On a day that saw the Saints defense meet their weekly quota for yards given up (more on that later), it was the contributions of two old timers turning back the hands of time that stood out.
Throughout the game, there were moments where Drew Brees and Benjamin Watson looked like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4, as both took their lumps while proving they could still hang athletically with the young guns in their 18th and 15th NFL seasons respectively.
The ageless Watson showing a spring in his step reminiscent of well...last year, as he hauled in 5 receptions for 71 yards on 6 targets, one of which included a magnificent diving 27-yard catch that highlighted Brees’ ball placement (Hello Rev) and trust in the former New England Patriots tight end.
This coming only five days after head coach Sean Payton called out that group saying, “We have to do better at the tight end position, that’s for sure.”
Is this better, Sean?
Watson and playoff Josh (Hill) would go on to combine for 82 yards on the day. Would you believe that’s the 6th most production the Saints have gotten from the TE position in the last 32 games or two years? Crazy!
Drew Brees, on the other hand, hopped inside a time machine and went back to 2011.
The Saints clearly relied on his arm to carry them this game, as he attempted a whopping 49 passes for 396 yards and 3 TDs. He connected with the usual suspects, as Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas combined for a ridiculous 30 targets, resulting in 25 receptions for 253 yards and a long of 35.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, Brees would go on to torch history in his own special way by casually breaking Brett Favre’s completion record with a throw to none other than Thomas. Oddly enough, it was his work with his legs that would generate the biggest excitement for Saints fans.
The goal line leap to win the game was vintage Brees and highlighted his still exceptional vertical, but the 7-yard TD run where he smashed the ‘B’ button to nimbly pirouette off two Falcons defenders before diving in for the score, possibly goes down as one of the sweetest Drew Brees moments in his decade long tenure as a Saint.
Only Steve Erwin (RIP) could deliver “a beauty” well enough to capture the essence of this play!
39 years old pic.twitter.com/QEDmBcBecg— AllSaintsConsidered.com (@AllSaintsBlog) September 23, 2018
Conversely, his counterpart Matt Ryan didn’t fare so well and became one of only 2 QBs in NFL History to ever throw for 350+ yards and 5 TDs, but still not win the game. The other is Eli Manning in 2015 — and both lost to Drew Brees.
It’s even more fitting to know that Ben Watson was on that team in 2015 too.
- Rushing three men in the red zone isn’t yielding great results. That playcall/wrinkle from DC Dennis Allen worked best when the Saints had Nick Fairley over the nose to get quick pressure. Now, it only gives QBs up to 5 seconds to find a receiver with 8 guys in coverage. Unacceptable!
- The Saints second series was all about Alvin Kamara proving he’s human. Up 7, he first failed to field the punt and lost yardage on the play, and then followed that up with not being on the same page with Brees resulting in an incomplete pass on 2nd down. Saints would punt two plays later, and the Falcons would go on to tie 7-7 — but they had momentum and could have gone up 10-0 or better.
- Marcus Davenport saved P.J. Williams from another loss on a double move, as he was beat on the play, but Matt Ryan had no time to release the ball as he found himself in the grasp of the rookie for the first sack of his NFL career
- Offensive line had an off-game penalty wise, but get a pass as the crowd noise likely had a lot to do with it.
- Wil Lutz was inches away from going full Zane Gonzalez (never go full Gonzalez) when his first field goal attempt bounced off the post before creeping its way back inside the uprights.
- Cris Carter had his gaffes, but provided amazing insight. Him chiding the ref for allowing the WR/DB to get behind him as he got caught peeking in the backfield was funny, even it did occur on a play the Saints could have been flagged on.
- The Saints at one point were confident enough to allow Alex Okafor to rush from LDE and Davenport to rush from RDE to give Cam Jordan a few snaps off. 4th Quarter Jordan with 1st Q effort is a nightmare for opposing offensive lineman.
- These Saints-Falcons rivalry games are quickly becoming known for having a pivotal special teams play take place. This time it was a blocked punt by Okafor, as he joins Steve Gleason and Michael Mauti in statue making moments.
- Michael Thomas is continuing a dominant start to his 2018 campaign by shattering a record set by Julio Jones, in his house nonetheless, with 35 catches through 3 games, most ever in NFL History.
- P.J. Williams and Ken Crawley were beat mercilessly during the game yet still found ways not to be liabilities late. Solid mental toughness gentlemen.
- Cameron Meredith‘s first catch as a Saints was a huge one that resulted in a TD
- Defense played the run marvelously, and this aided them in controlling the clock but for the third week in a row played 60+ snaps. Those numbers need to come down...brutal!
I’m running out of Nails to bite as the Saints insist on causing heart palpitations for their entire fan base through three weeks of the NFL season. The Saints defense gave up 5 TDs and to Ryan and continued to look bad in divisional play. Yet, I said this game would probably come down to whichever defense could make a key play and when the Saints needed a stop they were able to force the punt that preceded overtime
Falcons offense would never touch the ball again.