NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -
It started with a text from Michael Thomas.
“Mike text me right before the game,” says Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith. “He was like, ‘Ball out bro.’”
And what followed in the Lions game was one of the best outings of Tre’Quan Smith’s young career, not because of the numbers (4 receptions for 54 yards and two TD), but because of the situation. Without Thomas available, Smith has been thrust into the role of play-maker and says he finally feels like he’s making an impact.
“I feel like I really know the offense now that I know Mike’s position, which I never played before,” says Smith. “So I definitely grew up the last couple of games.”
As coach Payton’s acknowledged before, it’s Smith’s appetite for making plays in traffic that sets him apart from a lot of receivers. Knowing that the Lions would play a lot of man coverage, Smith was clearly up to the task of coming down with the football by any means necessary.
“He was outstanding today,” says Payton. “He made some contested plays in real big situations.”
But the biggest play he made wasn’t in the end zone. Up by just six points and facing a crucial third down to help put the game out of reach, Drew Brees admits he didn’t see much open down the field as he was being knocked down, but he had confidence that his target would make the play. Smith says having his quarterback show that type of belief in him means a lot.
“I feel like that was the biggest play of the day,” says Smith. “We really needed the first down, and Drew trusted me and threw me the ball, and I came down with it. By far, that was the biggest play for us to ice the game and secure the win.”
Plays like that were the difference between the Saints getting back on solid ground or falling into a 1-3 hole. And now, with the offense looking far better than it has all season, there’s a clear feeling that this win in Detroit could mark the turning point in the first half of the schedule.
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