The New Orleans Saints crammed every good and bad thing from their first four weeks of the 2017 season into four quarters and won a circus masquerading as a football game 52-38 over the Detroit Lions to climb above .500 for the first time in over 1000 days. The only thing Sunday’s game was missing was a big top tent, traditional circus music, and a scantily dressed woman juggling some knives.
I’m not sure what’s funnier, the fact the Saints had to hang on for dear life despite scoring 52, or the fact they won at all because Drew Brees threw for less than 200 yards and had two interceptions. It was a wild ride for nearly four hours was it not?
Did I mention the Saints scored three defensive touchdowns? Yeah that happened and thankfully it wasn’t a sign of the apocalypse. The Saints offense also had three turnovers in the second half, including Brees throwing a pick six, and the Lions returned a punt for touchdown. Things just got weird.
"Obviously, crazy game," coach Sean Payton said. Understatement of the century there coach. The Saints were way to close to pulling a reverse LSU. I’m not saying I was panicked, but I did hide all the sharp objects in my kitchen, just to be safe.
The Saints for the first two-and-a-half quarters looked like the best team in the NFC. They were throttling the Lions 45-10 and delivering the classic Mercedes Benz Superdome beat down we all enjoyed from 2009-2013.
*2012 never happened for the purpose of that last sentence.
After an opening punt, the Saints offense went touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown. Brees started the game completing 12 of his first 14 passes, Mark Ingram ripped off a 51 yard run, and the Saints did whatever they pleased.
The Saints were in such complete command I started peaking in on the Atlanta Falcons as they were in the middle of coughing up a 17-0 lead at home to the Miami Dolphins. Life was so good y’all. Then the wheels pretty much fell off, and surprisingly, it wasn’t the defense’s fault.
The Saints were up 35 with so much time left they basically hit cruise control but the problem was they couldn’t generate even one time killing drive. The Adrian Peterson trade was absolutely the right move but having a veteran running back to give clock melting carries would have come in handy.
Sure the Saints defense gave up some plays but without the turnovers or special team meltdown the Lions aren’t in the game. If the Saints fell behind 45-10 and then the defense played well for a quarter and a half would we care? We would not. I’m not going to get worked up over a bumpy second half from the defense.
In fact, I actually feel better about the defense than I would have if they had just coasted to the victory. The Saints offense was in a death spiral, the score was 45-38, and the Lions were backed up to their goal line and everything rode on the defense making a stop.
They delivered with a Cam Jordan interception for a touchdown. If this was the 2014, 2015, or 2016 Saints defense is there any doubt Matthew Stafford and the Lions go 99 yards and it’s 45-45? Not a doubt in my mind.
The 2017 defense is different because the Saints now have a legit pass rush and young athletic defensive backs. I’m still not sure if they are a good defense, but I’m 100 percent certain they aren’t a catastrophe. After the last three years, that’s cause for celebration.
So on the fourth attempt to climb above .500 since 2014, the Saints finally broke through, and suddenly looking around the NFC, 2017 is filled with possibilities. The Saints are tied in the loss column with Carolina and Atlanta in the NFC South, Aaron Rogers is likely out for the season after breaking his collarbone, so the NFC suddenly looks wide open.
Could this weekend have been any crazier football wise? LSU rises from the dead and 20 points down to beat Auburn, my Astros go up 2-0 in the American League Championship Series, and the Saints score 52 but nearly have a collapse for the ages.
2017 sports are weird and wonderful and it’s not even Halloween yet.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at Saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.
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