When your offense puts up 49 points and gains 577 yards, a lot of people need to be playing well. Needless to say the grades are going to be good all around. Very, very good.
Quite simply the Saints did whatever they wanted against the Giants. I feel like in the Payton era we've seen maybe four times a season where the offense fires on all cylinders and cannot be stopped at all. This was one of those nights. Drew Brees led the troops with yet another masterful performance. Make the jump for the grades.
Giants vs Saints coverage
Giants vs Saints boxscoreDrew Brees: A+ (3.36) I realize we're splitting hairs here but one of the toughest grades was deciding between an A and an A+ for Brees. He said there were some throws he'd like back, and he's right. Two in particular, a hook route over the middle to Henderson and an out route to Sproles were jumped and should have been intercepted. He also overthrew some seam routes a few times in this game. My initial thought was 24 out of 38 is too low of a completion percentage for an A+. But then I thought about every time he missed a throw and he'd come back on the very next play and gash the Giants all the same. His play wasn't totally perfect, but the end result was. Plus, he gets the boost for two reasons: the 8 yard touchdown run/juke move/faux dunk, and the two sacks he escaped on the same play before getting a first down passing to Thomas. Brees' strength doesn't get nearly enough credit but his core and balance is as good as any athlete out there and that play proves it. I also want to commend him for a pass he threw where he was getting hit and he managed to fire a 15 yard skinny post into Henderson for a first down. He didn't have his feet set, he was off balance and he was getting hit on that play, and Henderson was open but coverage was tight. For him to fit the ball in that window was shocking given the duress he was under. Again, his strength for his size is superhuman, and I don't think enough people respect Brees for the ridiculous arm strength he has. He finished 24-38 for 363 yards, 4 touchdowns, no turnovers, and a touchdown run. When he plays like that the Saints cannot be beat.
Mark Ingram: B+ (2.56) A nice stat day for him as he finished with 80 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown, though his 35 yard TD run boosts those numbers immensely as it came late in garbage time. Still, he ran hard in between the tackles and was particularly good in short yardage situations. He was also helpful in the passing game with 2 receptions for 14 yards.
Pierre Thomas: A (3.06) I feel like give the exact same write up for PT every single week. "He did the most of his chances but should have gotten more touches". Stop me if you've heard it before. I'm not going to even bother griping over this one again. I just don't understand the pitch count. He's clearly the best back on the team and should see the ball more. He had 8 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, and 3 catches for 47 yards. That's 110 yards on 11 touches!!
Darren Sproles: B+ (3.15) I don't love his decision to take out some of those kickoff returns but neither came back to really bite him. He ripped off a couple big runs but was neutralized on the others. I feel like his carries are always either hit or miss. He never has a "pretty good" run. He's either stopped or he breaks one. He had 8 carries for a healthy 54 yards, and 2 catches for 28 yards.
Jed Collins: A- (3.00) His blocking was exceptional. Some of the back end seal jobs he did on misdirection runs in particular was amazingly good. He was physical in the trenches and brutal off the edge. Very good performance.
Marques Colston: B- (3.00) He had 3 catches for 78 yards including a huge 50 yarder late in the first half that helped set up the 21-3 lead. He wasn't used as much as usual but he made his catches count. He did have a horrible drop on a crossing route right in his hands wide open that could have gone for a nice gain.
Lance Moore: A (3.03) He had 5 receptions for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns. His first TD was reminiscent of the 2 point Super Bowl play, where he caught the ball on an out route and showed terrific athleticism getting to the goal line. He made big plays and moved the chains.
Devery Henderson: B+ (2.36) He was a big factor in the offense this week. The Giants often left him in single or zone coverage and Brees did a great job finding him. This wasn't an explosive game for Devery, who filled the role of a possession guy in this one. It was great to see him involved and he did a fantastic job catching the ball securely and moving the chains. He had 5 catches for 67 yards.
Robert Meachem: C- (2.30) He was a willing blocker but he was never even targeted on passing plays. A complete afterthought in the gameplan this week. It's hard to punish him too much grade wise when he wasn't given a chance, but the fact remains this has been a largely soft and disappointing season for him.
Jimmy Graham: A- (3.24) Tough to grade his performance. On the fake field goal, he did a great job shedding the first tackle but a poor job recognizing where the sticks were and making that play. He's athletic enough to stretch out and get that first down. He finished with 5 catches for 84 yards and 2 touchdowns and was his usual explosive receiving self. He was guilty of offensive pass interference, and he still has areas of his game he needs to clean up. He's quickly becoming the best receiving tight end in the NFL, though.
John Gilmore: B+ (2.15) Fantastic job blocking off the edge and bringing a physical presence to the running game.
Jermon Bushrod: B+ (2.70) He was one of the best blockers on the team on running plays. Numerous times he got off the edge and threw devastating lead blocks for Sproles on his big runs and Ingram on his touchdown run, among others. He was helped by the ankle injury to Osi Umenyiora who gave Bushrod trouble before he left. Bushrod had a bad sequence where he had a false start, then got beat leading to Brees getting a big hit. Still, an overall solid showing especially on the ground. He continues to have a very respectable season.
Carl Nicks: A+ (2.88) He dominated. Pure and simple. A textbook game top to bottom. The Giants were completely abused by Nicks. The push he got off the line of scrimmage on every single play was humbling. He is an animal. This is the second A+ he's gotten in 2 weeks. On one play the Saints recognized a overload blitz to the right and the entire line shifted magically to contain it giving Brees ample time, then they brought a delayed blitzer from the backside edge and Nicks rotated over to completely nullify it. It's not that he's just strong and powerful, he's smart and he moves well. A truly memorable night for Nicks.
Brian de la Puente: A- (2.63) Great showing. He pulled well, created huge lanes up the middle for the runners, and gave Brees a mostly clean pocket. The Saints may have their center of the future.
Jahri Evans: B (3.15) The Giants had exotic rushes and for the most part the line rotated perfectly, with the possible exception of Evans. At times he looked confused on lost by the packages. Clearly the Giants had no interest in attacking him, but I do think Evans could have done a better job of recognizing that and rotating over to the right edge to help Strief. Most of the big running plays were off the left side, but he did a decent job in run blocking.
Zach Strief: B+ (2.89) A fantastic job containing Justin Tuck. Tuck had two knock downs, but he was always a step way too late getting to Brees. I also love how Strief is always in the middle of the pile pushing his teammates forward, picking them up, getting Giant players away from Jimmy Graham while he's on the ground... He's just a guy you can tell that's a great teammate. He's a throwback player that plays the game the right way. He reminds me of Stinchcomb in that way. Since returning from his knee injury his play has been outstanding.
Pat McQuistan: C+ (1.89) Came in numerous times as the extra blocker and he did fine, although he did need to get redirected by Brees on where he lined up twice, probably because he's still getting used to a weird position and the offense in general.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Drew Brees