Saints Rock Opening Night at the Super Dome
Before I start, check out Tracy Porter’s haircut before the game: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-network-total-access/09000d5d81a65aa2/Spider-web-hairdo
Thursday night was the opening night for the NFL and for the Saints. There were all kinds of celebrities there from Dave Matthew, Taylor Swift, Harry Connick Jr., etc. The Saints also unveiled their new banner in the Super Dome from last season’s Super Bowl champion Saints.
The Saints started the game off hot. Drew Brees started the opening drive off going 3 for 4 with 77 yards that included a 28 yard pass to Colston on the first play of the game and the 29 yarder for a TD to Devery Henderson. After that the Saints offense would cool down, amassing only 72 yards for the rest of the first half. They started off with another TD on their opening drive of the second half. Those would be the only points of the game for the Saints, who also missed two field goals.
They would win the game 14-9, as you already know. I know you had to watch the game, because it broke many records for ratings. It was the second largest rated program in New Orleans behind last year’s NFC Championship game and it was even rated higher than the Super Bowl.
The first run of the game for the Saints was a nice 8 yarder from Reggie Bush. I really believe that Bush is getting much better in the running game and was surprised the Saints didn’t call his number more often. He had 2 carries for 14 yards, with a 7 YPC average.
One thing I definitely have to give the Saints props for is the offensive line. Those guys played amazing and basically man-handled the Vikings defensive line all game, especially in goal line situations. They were just pancaking Viking defenders left and right. They also shut down one of the best pass rushers in the league in Jared Allen, who did get one hit on Brees, but that was it.
Hopefully Garrett Hartley can get his game together as he went 0/2 for the game. After going 8/8 in the preseason, he looked like money from anywhere on the field, but Thursday night he just wasn’t with it. I think he’ll bounce back though.
Malcolm Jenkins played a nice game. He had a bone jarring hit on a catch made by Percy Harvin in the third quarter. He also had a near interception, coming full speed from the middle of the field to the sidelines where he dove out of bounds to catch the ball.
Jonathan Vilma continues to read defenses like he’s reading to kids for charity. He picked off Favre on a short pass in the first half as he was hit by Roman Harper. He finished it off with four tackles and a defended pass.
The Saints’ run defense played really well. Some analysts and fans didn’t think the Saints played very good defense against the run on Thursday night, but they are forgetting that Adrian Peterson is one of the top two backs in the NFL. We held him to 87 yards on 19 attempts. His longest run was 14 yards.
Sedrick Ellis played like a monster. He got the only sack of the game on Brett Favre, was disruptive in the passing game, and stuff the run well up the middle.
Many say the Saints corners are one of the best tandems in the league and they definitely didn’t disappoint on Thursday night. Jabari Greer’s coverage was great. He had two passes defended, which very well both could have been picks. He had two tackles for losses, and five tackles. Porter played shutdown as well. The Saints pass defense held Brett Favre to a 71.7 passer rating on 15 of 27 attempts for 171 yards. If they can do that all season long, it will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks to play the Saints.
If you’ve been following the Saints throughout the preseason, you may know that since losing Scott Fujita we’ve been trying to find a good fit for his position. Jonathan Casillas seemed to be the clear cut winner of the job, but in the last preseason game he went down with a freak foot injury, ending his season. Jo-Lonn Dunbar was his replacement, and while I had mixed feelings on him, Sean Payton was very enthused with his play, and Gregg Williams likes his versatility. He just might wind up being a good fit. We’ll have to see.
After torrential special teams play in the preseason, it was especially good against the Vikings. Remi Ayodele blocked the extra point on the Vikings only score. We held Percy Harvin to 41 yards on two kickoff returns. Bernard Berrian got only 2 yards on two punt returns.
Overall it definitely wasn’t the prettiest game, but at the end of the day the Saints came away with the “W”. It certainly looks good for Saints fans when the defense can put up that kind of performance against what was the second rated offense last year behind the Saints. If we can keep that kind of play up and get our offense back in order, this team could be one of the best teams of all time, really.