Today's game was a tale of two halves. Though it might not have reflected so much on the scoreboard, the Saints were in control of the game throughout the first half. But it was the Bengals who dominated after halftime, eventually taking the lead late in the fourth quarter thanks to a Chad Ochocinco awakening.
And while penalties were a killer for the Saints today - 11 penalties for 100 yards - it was their ability to draw an offsides penalty from the Bengals in the red zone with under a minute to play. Credit Payton with genius playcalling and the offense with great showmanship. I doubt they were ever going to snap that ball.
Great games for Chris Ivory, Robert Meachem, Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Jonathan Vilma and Roman Harper.
Make the jump for just a few quick bullet-point notes and stats from the game. Be sure to listen to our live post-game podcast at 4:30 CST and hang out in our Atlanta @ Tampa Bay open thread while you watch that crucial NFC South matchup.
- Reggie Bush looked markedly better running the football and more confident this week. Good sign there. Still nothing spectacular, though he wasn't given much opportunity.
- With a 52-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham in the 2nd quarter Drew Brees became the Saints all-time leading passer with 21,789 yards.
- Chris Ivory had another superb game. Glad I started him on my fantasy football team. And while I hate to admit it, I think Larry Holder actually said it best in a tweet during today's game:
Chris Ivory's gain is Pierre Thomas' ticket out of town next season.
- "Hey Jahri, here's an ass-load of money, making you the highest paid offensive guard in the history of the NFL. Can you please start leading the league in costly holding penalties? Thanks, that'd be great."
- The entire offensive line should be on Santa's naughty list and getting coal in their stocking this Christmas. Not only was Jahri a liability but Carl Nicks took a holding penalty and Jonathan Goodwin was flagged for the rare snap infraction.
- The Saints offense was abysmal on 3rd down (1/8 - 12%).
- Hartley was again perfect. Things are looking better for the kicking game. I'm feeling slightly more confident.
- Remember when the Saints offense just couldn't put together a big play? Yeah, they don't have that problem anymore. High five!
- Speaking of high fives, this win makes five in a row for the Black & Gold.
- For the love of all things holy, can somebody please tell John Lynch how to properly pronounce New Orleans. My ears are still bleeding. It really hurts.
- Check out this picture of Gregg Williams doing the "suck it" gesture, stolen from Larry Holder's Twitter account...
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS|
|FG||G.Hartley 48 yd. Field Goal (8-65, 4:21)
|FG||C.Stitser 29 yd. Field Goal (13-42, 7:08)
|TD||C.Ivory 55 yd. run (G.Hartley kick) (3-68, 1:01)
|FG||C.Stitser 23 yd. Field Goal (4-50, 2:21)
|FG||G.Hartley 24 yd. Field Goal (11-88, 3:15)
|TD||C.Ivory 1 yd. run (G.Hartley kick) (11-66, 5:54)
|TD||T.Owens 5 yd. pass from C.Palmer(kick failed, wr) (9-60, 5:12)
|TD||C.Benson 1 yd. run (C.Stitser kick) (7-46, 3:36)
|TD||R.Meachem 52 yd. pass from D.Brees(G.Hartley kick) (3-69, 1:25)
|TD||C.Benson 4 yd. run (C.Palmer-J.Gresham pass) (8-59, 4:05)
|FG||C.Stitser 47 yd. Field Goal (5-15, 1:38)|
|TD||M.Colston 3 yd. pass from D.Brees (G.Hartley kick) (7-68, 3:54)|
|Total First Downs||19||Total First Downs||21|
|By Rushing||8||By Rushing||7|
|By Passing||10||By Passing||11|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||1/8 - 12%||Third Down Efficiency||5/14 - 35%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||0/0 - 0%||Fourth Down Efficiency||2/3 - 66%|
|Total Net Yards||436||Total Net Yards||311|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||53||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||62|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||8.2||Average Gain per Offensive Play||5.0|
|Net Yards Rushing||146||Net Yards Rushing||96|
|Total Rushing Plays||22||Total Rushing Plays||26|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||6.6||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.7|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||2--3||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||2--5|
|Net Yards Passing||290||Net Yards Passing||215|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||2 - 23||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||3 - 34|
|Gross Yards Passing||313||Gross Yards Passing||249|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||24 - 29 - 1||Pass Comp-Att-Int||23 - 33 - 0|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||9.4||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||6.0|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||7 - 0 - 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||7 - 0 - 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||3 - 45.3||Punts (Number-Average)||2 - 56.5|
|Net Punting Average||35.3||Net Punting Average||55.5|
|FGs Blocked - PATs Blocked||0 - 0||FGs Blocked - PATs Blocked||0 - 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||2||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||37|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||1 - 2||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||2 - 30|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||7 - 116||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||6 - 179|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||0 - 0||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||1 - 7|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||11 - 100||Penalties (Number-Yards)||7 - 43|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||1 - 0||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||1 - 0|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||4 - 4||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||2 - 3|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||4 - 4||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||1 - 2|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 - 0||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||1 - 1|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||2 - 2||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||3 - 3|
|Red Zone Efficiency||2/3 - 66%||Red Zone Efficiency||3/6 - 50%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||2/2 - 100%||Goal To Go Efficiency||3/4 - 75%|
|Final Score||34||Final Score||30|
|Time of Possession||27:27||Time of Possession||32:33|