Here's what writers from around the internet have to say about the Saints' thrilling 41-24 victory over the Jaguars:
- Peter King, Sports Illustrated:
In his last two games, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has played out of his mind -- 66 of 88, 781 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions ... a Bradyesque rating of 128.1. Best of all: After getting chased all over the field in the Saints' 0-4 start, Brees has been sacked once in his last 89 pass drops.
"We blew our expectations for this year out of proportion,'' Brees told me Sunday night, after the Saints routed Jacksonville to get to .500, "and when we started struggling, everyone on the offense started trying to do too much. I could see it in the huddle -- we all tried to be supermen out there. You can't play football like that.''
Brees said he thinks the offense can be better than the 2006 version. It doesn't have to be better. If it's as good, New Orleans will be playing for something in late December.
- Jeffri Chadiha, ESPN.com:
New Orleans deserves a ton of credit. The Saints could have bottomed out after starting the season with four straight losses. Instead, they now have reeled off four straight victories -- including Sunday's 41-24 win over Jacksonville -- and they are looking like a legitimate contender in the mediocre NFC South. This is one turnaround that was impossible to see coming a month ago.
Of course, it's not hard to find the person most responsible for this change of fortune: That would be quarterback Drew Brees. He has completed 71.5 percent of his attempts over the Saints' past four games, while throwing 11 touchdowns and one interception. (He had 445 passing yards and three touchdowns against Jacksonville.)
Just as impressive is the protection he has received from his offensive line, as New Orleans has allowed just one sack in its past five games. Don't look now, but the Saints are primed for a strong second-half run.
- Ben Riley, Football Outsiders:
Drew Brees has more than 300 yards passing in the first half. Welcome back, Saints 2006 offense.
I like Sean Payton as a coach, but the following sequence baffled me:
- Olindo Mare misses a 40ish-yard field goal, wide right, with a minute to play.
- Jacksonville immediately turns the ball over after the kick.
- Drew Brees marches the Saints down the field — welcome back from the fantasy dead, Marques Colston! — but the drive stalls with eight seconds to play.
- Olindo Mare misses a 50ish-yard field goal, wide right.
Mare is now six-of-12 on the year, I think. Maybe it’s time to go in a different direction, Sean.
- Jimmy Smith, Times-Picayune:
[I]t's impossible to look past what the Saints accomplished Sunday, no matter the cloud Payton sees lurking behind a silver lining.
-- The Saints won their fourth consecutive game, their longest winning streak under Payton;
-- They snapped a five-game losing streak against AFC opponents, dating to last season's opening-day win against the Cleveland Browns;
-- After an 0-4 start, New Orleans (4-4) is now a half-game out of first place in the NFC South behind Tampa Bay (5-4) and tied with Carolina, which lost to the Tennessee Titans 20-7. With the Bucs scheduled for a bye next week, the Saints could move into a first-place tie with a win over the Rams;
-- Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 445 yards, including a team-record 346 in the first half, completing 35 of 49 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions, spreading the wealth around to nine receivers;
-- Wideout Marques Colston caught 10 passes for 159 yards, giving him 18 receptions in the past two games after catching 26 in the first six;
-- The Saints' defense set a club record by holding an opponent to less than 100 rushing yards for the seventh consecutive game. It limited the potent Jacksonville rushing attack, led by Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, to 88 yards on 23 attempts;
-- Cornerback Mike McKenzie returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter that broke open a 24-17 game that, at the time, could have gone either way.