You guys know that when I am wrong, I admit it. Earlier this season I thought the Saints would blow out the Miami Dolphins. I was wrong. Later in the year, I didn't see what all the fuss was about regarding the Saints playing the Patriots. Again, I was wrong. But after the Saints victory on Saturday afternoon over the Arizona Cardinals, I think I deserve to finally say that I was dead on balls accurate. It's an industry term.
So excuse me while I gloat a little. Was I not the one who started last week off with an article raising the possibility of Reggie being poised for a playoff push? I believe I was. Here is what I said in that post...
Maybe Payton has been purposely resting Reggie, keeping him locked away until the playoffs.
Here is what Reggie said after the game...
Our plan was to kind of get me to the postseason and make plays
Damn, I'm good! I thought I also did pretty well with my five keys to the game just before kickoff:
- Start off fast - Check
- Get pressure and rattle Warner - Check
- Don't turn the ball over - Check
- Match up well with offensive weapons - Pretty good
- Crowd needs to be 12th man - Check
And that's exactly what we saw from the Saints last night. This game had the exact same look and feel as many of those we watched in September and October, when the Saints could do no wrong and were the most dangerous team in the league. I loved those times; I'm glad they're back. The timing couldn't be more perfect.
- I didn't think the crowd was too wild during the walk up to the dome and before the game. Certainly not like it was before the Patriots game. It seemed like a lot of fans arrived early.
- There were definitely more McAllister jerseys at the game than normal since he's been released. No surprise there.
- The blackout was in effect but ineffective. All the black just gets lost in the Dome and honestly I couldn't tell much of a difference between Saturday nights crowd and a regular one. In the future, I think a whiteout or goldout would be more effective.
- I'm sorry to be such a Debbie Downer here but I've got to admit that I think the Deuce McAllister introduction was slightly anti-climactic as well. They played a cool video tribute to Deuce then introduced him and then the rest of the team as a unit. The Saints could have milked it much more. My suggestion would have been to introduce the offense player by player like normal then play the tribute video followed by Deuce's introduction last. Would have been much better.
- Speaking of Deuce, why were some people chanting "Deeeeeeeuuuuuuccceee!" when the Saints offense would get deep in the red zone? He wasn't even dressed people!
- I've got to give credit to the crowd, though, because after Hightower ran for the score on the first play from scrimmage they got right back up and didn't let it effect them. Fortunately, the Saints offense was able to strike right back which obviously helped. Honestly, giving up big gains on the ground early in the game is becoming status quo and usually means good things for the Saints the rest of the game.
- I don't think I sat down the entire first quarter, which felt like an eternity by the way.
- Brees played great as usual though not his best performance; that was probably the Patriots game. It looked as though he overthrew a few of his receivers. Just think...they could have scored more points.
- Not many people have talked about it but let's give some love to the offensive line. They played awesome. The running backs had holes and Brees never hit the ground. A perfect day in my opinion, minus a penalty or two.
- I don't know about you but I feel Lynell Hamilton is doing a great job in his role as a third running back. Mike Bell is obviously out of gas this year but I hope to see him next season and I thank him for his service in 2009.
- When I originally wrote about Reggie being poised for a playoff breakout, I talked briefly about his future with the Saints, his contract and the inevitable uncapped season in 2010. An impressive playoff tear could certainly effect his future and this game was obviously a step in that direction. I can't predict whether the Saints would try to trade him or renegotiate a lower contract but I do think this performance eliminates the minute possibility that the Saints would simply cut him. If this spectacular play continues, his stock will never be higher and he'll look much more attractive to other teams this off-season.
- After looking at the stats, I can't believe Colston only had six catches. It felt like Drew was going to Marques on nearly every play.
- Sharpers bobbling interception occurred right in front of me and I still can't believe he came up with it. What a beautiful play to be wasted and called back because of some stupid ticky tacky penalty call.
- Where was Robert Meachem? Drew overthrew him on one play and handed it off to him on another but that was it. Is Payton saving him up for next week? I'm beginning to wonder if coach has a pre-determined rotation of which players he's going to use during any given game. That way everyone stays rested and ready to go when it's their turn. This week it's Colston, Henderson and Shockey. Next week it's Meachem, Moore and Thomas. Brilliant.
- Some people have made mention of Payton's poor clock management, however, and I have got to agree. Late in the first half with about three minutes remaining (just an estimate) the Saints had the ball in the red zone. Instead of using up as much time as possible in the half by simply running the ball and eating up play clock with longer huddles, the Saints continued to go for the jugular by passing. Why try to score so quickly and give your opponent back the ball and a chance to score when you can take your time and still get your points? In this particular situation the Saints wound up getting called for a bunch of penalties and taking more time than they had probably planned but their intent was obvious. I know some people like that aggressive approach but I just don't think it's smart football. Not with a decent lead.
- Morstead was sick. His 66-yard punt was unbelievable and I truly believe it would have hit the new video screen at Cowboy Stadium. You should also know that Morstead is always kicking balls into the net or practicing snap receptions on the sidelines. Always.
- Reggie called for a fair catch on his final punt return because he was feeling pressure from an Arizona player that Randall Gay was blocking. After the play Gay yelled at Bush, assuring him that he had his man blocked and Bush could have run with it safely. Gay was right.