This morning, I decided To hell with it...I'm going to SEE this game. So I bit the bullet and went to a local sports bar, prepared to sit through three hours of cigarette smoke and obnoxious drunks in order to get my Saints fix. In the end, it was more like spending the afternoon at the Prytania, watching a double bill of The Professional and Clueless.
What can I say? Other than, "Never bet against Drew Brees after two sub-par weeks." If there's a definition of "superhuman" in the dictionary, the first entry would say "See under: Drew Brees." The second would say: "See under: Marques Colston." And the third would say: See under: "oh, f#%$ it, just look up 'New Orleans Saints.'"
In all seriousness—and at the risk of committing the same cockiness I called a Giants fan out for—this may be one of the best teams I've ever seen. So far, they look 49ers good. They look Patriots good. Their offense is unstoppable, and their defense plays like hungry wolves. The game should never have been this close, but for a bullshit call on Vilma and a garbage-time touchdown. The only thing that kept New York in the game during the first half was the kick return prowess of Domenik Hixon. Other than that, to quote Antonio Pierce after the Giants' game against Oakland: "it was like a scrimmage." That's how much the Saints dominated. (And for the Giants fans who may be reading this, please understand: I am as amazed by it all as you must be. Just in a much happier way.)
Check this out: Pierre Thomas had a 4.8 rushing average. Colston caught 8 passes for 166 yards. (Who was covering him? Anybody? Anybody? Beuller?) And Drew Brees...I predicted he'd have a passer rating above 90, say somewhere around 95.9. Instead, that's how much higher than Eli's his rating was. People are going to start saying "Brady is playing like Drew Brees today."
And the defense? They kept the Giants befuddled and bewildered and behind the entire length of the game. Though the stats won't show it, Greer and Porter were amazing. They may be the best tandem of cornerbacks in the league. (Yes, I said that. The best. In the league. Cornerbacks.) Roman Harper played lights out. And even though they rarely got to Eli, the pressure on almost every pass play looked like a jailbreak. Gregg Williams said when he came to New Orleans that he wasn't a savior. Well, saviors apparently lie like rugs.
Here, in no particular order, are my still starry-eyed observations on this fantastic win:
• Reggie was kind of quiet today, but had a respectable game. One bad loss on a running play; other than that, he ran well: one nifty touchdown, and an impressively tough run up the middle for a first.
• Mike Bell didn't rush for all that much; but he runs harder than just about any running back I've ever seen. I can't recall any other rusher who leads with his head so much. He looked like a bighorn sheep on every play.
• If Colston wasn't The Man, Lance Moore would be. He was awesome in the first drive.
• Drew Brees was hitting on all cylinders today, including the one labeled "luck." Several of his passes, especially early, looked forced into good coverage. But they were caught nevertheless.
• The officiating wasn't great, wasn't terrible. I predicted Darren Sharper would have an interception, and I maintain I was right, because the roughing the passer call against Vilma was a perfectly clean hit. But it evened out in the end: for instance, Roman Harper absolutely mugged Hakeem Nicks and wasn't called for it. And I didn't see any interference against Colston in the second quarter.
• Courtney Roby is no better a return man than Pierre Thomas was. Our kick return and punt return units have been the weakest parts of the team by far this year.
• Tom Brady threw five TD passes in one quarter against Tennessee. The Saints probably won't even lead the sports news tonight.
Nevertheless...Drew Brees is a bawcock, and a heart of gold, a lad of life, an imp of fame, of parents good, of fist most valiant. I kiss his dirty shoe.