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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Drew Brees, referees, and third down Saints defense

We know it wasn’t all awesome in Week 1, but the Saints still got the win.

Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

After a heart-stopping game, the good, the bad, and the ugly are broken down on a Saints season opening victory.

What a game! Every fan in the Superdome held their breath as Deshaun Watson took two completions to score a touchdown to get a go-ahead score in the final minute. All were hoping the Saints defense could prevent a devastating loss. Instead, the Superdome had to take one more deep breath as Drew Brees marched his team down the field to help secure the game-winning field goal.

Even with the vintage game-winning drive, and then ultimately the first win on the season opener in six years, not everything went to plan. While Drew Brees looked great (aside from an early interception), the referees seemed determined to undermine the Saints plans, while the Saints’ third down defense was downright awful.

Every football fan knows that if you give Drew Brees 37-seconds and a timeout, magic is bound to happen. On Monday night, it did, but the game was kept in hand long before Brees had to lead the march to victory. Drew Brees threw for 370 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one boneheaded interception. His percentage completion was a characteristic 74.4-percent.

Despite bad play calling in key situations, Brees regularly put the team in a position to find success. Luckily his play, as well as the rest of the offense could do just enough to earn the victory.

Here is the fun part, the bad part of this game. Over eight months have passed since the infamous “no-call”. The referees may have short term memory when it comes to their mistakes, but the city of New Orleans surely doesn’t. Fans dressed up as referees in Monday’s game as a protest, and the referees did not disappoint.

The most notable mistake the referees made in Monday’s game against the Texans had to be the poor decision to run the clock down 10 seconds to 16 seconds when there clearly should have been 31 seconds left in the first half after a Michael Thomas first down. On top of this, the officiating crew seemingly held a Saints’ timeout hostage.

Finally, the UGLY. The Saints third down defense is the culprit this week. Overall, the defense played poorly from stopping the run all the way to the defensive backs. However, the third down defense was by far the worst.

The Texans converted 7-of-13 of their third downs on the evening. Every successful conversion seemingly went for a huge chunk of yardage while the Saints’ defense did little to nothing to stop the Texans and get the ball back in the hands of the offense. The outcome of the game most likely would not have had to come down the heroics of Brees and Wil Lutz had the defense stopped the Texans on third down.

The Saints defense should bounce back in the next few weeks, but will face another challenge as the Saints face the Los Angeles Rams next week. It will take a better showing from all facets of this team to achieve victory next week.