A win is a win especially against a division foe, that’s how I look at last Thursday night’s game against the Falcons. As expected both teams were sluggish with only a few days rest but make no mistake wins over the Cowboys, 49rs and Falcons over a span of twelve days is pretty remarkable. But it doesn’t get any easier from here on out, so before I go into depth about the victory over Atlanta let me share a few thoughts on what I think lies ahead.
Of course next Monday night’s game is huge and to be honest I can’t remember a regular season game for the Saints with so much on the line. If you break down the defensive stats for both teams they are really neck and neck on how good they have both been this year….it’s a wash. The loss of Jabari Greer is a void that they will be hard pressed to replace but at the same time Seattle cornerbacks Brandon Browner and newly suspended Walter Thurmond will miss the game.
Offensively the edge leans heavily towards the Saints, if the Saints don’t turn the ball over and that’s a big if, they win going away. Even though Seattle has Percy Harvin back their offense goes through Marshawn Lynch not Russell Wilson, containing him is a must. Seattle’s offensive line is shaky at best so expect Cameron Jordan and gang to pressure early and often. You can bet this week at Saints camp they will be practicing under pumped in noise, they can’t afford to have false starts or delay of game penalties because of crowd noise just look what happened to Colin Kaepernick in the Dome a couple of weeks ago, he fell apart and burned all their timeouts. I like the Saints in this game, this one has been a long time in the making and the only beast mode that will take place is when the Saints bust out the victory party on the long plane ride home.
Okay let’s take a look back at the Thursday night win over the hated Falcons.
The Falcons are a mess plain and simple, back in July when we were doing the pod cast breaking down the NFC South I stated that if things went wrong early for them that they would implode and that’s exactly what we are seeing now. This is a team that has quit and is looking for their vacations; it’s kind of pathetic if you ask me, a team that was the number one seed last year is in the running for the first pick in the NFL draft. Excuse me while I step outside of the house and laugh uncontrollably (The wife thinks I’m nuts as it is) I’m loving every second of their horrible season…..moving on….
In this week’s grind factor we’ll take a look at three plays, first is the Benjamin Watson touchdown. I was really glad to see Watson rebound from the concussion and come up big, the man is a first class act all the way around. The second play is the first down run by Pierre Thomas (how big was he all night?) that stiff arm that he did on Desmond Trufant was ridiculous. The third play I look at is the biggest play of the night, Keyunta Dawson’s strip of Falcon Receiver Darius Johnson, the instinct and hustle by Dawson was outstanding late in a game when both teams had rubber legs and were dead tired.
1:23 left in the 1st quarter the Saints have the ball at the Atlanta 2 yard line
The Saints are showing run here with their two tight end and fullback power package but when the ball is snapped Benjamin Watson, Jimmy Graham and Jed Collins all go out into routes. The Falcons are in their heavy run defense with three safeties in the game.
At first Brees wants to get it to Jed Collins on the flare route but SS William Moore makes the right read and has him covered. Mark Ingram gets just enough LDE Cliff Matthews to give Brees time for his third option (Jimmy Graham is his second and is covered by MLB Akiem Dent) Ben Watson who is covered by FS Thomas Decoud.
With pressure now coming from Matthews, Brees has an opportunity to run left and SLB Paul Worrilow sees this and shifts to the right momentarily giving Watson enough time to get behind him. FS Thomas Decoud does a decent job of covering Watson considering the referee got between the two.
The end result was a good throw and a good catch by Watson to get both his feet down. This is a classic example of Sean Payton outcoaching Mike Smith, make them bring in the run defense package and pass it on them.
After a sack on Brees the Saints face a 2nd and 17 from their 33 yard line with 8:00 minutes left in the 3rd quarter
This is just a great play by Pierre Thomas. You can’t see it here but Charles Brown does a nice job of pushing a hard charging Osi Umenyiora out of the play (lower left) Jed Collins comes up and takes out SLB Paul Worrilow while Lance Moore does a great block on FS Thomas Decoud.
With those blocks locked down Pierre has one man to beat to the first down marker, CB Desmond Trufant. Pierre gives Trufant a brutal stiff arm and quite frankly made him look like a fool on the play, Pierre played his tail off all game long this is just one example.
SS William Moore comes up to knock Pierre out-of-bounds just as he crosses the first down marker, a great individual play by Pierre that brought back flashbacks of the infamous Chris Ivory stiff arm a couple of years ago against the Falcons, the egg® was in a happy place after this play.
Atlanta is driving deep into Saints territory with 13:17 left in the game, the ball is at the Saints 22 yard line
Atlanta runs a pretty good play here, but Keyunte Dawson made a great play. Atlanta is faking a screen to the right and Ryan is looking that way but turns and throws to the left to WR Darius Johnson, as soon as Ryan turns so does Dawson and he reverses field.
As you can see the ball is in the air and Dawson is already making a beeline to the receiver, his quick thinking and Hustle changed a very close game.
Here is the impact and strip.
And here is Corey White diving on the ball, its game changing plays like these that the Saints will need to do in a hostile environment next Monday night in Seattle.
Yes the Victory wasn’t pretty by any stretch but on the road against the dirty birds was a work of art in my opinion. As the Falcons are looking at the number one pick in the draft the Saints are gearing up for game that will give either team the inside track to the number one seed in the playoffs.
Monday can’t come fast enough, this matchup of the two heavyweights is the game of the year (up to this point) I will have more on this game after the holidays so be safe everyone and have a Happy Who Dat Thanksgiving and please don’t do what I do, eat massive amounts of turkey and pass out watching the Cowboys game.