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New Orleans Saints 26 @ Atlanta Falcons 23: Lucky Number Thirteen

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That was fast...literally. The game took less than three hours to complete and just like that, the Saints have set a franchise record for total number of victories in a season and secured a first round bye in the playoffs. We can officially deem this the best Saints regular season in history. No matter how hard they tried to give this game away.

Drew Brees and the offense looked splendid as usual, moving the ball at will. As is becoming the theme late in the season, the defense left a little to be desired and is still showing the effects of injury.

I don't have anything inspirational to write. This victory makes me feel lukewarm. How much longer can the team play like this and expect to win? I should be happier. Just read the bullets.

Bullets!

  • Here we go again with Reggie. I'm sure today's game will ignite all of the usual talk. I always like to refer to the words of Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden on this one..."Bush, a Heisman winner and second overall pick, has a great knack for making an otherworldly play just when it seems appropriate to question his production in relation to his pedigree." He looked solid out there and had he been given the opportunity, probably could have done more. For those of you who think he doesn't get used enough, that might be fair but I think he should just be considered a talented weapon in a healthy rotation of a three-man backfield, operating much the same was as the receivers.
  • Speaking of not living up to their pedigree...it seems definitely appropriate to question Charles Grant's production in the second half of this season. He had one tackle today and a stupid, costly personal foul penalty. What's worse is that Grant also seems to lack a great knack for making an otherworldly play, which begs the question, "What the hell is he doing on the field?" We always hear talk from the coaches about putting the best guys on the field and benching starters, regardless of their contracts. I'm not seeing that because right now I feel there are hungrier players on the roster while Charles Grant is still out there dogging it. Charles Grant is officially on notice. So are the coaches.
  • I need to get myself a Thomas Morstead jersey because he's been one of the most consistent players on the team. He was nailing his kickoffs deep into the end zone all day. Do they even sell Morstead jerseys?
  • The penalties today were abundant. Some were called that shouldn't have been. Some weren't called that should have. Some favored the Saints. Some favored the Falcons. Some were just downright stupid. Still, the world spins on.
  • How about the offensive line? Great effort by all of them today. Drew dropped back to pass 40 times and never took a hit. No need to question whether to rest Brees if we know he isn't going to be in harms way.
  • Should we be happy or angry about what we saw from Garrett Hartley today? He made all three of his field goals, which wound up being crucial., but he also missed an inexcusable extra point which could have been costly. I think I'm okay with it.
  • While we're on the topic of inexcusable...what the hell was Payton thinking? Payton's smart timeout in overtime last week practically won the game for the Saints. This week he nearly lost the game with the fake field goal late in the game. I mean, really?!? Really!?! Take the three points and force Atlanta to score a touchdown. End of story.
  • That being said, Brunell could have easily made Payton look like a genius had he thrown the ball earlier instead of holding on to it too long.
  • Probably the worst game I've seen from Darren Sharper so far this season. He was left in single coverage often (on the double corner "Chuckie" blitz) and got beat a couple of times, one I believe was on a double move by the receiver, a play very similar to the one the Saints had so much success with last week against Washington.
  • Give some credit to Chris Redman who did a great job filling in for Matt Ryan and had a hell of a game. Definitely better than I was expecting. Also give credit to the Saints beleaguered secondary who helped make him look that way.
  • As bad as the Saints defense continues to look they came up big when they needed to, particularly their fearless leader, Jonathan Vilma. Vilma came up huge with the interception over the middle late in the game, the days only turnover and a crucial one at that. Then, on the second most crucial play of the game it was Vilma coming up big again with a tackle and a stop on a fourth and short dump pass.
  • Just as the Saints got lucky last week with Suisham's missed field goal, they again got really lucky with the spot that the referees gave Marques Colston on his second down reception. Wasn't even close. Thank your lucky stars.
  • I have ragged on Randall Gay a lot these past two seasons but I am always willing to applaud as well. Randall Gay did a pretty good job filling in as a starter today. Certainly better than I expected. Randall had a nice pass breakup and also sniffed out the wildcat play on first down late in the game, making a 12-yard tackle for a loss. He's no Jabari Greer or Tracy Porter but for today, he was just good enough.
  • The Saints were very solid on third down today, completing 66%.
  • Did anyone notice Aaron Stecker return a kickoff?
  • Lynell Hamilton looked good in the little work he received today.
  • Congratulations to Drew Brees for notching his 120th career touchdown pass as a Saint, now tied with Aaron Brooks.

Here is the roll call. Great work guys,

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Jee 72
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metryman 41
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HansDat 25
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NOSFan4Life 23
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