After Further Review: Five takes from the Saints win over Seahawks
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: An imperfect yet winning effort
2-3 isn’t great, but it’s a whole lot better than 1-4. That’s why the Saints were all smiles exiting the Superdome Sunday.
They know they didn’t play perfect, but in a game they absolutely had to have, the Saints put forth their best performance of the season against the Seahawks.
They didn’t fall behind early and opened the game with a field goal on offense. They ran the ball with dominance, had less penalties, were even in the turnover battle, and had a significant edge on third down. At one point, they were up by 12 points, which was their biggest lead of the season.
Major mistakes may have been made, but in the end the Saints got the job done with a well-deserved win.
Take Two: Superman wore No. 7 for the Saints
There is simply no one else in the NFL like Taysom Hill. He is the league’s most unique player. On Sunday, that skillset came together for his finest hour as a pro.
The Saints said they went into the game feeling like Hill was a good matchup against the Seahawks defense. That turned out to be a major understatement.
In a performance for the ages, Hill was absolutely magnificent. He rushed for three touchdowns, threw another, recovered a fumble on special teams, and even had a nice kickoff return.
Hill’s touchdown pass was perfectly executed and perfectly called. Pete Carmichael dialed it up right after the Saints recovered a fumble deep in Seahawks territory. No one on Seattle expected the pass. Perhaps that’s why Adam Trautman was so wide open in the end zone.
On his go-ahead 60-yard touchdown run, the Saints went goalline personnel with no receivers on the field. Seattle knew the power run was coming, and crowded the line of scrimmage. On the snap, they completely sold out for the run. The problem is that left no one beyond the first level of the defense. When Hill broke Quadre Diggs’ tackle at the line of scrimmage, there was no one else in his way to the end zone.
The play was the perfect exclamation point to an all-time effort.
In the end Hill finished with:
3 touchdown runs
1 touchdown pass
1 fumble recovery
22 passing yards
69 kickoff return yards
Take Three: Third down success
Hill’s final touchdown run described above came on third down, and was one of eight conversions in 14 attempts for the Saints on Sunday. Another one came when Andy Dalton found Chris Olave in the end zone to go up, 24-19.
On defense, the Saints dominated third down. Geno Smith found D.K, Metcalf on their very first third down attempt of the game for a touchdown. It would also be their last. They didn’t convert their next eight attempts to finish 1/9.
In a game where the turnover margin was equal, the major disparity in third down production was the most telling stat.
Take Four: Major mistakes
It would be foolish to ignore some of the major mistakes the Saints made Sunday.
For starters, their end-of-half execution was abysmal. With a chance to add to their lead at half with a touchdown or a field goal, James Hurst was flagged for illegal hands to the face that negated a 12-yard reception that would have put the Saints at the Seahawks 27-yard line. On the next play, Alvin Kamara fumbled near midfield. Three plays after that, Smith found Tyler Lockett in the end zone to give the Seahawks a 19-17 lead at the break. That nine-point swing could have been costly.
Andy Dalton’s third quarter throw to Tre’Quan Smith was late and well behind him. Fortunately, the Saints defense was able to force a punt on the next drive.
Speaking of big plays, the defense was vulnerable to them all game. In the fourth quarter, Smith found Lockett again for a 40-yard touchdown. On the next drive, the Saints misdiagnosed a run play and allowed Kenneth Walker III to break off a 69-yard touchdown run. That gaffe gave Seattle a late lead, and stoked major concern inside the Superdome.
In all the Saints surrendered gains of: 32, 32, 39, 40, 50 and 69 yards respectively. They were able to overcome them, but that won’t be the case in most weeks that happens.
Take Five: Other Observations
- The Saints ran the ball 48 times for 235 yards Sunday. Good things happen when a team isn’t constantly playing from behind.
- The 54-yard screen to Kamara in the second half was a work of art. Carmichael dialed it up at the perfect time, and caught the Seahawks in a blitz. When Dalton lofted the pass into Kamara just over the blitzing defenders, he had a whole lot of running room and three offensive linemen in front of him.
- Speaking of Kamara, he loves playing Seattle. He finished with 194 total yards.
- Smith looks like a completely different quarterback than the one the Saints faced last season in Seattle. He’s accurate, decisive, and gave his team a chance to win with his effort.
- The fourth down penalty where the official called the Saints for false start in the fourth quarter was simply a bad call. It was crystal clear that the Seahawks defender was in the neutral zone.
- Linebacker Pete Werner continues to be the team’s best defender. His strip of Metcalf to open the second half, rejuvenated the team when Seattle had stolen all the momentum before halftime.
- Dalton was not as sharp this week as he was a week ago. He misfired on a few more throws. Still, for the most part he stayed within himself and operated the offense.
- What a weird time for the Seahawks to call a fake punt. It was 4th & 9 at their own 21-yard line, and they had just committed a false start penalty. Credit the Saints for not being fooled by that disaster of a play. They went up by seven, two plays later.
- Scary situation involving Olave when his head bounced off the turf on his touchdown catch. Hopefully, he’s able to recover quickly.
- As for that touchdown, it turned out to be a great challenge by Dennis Allen. I didn’t think it had a chance at getting overturned.
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