Someone said: “Numbers Never Lie.” And that was a lie, because sometimes numbers do lie. But they don’t lie all the time, and that’s the truth.
In what was perhaps their best offensive game of the season, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-24 on Sunday afternoon to move to 4-2, a half-game behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Bucs (5-2). New Orleans converted a remarkable 12-of-14 third down attempts (86%), ran up 415 yards on Carolina, with 138 yards of those on the ground, and a juicy 4.8 yard-per-rush average. Drew Brees threw the ball downfield and had a ho-hum 80.6% completion rate, noodle arm an all. Alvin Kamara was his MVP-candidate self, and the Saints saw the emergence of a young wide receiver in rookie Marquez Callaway, one that makes the Who Dat Nation salivate at the prospect of what Sean Payton could turn him into as he matures as an NFL player.
What numbers popped off the screen from this latest October victory for the Saints? Continue reading.
Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees ended the game on Sunday being the first quarterback ever to reach at least 7,000 pass completions in the NFL. Brees accomplished that feat having attempted 10,373 passes in his NFL career (can you blame him if his arm is a little lethargic sometimes?). Brees has a 67.7% career completion rate to this point, which is just insanely accurate, especially with some many opportunities to fail by passing so much. For perspective about Brees’ accuracy, Tom Brady is just 117 pass attempts behind Brees with 10,256, and yet he is 468 completions behind Brees. And before you bring up the fact that Brees has been using a lot of dink-and-dunk in Sean Payton’s offense, and that is it thus easier to complete more passes, remember that Brady played in Josh McDaniels’ offense in New England, in which he was a master dink-and-dunker himself with the likes of Dion Lewis, James White or Julian Edelman. Brees will retire someday, and I am convinced that he will have a full room at the Hall-of-Fame dedicated solely to all his record. As a football player, the man is simply amazing.
Are you in need of at least 100 all-purpose yards for Thanksgiving? I give you Alvin Kamara. Some players get paid and get complacent. Alvin Kamara is playing with an enthusiasm that is infectious right now. He got paid, and it’s as if a weight got lifted off his shoulders (plus being healthy helps). On Sunday against the Panthers, Kamara pointed his finger in the direction of every first down he gained like it was a little win. He got tackled after a long run or catch and got up smiling, as if telling his defender: good job, but I still got you for 15. Right now, the Saints’ running back is on a whole different level, one reminiscing of his first two years in the league, when he took the NFL by storm. Kamara rushed for 83 yards against Carolina, but what really counts here is that he did it while averaging 6.9 yards per rush. He also caught eight passes, on eight targets (no big deal) for 65 yards. These 148 all-purpose yards do not even consider the number of plays where he is used as a decoy to draw the defense away from the player(s) designed to get the ball. Can you say: MVP?
As I have said before, until he misses, Saints kicker Wil Lutz will appear in this piece. What’s better than 100%? Well, nothing is. It’s only six games, but Lutz is 11-for-11 on field goal attempts, and 21-for 21 on extra point attempts. Lutz has made the only 50-plus yard field goal he has attempted so far this year. He is 4-for-4 on field goals between 40 and 49 yards, 4-for-4 between 30 and 39 yards and 2-for-2 between 20 and 29 yards. He has yet to attempt a field goal shorter than 20 yards this season. Right now, the very best kicker in the National Football League wears black and gold on Sunday and no, we are not talking about those black and yellow uniforms in Pittsburgh.
The number of sacks by Marcus Davenport in 2020. In his second game back after missing the first four games of the season, Marcus Davenport recorded only two tackles. However, one of them was a sack of Teddy Bridgewater that drastically changed the complexion of the game. Davenport sacked Bridgewater for an 8-yard loss at the Saints’ 47-yard line just as the Panthers were trying to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter while trailing 27-24. Had he sacked Bridgewater for a 6-yard loss, Carolina would have likely tied the game: kicker Joey Slye’s 65-yard attempt grazed the horizontal bar of the goal post, giving the Saints the ball and the opportunity to run out the clock, which New Orleans did. But Davenport’s first sack of the season couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Here’s to the Saints’ third-year defensive end staying healthy and providing the team with more game-changing plays as the season progresses.
Earlier in this piece, I spoke about how the Saints might have played their best offensive game of the year on Sunday against the Panthers. Well, if you ask punter Thomas Morstead if they did, he would probably agree; apart from holding on field goals and extra point attempts, Morstead did little to nothing, as the Saints never punted. Well, when you’re 12-of-14 on third down, it figures. The two times New Orleans did not convert on third down, they were close enough to attempt field goals of 41 and 43 yards, which Wil Lutz made. To echo the famous slogan of former Saints great Steve Gleason: #NeverPunt.