Last Sunday night’s game in the dome was in a word, dominating. I can’t remember a game where it was so lopsided that I had to do a double take when reading the stat line, I knew the Saints completely dominated the game but all I could do while reading them was utter the word wow over and over. Here is a sampling of how good the Saints were last Sunday; Drew Brees completed 34 of 41 passes for 392 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brees also had a quarterback rating of 91.8, at one point Brees completed 19 straight passes. The Saints rushed the ball 38 times for 242 yards (let that sink in for a second) with Mark Ingram gaining 145 of them with an eye-opening 10.4 yards per carry.
When you put up numbers like these records will fall and the Saints put another record under their belt churning out an NFL record 40 first downs. The Saints also dominated the time of possession with a 39:32 to 20:28 edge over the Cowboys. The defense also played extremely well limiting Tony Romo to a dismal 10 of 24 passing attempts for 128 yards and a laughable quarterback rating of 11.5, he was also sacked three times. Rob Ryan was not going to let Dez Bryant beat them as he was double and triple teamed all night long, it worked perfectly with the secondary limiting him to one catch for 44 yards.
If there is any negative to take away from the game it would be that the run defense is still giving up chunks of yardage (DeMarco Murray ran for 89 yards for 5.6 a pop and a TD) Garrett Hartley still continues to be a head case missing another makeable field goal, he needs to get his mind right ASAP. I’m really nit-picking here but with this tough stretch coming up the Saints need to fix this and they are out of time to do it.
Some of the things that really stood out to me were, Mark Ingram and the offensive line. I’ve criticized both in the past so I’m giving credit where credit is due. Ingram had that burst that I have not seen since training camp, he found his lanes and hit holes without hesitation, he looks totally healthy and they will need him to run hard like he did with these next four games coming up. The offensive line looked the best that they have all year-long, opening up monster holes and giving Brees plenty of time to carve up the Cowboys secondary (he was sacked once) Jed Collins really looked good with his lead blocking, he was punishing players with his hits. Brian de la Puente had his best game of the year as did all the offensive linemen, granted Sean Lee got injured and DeMarcus Ware was clearly hobbled but that’s no excuse on how bad the Cowboys defense got man handled.
It was tough choosing the grind factor plays this week because there were so many to choose from plus it would take me all week to draw it up but I must say it was so much more enjoyable to break it down than last week where I literally had down some beers just to re-watch it. I went with a couple of Mark Ingram runs because he and the offensive line deserve the credit. I also did the screen pass touchdown to Darren Sproles right at the end of the half because in my mind that for all intents and purposes put the game away. When Dallas started calling time outs I knew they were making a mistake because if the defense stuffs them (they did and Cory White came up huge knocking away two passes) you would have to give the ball back to Drew Brees and at this point he was in a zone and it cost Dallas dearly heading into the halftime locker room.
After getting the ball back at their 25 yard line with 1:01 left on the clock the Saints drive to the Cowboys 28 yard line
Jahri Evans and Brain de la Peunte let their blocks go and head down field as Zach Strief stays behind to block. Lance Moore heads down field to block as does Marques Colston (circled) Marques peels off of CB Orlando Scandrick and sets his sights on SS Jeff Heath, this is a key block.
As you can see here it’s four on four and Marques, Lance, Jahri and Brian make all of their blocks, the execution is perfect especially the wide outs.
Sproles does a nice cut back behind the block of Colston, it was a great play…Pierre Thomas approves.
Pay dirt, Sean Payton has an uncanny knack for calling the screen pass at just the right time; he is the best in the NFL at doing so. His ability to see the defense and get the mismatch goes unnoticed at times but it is deadly when he pulls the trigger.
10:16 left in the 3rd quarter the Saints have the ball at their 32 yard line
Jahri Evans puts a nice block on WLB Bruce Carter while Zach Strief blocks out LDE George Selvie. FB Jed Collins comes up with yet another crushing lead block on FS Barry Church, Ingram hits this hole like he was shot out of a cannon.
TE Ben Watson does a nice job of blocking CB Orlando Scandrick, but look at the hole, the only thing that saves a touchdown was SS Jeff Heath coming up to make the tackle 34 yards later.
9:46 left in the 4th quarter the Saints have the ball on their 42 yard line
Again another great job blocking up front with Evans and Strief sealing the right side while Ben Grubbs and Brian de la Peunte take their men out, of course another devastating block by Jed Collins.
Only one man to beat until pay dirt (again) Jeff Heath saves another touchdown but it wouldn’t matter as Pierre Thomas would score from a yard out to finish the drive.
Here is another angle, to be honest at this point it looked like the Cowboys raised the white flag and was just looking to get on the bus.
There are a ton of positives to take from this game; I think it’s just what the doctor ordered with the meat of the schedule coming up. After watching the 49rs get manhandled at home last week the Saints need to hit them early and often because to be honest, the 49rs offense really isn’t anything special. I don’t think the Saints will come out flat because remember the last time Sean Payton coached a game before getting a year off was when San Francisco dealt them a devastating loss in a game they should have won, Sean’s been game planning for this one for a long time. Whelp there it is my friends, a much more enjoyable Grind Factor and believe me, Sunday can’t get here fast enough and with that…as always, WHO DAT!!!!