Jim Henderson's Commentary: Saints victorious over Panthers, take NFC South lead

Jim Henderson's Commentary: Saints victorious over Panthers, take NFC South lead

Halloween is also known as All Hallows Eve and All Saints Eve. The eve of last night in Charlotte, if not all Saints, was mostly Saints.

The truncated schedule demanded by Thursday night football to the singular detriment of one team - the Saints - was dealt with and overcome. That schedule had coaches in their offices at 3 a.m. preparing to play a football game for which Zach Strief said it felt like "we never had a practice."

The victory enabled the Saints to take sole possession of first place in the NFC South and for Payton to take unbridled issue with the punishing predicament only his team would be asked to confront. Had the Saints lost, it's likely he would have suffered in silence for fear of "sour grapes." It needed to be said and in victory it could be.

Thursday games are seldom pretty and even less seldom victories for the visitors. The rarity last night was accomplished on both sides of the ball.

The Saints held Cam Newton to a career low in completions, completion percentage, and passer rating behind an offensive line that could have been assembled under the witness protection program it was so non-descript.

The Saints offense was successful enough to cause both a Panther starting cornerback and safety to be benched in the second half for ineptitude. And for the second straight week, it was an equal dose of "ground and pound" with their usual "air and flair" offense.

Thanks to Mark Ingram. I regret every word of criticism I once directed at him. To play hurt, to carry the ball 54 times for 272 yards in the Saints' first two-game winning streak of the season, to come to this point of the campaign without a single fumble, makes him my mid-season MVP.

In addressing the Saints' risk-taking late in the first half, Drew Brees quoted the famous tirade of a losing coach in Herm Edwards, who chided, "you play to win the game!"

Of the Saints and their performances the last two weeks, the fans could quote that of another - Dennis Green: "They are who we thought they were." And hopefully will continue to be.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.