This past Sunday’s game was the one I’ve been waiting for since 2013 when Seattle beat the Saints 23-15 in the divisional round of the playoffs. Not so much for the revenge factor but to see how we would stack up against an elite NFC team that has had our number but this time it would be on the home turf.
Would it be more of the same: Drew Brees running for his life and the Seahawks running the ball down our throat? or would Sean Payton and Dennis Allen have an answer and a game plan to counter this Seattle team?
Before I get into the best game the Saints put together all season I must say I’m a bit disappointed on the number of Saints fans that sold their tickets to Seahawk fans. I know it’s your ticket and you can do what you want with it but come on, this was a game that the Saints just had to have and to have that many Seattle fans cranking up the noise was…lets just say I almost felt out numbered.
I also have to applaud the WhoDat Nation in the stands you guys were outstanding, you were loud at the right times and no doubt had an effect on the outcome. The tension was building for four quarters and when that final play sealed Seattle’s fate it felt like the entire dome shook – what a game it was.
It didn’t start that way though, as a matter of fact, it started the worst possible way you could imagine. When Earl Thomas returned that Mark Ingram fumble for a touchdown early on I would be lying if I said that this Saints team would tighten their chin straps, put it behind them and get after this Seattle team but that’s exactly what they did.
Sean Payton had a great game plan and he stuck to it all game long: Take what Seattle would give them in the passing game and run the ball. This would be the most balanced offensive attack that I can recall under a Payton coached team – 35 pass attempts and 35 runs.
I’ve been preaching all season long that the Saints have to play complimentary football and it sure was a sight for sore eyes when they executed it.
It all started with the Nate Stupar interception off of Russell Wilson in the 2nd quarter and the ensuing touchdown by Drew Brees. It really changed the atmosphere in the dome, not only energizing the crowd but also up and down the Saints sideline. After that series of plays went down Seattle knew they would be in for a dog fight the rest of the afternoon.
So with that being said this would be a good time to start the grind factor with the Stupar pick.
The Grind Factor Seattle at New Orleans
Seattle has the ball 1st and 15 at their 28 yard line with 5:08 left in the 2nd quarter
This is just a great play by Stupar but also his instincts to not be fooled by Russell Wilson’s eyes. Below is a pre-snap look at the routes ran and key personnel in the play.
It’s not everyday that you see a defensive tackle drop into coverage but that’s exactly what Tyeler Davison does as the Saints drop three in the box to cover Jimmy Graham. In the two screen shots below you will see the box but also notice Wilson who in my opinion is looking off the defense when he spies Graham coming off the line. Jermaine Kearse may have been his second read but to me it seems like a bang-bang play where he looks to Graham and his intent all along was to hit Kearse in the soft spot of the zone.
This is where Wilson was throwing to at the exact time he released the ball.
The rest was up to Stupar to make a really athletic play and one that was a game changer.
Seattle has the ball 3rd & 8 at the Saints 20 yard line with 8:38 left to go in the game
A lot of fans over the last couple of years have voiced their displeasure with Jairus Byrd’s play or lack of but this play was a key part in the Saints win Sunday. At this point the Saints are up 22-17 and if Jimmy Graham scores on this play Seattle would take the lead and the whole complexity of the game would change – he would not get in. Below is a screen shot of the pre-snap look.
As Jimmy Graham gets off the line Nate Stupar jams him at the line but Graham fights it off and gains a half step of separation on a crossing route. Russell Wilson throws a perfect pass to Graham and Jairus Byrd zeroes in.
After Graham secures the catch there is nothing between him and the end zone – except Byrd.
What Byrd does is no easy task taking down Graham by himself with Graham coming with full head of steam and the end zone only five yards away – it was a great tackle.
When I walked out of that dome I was mentally exhausted but in a good way, this was a victory as satisfying as any in recent memory plus being 3-4 with an excellent chance get to .500 this weekend is so much better than 2-5 and looking at a hole that will be nearly impossible to climb out of.
One game at a time.
The Saints better quickly put this game behind them because they can’t afford to sleep on an undermanned 49ers football team. They have to play sound football with no sloppy mistakes, penalties and crucial turnovers like they have this year when the Saints play on the road.
The Saints need to jump on the 49ers fast, keep their foot on the gas and take the will out of a bad football team. I think they will do it this weekend and it will be welcome sight to see light at the end of the tunnel because after the Saints started 0-3 all I had seen was darkness and to that I say, as always….WHO DAT!!!