Whew. Another crazy ride of a game. In what was another roller-coaster of a game with plenty of ups and downs along the way, here are a couple that stood out.
Up: Wil Lutz
Maybe I’m alone in this, but for the first time in a while I actually feel comfortable with the Kicking situation in New Orleans. Granted, I still hold my breath a little on field goals and watch for a block, but that’s more of the special teams scheme than on Lutz himself.
Whether in distance or accuracy, I actually am developing a fair amount of faith in the young Kicker and hope he continues to progress as the season goes. Sean Payton has already shown the faith he has in Lutz, not hesitating to bring him out for 50+ yard field goals in tight situations, and Lutz has rewarded that faith thus far.
Up: Nate Stupar
Stupar originally signed this offseason to be a primarily Special Teams player, who would occasionally help out in rotation in the Linebacking corps. Fast forward to Week 8, and he’s one of the most consistent players on the Saints defense. He came down with a huge interception of Russell Wilson (only the second INT off Wilson this season) that was a momentum-changing point of the game.
He constantly is around the ball, making tackles in the middle of the field and at the line of scrimmage. He has shown an adequate ability to defend both the run and the pass, and is one of few Saints linebackers I feel comfortable with moving forward.
Again, all of this from a guy who was forced into this role due to injuries and the less-than-spectacular play of other LBs around him (shoutout to Stephone Anthony).
Along that same mentality of LB Nate Stupar stepping up in a big way, there were plenty of Saints players (on both sides of the ball) who made big plays in key situations who weren’t starters at the beginning of the season. Here are a few:
RB Tim Hightower - Hightower couldn’t punch it into the endzone on numerous attempts at goal-to-go from the one yard line, but was the workhorse back for the Saints all game after Ingram was benched.
LB Craig Robertson - Robertson is another LB who is getting more playing time than he probably expected and is exceeding expectations. He finished the game with 9 total tackles.
CB B.W. Webb - Laugh all you want, but Webb made a great play to end the game, keeping his eyes on the ball and being aware of his placement in the endzone. A defensive pass interference call would’ve most likely ended the game in Seattle’s favor.
Down: Mark Ingram’s second turnover
Turnovers and ball security are a quick way to get into Coach Sean Payton’s doghouse, and Mark Ingram has learned just that. For the second week in a row, the veteran Running Back coughed up a fumble in a costly situation. Last week, it was in a drive to win the game; this week, it was the opening drive of the game.
Ingram was then benched for the rest of the game last week, basically put in time out to think about what he’s done. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get the bulk and the start of the carries next week against San Francisco, but he’s another fumble away from an extended ride on the pine.