NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -Take One: Slow start sets Saints back
A fast start it was not for the Saints. On the game’s first play, Drew Brees went deep to Ted Ginn, Jr. but his pass was poorly under thrown and picked off by Cre’Von LeBlanc. The play happened so quickly and was so uncharacteristic that it threw off the entire vibe of the stadium and seemed to put the entire team in a state of shock. It took them basically the entire first quarter to snap out of it. In the meantime, Nick Foles went on to calmly connect on his first seven passes as the Eagles raced out to a 14-0 lead.
Fortunately, the Saints were able to recover and got the job done. However, this is probably not the formula for success against the Rams next week.
Take Two: Marshon Lattimore Saves and Seals the game
When the team desperately needed a play, Lattimore was the defender to deliver- not once, but twice. His first interception came early in the second quarter, down 14-0, when he undercut Foles’ pass to Zach Ertz of the pick. It was the first time the Saints had stopped the Eagles all game. From that point on, they would not score again.
On the Eagles final offensive drive, of the game, with the Saints up 20-14, Lattimore was just in the right spot when Alshon Jeffrey let the pass get through his hands and picked it off. At that point in the game, the entire football world was thinking ‘Foles magic’, but Lattimore squashed those dreams with a heads up interception and sent the Eagles into their offseason.
Lattimore may not have had the second year regular season many may have hoped, but if he plays the rest of the postseason like he did Sunday, absolutely no one will mind.
Take Three: The Drive
18 plays. 92 yards. 11:29 off the clock. In a word: Epic.
When the Saints got the ball for their first possession of the third quarter, at their own eight-yard line, there was 13:09 on the clock. When the Eagles got the ball on the next possession, there was 1:40 left. The drive nearly stretched through the whole third quarter. Along the way the Saints were penalized three times, including an Andrus Peat holding call that negated a Taysom Hill touchdown pass to Alvin Kamara, and converted three different third downs. The biggest came on third-and 16 when Brees found Michael Thomas for twenty yards. Thomas capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown catch.
The drive was draining for both teams but demoralizing for Philly, who was clinging to a 14-10 lead. But it was legendary for the Saints, who took the lead 17-14 at that point and never gave it back.
Take Four: Michael Thomas’ World
Is it too early to say Thomas is the best wide receiver to ever wear black and gold? Maybe so, but I’m getting closer and closer to that proclamation with each passing game. No one in franchise history has had a three-year run like this. He truly is unguardable. Sunday may have been his best effort yet; Thomas finished with 12 catches on 16 targets, 171 yards and a touchdown. And his team needed every single bit of it. Without his exploits, I’m not sure they advance to the NFC Championship game.
That’s what’s so refreshing about it. Thomas isn’t just stuffing the stat sheet, he’s making pays at crucial moments in the game to truly help his team win.
Take Five: Other Observations
- Brees had two fumbles in the first quarter and fortunately the Saints recovered both. The second one came when Brandon Graham came around the edge and swiped the ball. Somehow, the ball bounced out of Graham’s hands and ended up with Ryan Ramczyk. Had the Eagles gotten the ball right there, they would have taken over in Saints’s field position up, 14-0.
- I didn’t think Brees truly found his rhythm against the Eagles until the final drive of the first half when he connected on five consecutive passes to help set up a Saints field goal right before halftime.
- I think everyone in the stadium suspected the Taysom Hill fake punt in the second quarter. The Eagles even kept most of their main defense on the field to defend it. Still, Hill, who has the freedom to check out of that play, liked what he saw and gained four yards. The amount of momentum-changing plays Hill has provided the Saints this season has made him an invaluable player on this Super Bowl run.
- Sunday was the one of the worst games of Andrus Peat’s career. He was penalized four times and nearly crushed the Saints on their third quarter drive. He looked to have some kind of protective piece on his right hand. It’s unclear if that was hindering him on Sunday. Regardless, he must do better next week when LA comes to town.
- Alvin Kamara’s third-and-ten run to officially close the game out on the final offensive drive had me thinking of Deuce McAllister back in 2006 playoffs when his final run sealed the franchise’s first ever trip to the NFC championship game.
- The crowd Sunday was incredible. The electric atmosphere caused forced the Eagles into at least two false start penalties and early timeouts. That same energy will help next week with that explosive Rams offense.
- By the way, 20 points isn’t going to be enough against the Rams.