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 this very piece last week, I was waxing poetic about the 2020 New Orleans Saints being a gritty team that doesn’t need to beat anyone by 30, grinds out wins and is lying in wait until the time is right, to show just how good they are. Well, we did not have to wait much longer did we? This past Sunday night, the Saints reminded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the whole NFL just how lethal they can be when they play their best brand of football. The Saints dissected the Bucs in such ruthless fashion, dismantling what had been the number one defense in the NFL to the tune of 38 points and they could have named their score. New Orleans’ defense made an attack comprised of Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette, look like a high school offense.
Now at 6-2, the Saints are not only atop the NFC South, they are atop the entire NFC exactly midway through the regular season, something that few would have expected when New Orleans started the season 1-2. There is a lot of football left to be played this season, and there is no telling what awaits the Saints moving forward. But for now, let us revel in the magnificence that was this 38-3 romp over the Bucs, and the incredible numbers that came along with the win.
In the battle for the career touchdown pass bragging rights, Drew Brees won a decisive round against Tom Brady on Sunday night, outscoring the Buccaneers quarterback 4-0 to take a 564 to 561 lead. Brees tossed four touchdowns passes in the game without an interception, while Brady, who came into the game leading by one touchdown on the all-time list did not throw a single touchdown pass in the game.
On Sunday night, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins was playing in his 111th consecutive NFL regular season game. Even more incredible, Jenkins was also starting his 111th consecutive regular season game. That is a streak that spans nearly seven regular seasons, which in a brutal sport like NFL football is barely believable, but true. At age 32, Jenkins started the 2020 season slowly, but on Sunday night he played arguably his best game since his return to New Orleans, putting pressure on Brady, covering Rob Gronkowski and picking off Brady once. The veteran safety has played 99.6% of the Saints’ defensive snaps, which ranks third on the team behind linebacker Demario Davis (99.8%) and fellow safety Marcus Williams (99.8%). When Sean Payton brought Jenkins back to the Saints this offseason, this is what he envisioned: a locker room leader, but also a player who could still perform at a high level and positively impact the game for his team. The numbers say Payton was right.
When you play in the AFC East for as long as Tom Brady did during his time with the New England Patriots, you rarely ever experience the taste of a sweep at the hands of a division rival. It had been exactly 19 seasons since a Brady-led team had been swept in the division until Sunday night’s defeat by his Bucs to the Saints. That is a preposterous number! As you recall, New Orleans had won the season opener against the Bucs 34-23 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, before winning two days ago. As the wise man once said, there is a first time for everything. Sunday night, the feeling must have been quite unfamiliar for Brady.
When the Saints are not breaking records, they are making other teams do it. Tampa Bay was so thoroughly flummoxed by New Orleans on Sunday night that Bruce Arians near-literally stopped running the ball in a desperate effort to come back behind Brady’s arm. The Bucs had a total of five rushing attempts, the lowest such figure in NFL history. Even more egregious is that one of the rushes was the kneel-down by backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert to end the game. So, a team with Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette in its backfield actually tried to run the ball a grand total of four times. Yikes!
During Tom Brady’s illustrious career, not many quarterbacks have had the upper hand on the Buccaneers’ signal-caller. Sure, no quarterback ever truly plays against another, since they never actually face each other and the team around them is a major factor in their success. However, it is interesting to note that in seven career meetings, Drew Brees now has a 5-2 record against Tom Brady, the best-such record against Brady in his NFL career. How lucky have Saints fans been to enjoy 15 years of Brees quarterbacking the team they root for? As the Brees’ era slowly comes to a close in New Orleans, let’s appreciate just how great he has been for the Saints franchise.
With half of the Saints’ 2020 season in the books, who is the team’s MVP?
This poll is closed
Drew Breeeeeees, whose noodle arm has become accurate again
Alvin Kamara. Enough said
Trey Hendrickson, who incredibly leads the team in sacks with 7.5
Wil Lutz, who has missed only one kick all season
The triple bacon whopper with cheese is the real MVP