impressive last night against the Raiders. Brees was in surgical mode, carving up Oakland's defense while going 14/18 for 202 yards and a touchdown. Not freakin' bad for less than one half of work. To be honest, though, I wish he'd played a little less. Kinda surprised they kept him out there as long as they did.
I'm falling in love with all these talented, young, new receivers. Or as Sean Payton likes to call them: toys. Nick Toon maintaining concentration and making a beautiful 56-yard sideline catch. Kenny Stills keeping the tips of his toes in bounds for a touchdown grab and looking like Lance Moore while doing it. Stills finished the night with 4 catches for 64 yards and was most impressive among the receivers. I've already forgotten about Joe Morgan.
The Saints blew the game wide open right out of the gate with a dominating 23-0 start. Which is exactly what this team can do to an opponent when their defense forces four straight three-and-outs and gives this powerful offense extra possessions with which to do optimal damage. For the first 27 minutes of play last night, the Saints were showing off complementary football at it's absolute finest.
Then their second team entered the game and all hell broke loose. The tables turned. The Raiders went a little tear of their own, scoring 20 unanswered points. Most of that is thanks to four - count 'em - four turnovers by the Saints.
If there were any losers for the Saints tonight, they were definitely Seneca Wallace and Travaris Cadet. The two of them were responsible for all four of those turnovers. Wallace threw an interception and fumbled the ball at the goal line, allowing the Raiders to recover for a touchdown. Cadet also had two fumbles. They both did some serious damage to their chances of making this final roster. Meanwhile, the Raiders complemented their own way back into the football game.
That's enough depressing talk. Let's talk about something positive, like the Saints special teams. Huge improvement all around for these guys. Good coverage on kickoffs and punt returns. They were able to keep Josh Cribbs a non-factor. Preston Parker did okay in kick return duty. I can't say the same for Steve Breaston returning punts. But most importantly, huge props to Garrett Hartley for going 4/4 in kicking duties, including a sweet 53-yarder. Even had a little room to spare.
The play of the night, however, was one that only a lucky few were able to witness. And we'll tuck it away in a private little corner of our hearts to cherish forever. Because as Rob Ryan was walking up the sideline and back onto the field to assume his position for the start the second half, he completely slipped and fell face first onto the field turf! He smiled and could only laugh in embarrassment at this unfortunate turn of events. It... was... glorious.
I'll end this little wrap up the same way Jerry Romig closed out his 446th and final game as PA announcer for the Saints.
"It's been fun. I love you."
More from Canal Street Chronicles:
- Saints-Raiders Final Score 28-20: Starters Set Tone, Backups Appear Tone Deaf In Win
- Saints vs. Raiders Preseason 2013: Three Position Battles To Watch
- Saints vs. Raiders Preseason 2013: Five Questions With Silver & Black Pride
- Saints vs. Raiders Preseason 2013: Keys to the Game
- Saints Lead the NFC South, have No. 1 Ranked Defense in NFL