I’ll say this.
The way the Saints have varied how they’ve won games this year gives the impression they have an assortment of multi-purpose cleaners under the kitchen cabinet for those tough stains that end up on their Louisiana boot,
For the second week in a row, New Orleans whipped out the S.O.S pads expecting a gritty matchup against a very good defensive team allowing a measly 36% conversion rate on 3rd down - Best in the league.
Sean Payton made it clear that staying ahead of the chains early would be integral to mitigating the Vikings best asset.
“My concern right now’s the defensive ends and the first down (and) third down defense, all of the things that are right here in front of us this week.
New Orleans went 4 of 9 on 3rd down, which doesn’t look like much when you write it that way, but when you point out that it equals a 44% success rate, eclipsing the Vikings season average, it brings things in to focus. Combine that with 0 sacks and only two hits on 23 dropbacks for Drew Brees, and you have a gameplan that was executed well enough to overcome losing the time of possession battle and only 150 yards through the air.
Fact is, #9 having a huge game through the air was never a necessity for this game-plan to work.
Nope, this one was always going to be about the performance of Dennis Allen and the defense versus the Kirk Cousins led John DeFilippo offense, especially following the midweek trade for Eli Apple to bolster the secondary.
The blitzes, calls, and execution were much improved, and even though it’s hidden beneath the fact that Kirk Cousins had over 400 yards through the air, what we witnessed Sunday was the defense we expected to see up to this point.
A defensive line with the most draft capital delivered in a big way and combined for 4 sacks, 9 hits, 2 pass deflections and 2 tackles for loss. The linebackers were again consistent and chipped in with 19 tackles and a pass deflection and then the secondary topped it off with a forced fumble (though Williams wasn’t credited), a fumble recovery, an INT, and 4 pass deflections.
Dennis Allen looked as confident as a playcaller as he’s looked all season following the acquisition of Eli Apple, and the execution from the players was on point. The double A gap blitzes/fake blitzes were well timed and below is an example of how well the players disguised, as the sack Sheldon Rankins gets is possible because of the 1 on 1 he saw.
This doesn’t happen if the linebackers aren’t showing blitz and forcing the guards to account for them, and it definitely doesn’t happen if Allen doesn’t install that look during the week.
Haters will say P.J. Williams played horribly, and if it wasn’t for the Vikings miscues (missed extra point, Stefon Diggs not finishing his route, and a lucky fumble) this would surely be a different game.
No, it wouldn’t.
See, I knew that Mike Zimmer knew that this Saints team is a different monster the moment he challenged the Michael Thomas sideline completion on only the third play of the game. This was a coach that knew he’d need every little advantage he could get to win this game....AT HOME.
It was precisely the same level of respect that Ravens HC John Harbaugh displayed a week prior when he ended up out of challenges before I could finish spreading the mayo on my game-day sandwich.
Heck, before the game started the Vikings had played the Minnesota Miracle video three (3) times on their Jumbotron.
In the end, none of the above mattered as the Saints went into one of the tougher venues to play and thoroughly beat up on one of the most physical teams (albeit a weakened one) in the NFC. The victory over the Vikings was their fourth road win of the season and get this, all four wins were against division leaders. These Saints are beating up on pretty good teams, and Sunday’s win felt comparable to their Week 4 win versus the Panthers last year. It was the moment you could see defense develop a swagger, and I do believe what we saw against the Vikings will carry over.
You see that guy who just jumped out of the stands buck naked and is making a mad dash across the stadium? That’s the Saints running around the NFC making their best teams look average at best Who Dat!