Good morning, Y’all!
As always, for our novice readers or non-New Orleanians, welcome!
Let’s start with some definitions:
Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed heavily powdered with sugar.
This is your “After-Saints-Game” brunch, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on with the team and talk about what’s next at this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.
What Just Happened?
In their first outdoor game of the year, the New Orleans Saints (5-2) were playing the Chicago Bears (5-3) at Soldier Field on Sunday. Remember when the Saints were 1-2, after a home-loss to the Green Bay Packers, Drew Brees’ arm was dead and the season too? Well, since then, Brees has led the Saints to a 4-0 record in a series of close, gritty wins. New Orleans has won its last four games by a grand total of 15 points. What is both uncanny and encouraging is that in all these games, the Saints have displayed the no-panic maturity of a team that “has been there and done that.” On Sunday in Chicago, the Saints were down by 10, proceeded to score the game’s next 20 points, only to get caught by the Bears. They then calmly took a knee, went to overtime, stopped the Bears offense and scored a field goal to win a hard-fought 26-23 contest. With the win, New Orleans keeps the Bucs (5-2) on their toes, as Tampa Bay has a Monday Night Game in the Meadowlands against the lowly New York Giants.
Below is a film of yesterday’s game as it unfolded.
The Saints started the game with the ball and elected to go heavy on the ground game. The drive would end with a Wil Lutz 38-yard field goal, his 29th make in a row, to give the Saints a 3-0 lead. On their first possession of the game, the Bears would drive into Saints’ territory but stall aided by a sack by Marcus Davenport, his second in as many games. The Bears would settle for a 44-yard field goal by Cairo Santos, tying the game at 3.
On New Orleans’ second drive of the day, Alvin Kamara continued his dominant play, taking a Drew Brees’ slant pass 48 yards into Chicago territory to end the first quarter. The Saints would get into the red zone on a run by Taysom Hill, but eventually stall and Wil Lutz would miss a 27-yard attempt by hitting the right upright, his first miss in 29 tries, but more amazingly, his first career miss of 30 yards of less.
Taking the ball at their 20-yard line, Nick Foles would find Tulane alum Darnell Mooney for a 50-yard bomb, beating Saints’ cornerback Janoris Jenkins one on one on the play. Two plays later, Foles would find Allen Robinson for a touchdown and a 10-3 Chicago lead. The Saints would go three-and-out in their subsequent drive. The team would then exchange three-and-outs, with New Orleans losing the field possession battle up to that point of the game. The Bears would then take the ball and get into New Orleans’ red zone with a 38-yard run by David Montgomery. Chicago would eventually stall and convert a short field goal for a 13-3 lead. With 1:39 left in the half, the Saints would do what they do best, score in the two-minute drill. In a blink, the Saints would find themselves inside the red zone and Brees would then find tight end Jared Cook for a touchdown with three seconds left in the half, putting New Orleans within three points of Chicago at 13-10.
With the Bears deferring the toss in the first half, Chicago started the second half with the ball. A Saints’ sack of Nick Foles by linebacker Demario Davis would force the Bears to punt, with Deonte Harris taking the punt all the way to the Bears’ 16-yard line for a 42-yard return. Despite the great starting field position, New Orleans would settle for a field goal, Lutz converting a 27-yard try to tie the game at 13.
On the ensuing Bears possession, The Saints would record the first turnover of the game, with cornerback Marshon Lattimore intercepting an ill-advised pass by Nick Foles. The pick was Lattimore’s first of the season, setting up New Orleans at Chicago’s 39-yard line. Facing a 4th-and-6 at the Bears’ 35-yard line, Brees would find Deonte Harris for a first down to keep the drive alive. The Saints would eventually stall and settle for yet another field goal, Lutz 39-yard field going through for a 16-13 lead.
The Saints’ defense would flex its muscles again and hold the Bears to a three-and-out, with New Orleans once again taking over inside Chicago territory. The Saints would take the ball and stall on 4th-and-1 inside the Bears’ 30-yard line, turning the ball over on downs. Thankful for the gift, the Bears would return the favor, getting into Saints’ territory and failing on a 4th-and-5 at the Saints’ 35-yard line, on a pass nearly intercepted by Marshon Lattimore. Taking over, New Orleans would finally get into the end zone again, Brees finding Taysom Hill for a touchdown pass and giving the Saints a 23-13 lead. At that point of the game, the Saints had scored 20 unanswered points with 9:57 left in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by 10, the Bears would turn to the passing game, with Foles driving Chicago deep into New Orleans territory. The Bears would get to the goal line aided by a pass interference penalty on Linebacker Demario Davis. Nick Foles would eventually find Darnell Mooney for a touchdown, bringing Chicago within three points of the Saints at 23-20, on a drive that took nearly six and a half minutes.
The Saints would take over at their 35-yard line and go three-and-out, giving the ball back to Chicago at the two-minute warning. Chicago would take over at their own 35-yard line, and on the first pass, Demario Davis would force a fumble by tight end Cole Kmet and recover the ball. Unfortunately for New Orleans, “forward progress” had been ruled, as Kmet was being driven backward, overturning the fumble and giving the Bears new life. The right call by the referees, even though infuriating to Saints’ head coach Sean Payton.
Nick Foles would convert two fourth down plays and rive the Bears to the Saints’ 34-yard line, where Chicago would attempt a 51-yard field goal. Cairo Santos would convert, tying the game at 23 with 13 seconds left in the game. The Saints would take a knee after the kickoff and let the game go to overtime.
Winning the toss after safety Malcolm Jenkins called “tails,” the Saints would take the ball to start overtime but stall and punt. Chicago would take over at its own 20-yard line, needing only a field goal to win the game. After a few plays, the Saints’ defensive line pressure would eventually get to Foles, Trey Hendrickson sacking the Bears’ quarterback and forcing a punt.
With a chance to win the game with only a field goal, the Saints would take the ball at their own 32-yard line with 3:48 left in overtime, and get into Chicago territory when Brees would find Tre’Quan Smith for a big conversion inside the Bears’ 40-yard line. A long run by Alvin Kamara would take the ball into the Bears’ red zone. Despite a delay of game penalty taking them five yards farther, the Saints would attempt a 35-yard field goal, which Wil Lutz would convert, giving New Orleans its fourth win in a row and a 5-2 record.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: The Saints’ Defense
I know what you’re thinking, or at least I can guess: hey man, what about all these bomb plays? Well, do you mean THE one bomb play? Nick Foles had a 50-yard pass play to Darnell Mooney, who is a speed demon and just beat Janoris Jenkins in a foot race. Those things happen, as believe it or not, the players on the other team get paid to play football too. But on the day, the Saints limited Nick Foles and the Bears to 5-of-15 on third down (33%), which is outstanding. New Orleans also limited the Bears to only 96 yards rushing on 23 attempts. It was a 4.2 yard-per-rush average, but on a cold, windy day, had Chicago been more successful running the ball, they would have certainly attempted more rushes than the 23 they had. The Saints’ defense also came clutch with five sacks of Foles on the day, including a crucial one in overtime, when all the Bears needed was a field goal to win the game. Dennis Allen and his crew earned their money on Sunday afternoon in the Windy City.
More Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: Wil Lutz
Kickers are fickle beasts. When Wil Lutz missed a 27-yarder, the first field goal-miss inside 30-yard of his entire five-year NFL career, he could have been shell-shocked, gone in hiding into said shell and cost the Saints the game. But instead, after that miss, Lutz made a 27-yard field goal to tie the game at 13 in the third quarter. Later in the quarter, he converted a 39-yard try to give New Orleans a 16-13 lead. Finally, certainly the most pressure-packed one, Lutz converted a 35-yarder to win the game in overtime. Having a good kicker is like having good insurance: at times you may wonder why the hell you bought it in the first place, but when [bleep] hits the fan, you sure are glad you did. The Saints have a not-just-good but great kicker in Wil Lutz.
Katy, bar the door!
Next Sunday night, the Saints are invading the Florida bay, hoping to wrestle control of the southern lands away from the hands of Captain Tom O’Brady, a vile pirate known for his ruthlessness and endless screaming at his shipmates when the raid is not conducted to perfection or the plunder is slim. The holy men from la Nouvelle Orléans are coming armed with holy water, at their head Father Payton, a ruthless and petty leader in his own right, known for his victories in rivalry battles. The hallowed army is also led by an old and short priest whose holy arm is tired, but can still dish out the almighty’s punishment when the stakes are high. You will want to tune in for this boarding of the pirates’ ship, yellow bellies. Drink your fill if your heart is weak and get ready for what promises to be an epic battle.
The Saints are 5-2. How far can they go this season?
This poll is closed
They will win the NFC South, exit in the divisional round of the playoffs
They will finish second in the South, earn a Wild Card berth
They will collapse late and miss the playoffs altogether
They’re not peaking too early, I see them in the NFC championship game
I’ve gone as far as 10 burgers on gameday. How about you?