Well that was an exciting game, at least. 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: Drew Brees
After back-to-back stinkers of games, Saints QB Drew Brees was able to have an excellent bounce back game with 389 yards and 4 TDs (on 37 of 48 passing). Brees was able to spread the ball around, with nine different players getting a reception in the game. Brees was hit a handful of times, including three sacks, but ended the day without throwing a single interception (after six in the past two games).
Up: Rushing Defense
David Johnson, arguably the top back in the NFL right now, was held to merely 53 yards on the ground. Granted, he also punched it into the endzone twice on the ground, but the Saints were able to keep Johnson’s runs in front of them (for the most part). The Saints defense did give up a big run to Kerwynn Williams, but as that run came out of the wildcat, I’m not counting it as a straight knock against the run defense. The Saints had been average against the run thus far this season - with “average” being a huge improvement from last year - and were able to continue their performance against an explosive back in Johnson.
Down: Pass Defense
Yes, the Saints were able to keep David Johnson under 100 rushing yards, but he still managed another game of over 100 total yards from scrimmage when you include his 50+ yards in the air. Cardinals QB Carson Palmer torched the Saints secondary, completing 70% of his passes for 318 yards and 2 TDs. His completion percentage and QBR (89.4 to 78.8) were both higher than Drew Brees’s in this game. There were numerous moments of blown coverage, poor pass defense, and confusion in the secondary. S Kenny Vaccaro and CB Delvin Breaux were absent from this game (the former due to suspension and the latter with an injury), and their absence was felt.
Up: Saints Running Game
Mark Ingram had an emotional outburst when he wasn’t used to push the ball over the goal line late in the game, but former-Cardinal Tim Hightower was able to get the job done twice. The Saints were committed to the run all game (even obnoxiously so on a 3rd and long on their first drive in the game when the Saints ran a draw play deep in Arizona territory). As a unit, the Saints had 130 yards on the ground with Hightower’s two rushing TDs. Overall, a strong performance.