Well that one felt good, didn’t it?
It was another roller coaster of an adventure with plenty of ups and downs along the way, but while the game was far from perfect, there were far more “ups” than “downs” for the New Orleans Saints. Here are a couple that stood out.
Up: Sheldon Rankins
Big Sheldon Rankins has been playing like a man among boys all season long, but the stat sheet hadn’t quite filled out the way I’m sure he’d like.
That changed this week as Rankins came up with two huge sacks against Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings, including a monster bull rush where he practically tackled the center into the quarterback.
If Rankins can continue to build on performances like he had this week against an admittedly shaky offensive line, the Saints defensive front could get real good real fast.
Up: Timely Turnovers
With Eli Apple starting over
Billy Bando Ken Crawley, and Marshon Lattimore slowly playing like the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year, we fully expected PJ Williams to get targeted early and often in the Vikings passing attack.
Williams fell victim to Adam Thielen more often than not, but when his team needed him the most, PJ was there for a couple of big plays. First, he was there to put his helmet on the ball and force a Thielen fumble when it looked like the Vikings were about to extend their lead before halftime. Instead, Lattimore scooped up the fumble and the Saints were the team to punch it into the end zone before halftime.
Then, on the Vikings first drive in the second half, Lattimore punched the ball out of Laquon Treadwell’s hands for a big stop on fourth down, leading to a turnover on downs.
On the very next Vikings drive, there was some miscommunication between Cousins and Stefon Diggs, which led to another big play from PJ:
And there were other near-turnovers in the game as well. Marcus Williams made a great play in the end zone for a near pick late in the game, and earlier in the night, the Saints 2018 first round draft had his presence felt as well.
Up: Marcus Davenport
Marcus Davenport had himself a great game in Minnesota.
His first of two sacks on the game was originally ruled a sack-fumble, but the all was overturned on replay as the replay showed Cousins’s knee on the ground before Davenport was able to pry the ball out of the QB’s hand. On his second sack, you could see Davenport again sniffing the football, trying to bat the ball out of Cousins’s hand on the sack.
The Saints have been smart with their use of Davenport to start the season, but if he continues to make strides like this, his playing time could shoot through the roof.
Up: Wil Lutz
Sure, there were plenty of other plays or moments that could qualify as a “Down” this week, or even others that deserve an “Up,” but Wil Lutz deserves recognition here.
He nailed three deep field goals in Minnesota, one of which helped to practically seal the game as it put the Saints up by three possessions, 30-13. Lutz also nailed every extra point attempt.
Not since the days of peak-Garrett Harley have I felt this comfortable with the Saints kicking situation. ‘atta boy, Lutz.