Going into last Sunday’s game against the Colts I have to admit I wasn’t feeling too good about the Saints chances of escaping with a win. The reason wasn’t because I thought the Colts were head and shoulders above the Saints, it was because I thought with Indy coming off a tough loss to the Patriots they would come out hungry and sharp. I also thought the Saints may have a bit of a let down coming off the win at home against the Falcons and then hitting the road.  After all, they had given me no reason to think otherwise because that’s exactly what happened after the Dallas game when they laid an egg the following week in Philadelphia.

I’m glad my gut feeling was wrong because the Saints hammered the Colts. The final score doesn’t reflect on how much the Saints dominated the trenches. Save for Delvin Breaux falling down on a couple of long touchdown passes to T.Y.Hilton, this game should have been a blowout; and when the game was on the line, Drew Brees and Marques Colston came up huge with a perfectly executed back shoulder pass that they have perfected over the years.

I don’t know if the Colts are that bad or if the Saints truly turned a corner. I’m going with the wait-and-see attitude; and with the way the schedule is shaping up, they could go on a serious run here. But if I learned anything from this team over the last couple of years is they can give you false hope. Let’s see if they can string something together here.

Okay, on to the plays from this week’s Grind Factor….

The Saints have the ball 4th & 9 at the Colts 29 yard line with 2:45 left in the 1st quarter the score is 0 – 0

If you’ve followed me on here at WDW over the years you know I am one of Saints special team’s coach Greg McMahon’s biggest critics, and for good reason, the Saints special teams haven’t been very good. But I have to give him props this year, they have been outstanding.

From the 74-yard touchdown from Marcus Murphy’s punt return at Carolina to the emotional Michael Mauti blocked punt touchdown against Atlanta, they are making big plays we haven’t seen in the recent past.  In the game against the Colts they came up big once again. Not once but twice–the Hau’oli Kikaha forced fumble of an Indy kick off return and the fake field goal attempt–the latter of which we’ll take a quick look at.

There’s really nothing fancy about this play at all–it was just executed well and completely caught the Colts off guard. First you have to sell the play which new kicker Kai Forbath does a good job of following through with the fake kick.

Then Saints tight end Ben Watson and center Max Unger break through their collective blocks and both are uncovered down the field. When holder Luke McCown rolls to his left he barely gets the ball off to Watson before getting hammered as seen in the screen shots below. It’s truly a game of inches because, if McCown held on to the ball a fraction of a second longer, I don’t think he gets a clean pass off and maybe not at all.

Fake FG 1 Fake FG 2

Fake FG 3

Fake field goal

The Colts have the ball 1st & 10 at their 25 yard line with 2:23 left in the 1st quarter

This is the very first offensive play after the Saints score (K.Robinson) as a result of the fake field goal. The Colts are going to come out with five wide, and the Saints are going to drop into zone rushing four and dropping back seven. Below is a pre-snap look at the personnel and the routes ran.

INT 1

Andrew Luck is going to try and hit TY Hilton finding a soft spot in the zone on a slant pass. Kyle Wilson originally lines up opposite Hilton and is going to slide over into the flat and take Donte Moncrief. This leaves the middle of the field temporarily open as FS Jairus Byrd comes up to help with Andre Johnson who is on a crossing route. Stephone Anthony perfectly reads this and makes a great play getting into Luck’s passing lane and tips the ball to himself for the interception. If Anthony doesn’t make this spectacular play Hilton still might be running down the field because in my opinion Kenny Vacarro is too deep and will react too slowly when Luck releases the ball. Below is a couple of screen shots of the play.

INT 2INT 3

The Saints have the ball 3rd & 4 at the Colts 47 yard line with 2:09 left in the game

This is the game-clenching back shoulder throw to Marques Colston. This a perfect play call getting the isolation on Colston by a smaller defensive back – Darius Butler. Below are the receivers and the routes they ran.

Colston 1

A key that is overlooked on this play was a great block by TE Michael Hoomanawanui on the Colts Robert Mathis. As soon as the ball is snapped Hoomanawanui makes a bee line for Mathis who is coming from the far side of the line of scrimmage untouched. This block was key to letting the 20-yard pass play develop. When the Saints traded away Akiem Hicks for this unknown tight end I was scratching my head on this move but after watching him play a few games I’ve come to realize it was a brilliant move. Below is a couple of screen shots of the block.

Colston 2Colston 3

How many times over the years have we seen Brees and Colston hook up on the back shoulder pass? More times than I can count.  Heck, they can do this in their sleep if they wanted to when they see the right defensive match-up.

This is probably Colston’s last year in the black and gold and to be honest it’s been hard to watch him struggle this year. I think it was fitting for a game with so many ups and downs to end with Colston coming up clutch to seal the game. Many people piled on him for his mistakes the last couple of years but you have to realize this was the man who made his money going over the middle and getting crushed year after year. It has taken its toll but for one play at least, Colston was great once again.

Colston 4

Well that’s a wrap for this week’s Grind Factor, there was so much more I could have gone into but I try to keep it reasonable space wise. I don’t know if this little two game win streak will snowball into something bigger but I do know this –  I feel a lot better about this team than I did after the Eagles debacle.

The schedule is setting up nice the next few weeks starting with the Giants this Sunday in the thunder dome. I don’t take this Giants team lightly, and I’m sure the Saints won’t either.  There is a lot of talent on the Giants team. If the Saints keep doing what they have been doing recently–creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback–the Saints will win pulling away but if they don’t it will probably come down to the wire.  Let’s hope they get the ball rolling and get this team to an even 500….and to that I say, as always….WHODAT!!!!