The 2016 New Orleans Saints continued their annual Halloween tradition of beginning the long climb back to 4-4, after a horrible September, with a 25-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks. I don't think it's overreaction to say B.W. Webb saved the Saints season by pushing Jermaine Kearse out of the end zone on the final play to preserve the win.
The Saints winning after falling behind 14-3, thanks in part to Mark Ingram fumble that Seattle returned for a score, was so improbable there's video of me eating cat food on the internet because I thought there was ZERO chance the Seahawks would cough up an 11-point lead.
But here we are.
Pro tip kids: never hit send on angry tweets when the Saints are losing early because with Drew Brees, you never know. Also cat food is indeed disgusting.
The Saints 25 points on the surface may look disappointing because of their inability to score touchdowns, but I promise you, Seattle's defense won't allow another team to score 6 straight times the rest of 2016. It was truly a masterpiece performance by Brees and a great game plan by Sean Payton.
I'd have believed the dead would rise from the grave and help the Saints beat Seattle on Halloween Eve before I'd believe Tim Hightower would run 26 times for 102 yards against the best defense in the NFL. The only thing more amazing than Hightower rushing for 100 yards, is B.W. Webb making the clinching play in two of the Saints three wins.
2016 is starting to get weird guys, which considering the Saints started 0-3, isn't a bad thing at all.
Drew Brees was so good Sunday. He was on point against a Seahawk defense that bullied the Saints twice in 2013. Great quarterbacking isn't just about putting up huge stats; Brees was 27 of 35 for 265 yards and not once did he put the ball at risk. The Saints ran for 123 yards on 35 carries and stayed out of third and long situations. The Saints were 9-15 on third downs, against a Seahawks defense that allows 34 percent conversions on third downs.
I say again: masterpiece.
For all of you fans out there who believe in offensive balance, Sunday was your dream, as Saints ran it 35 times and threw it 35 times. I'm not a big fan of balance, as much as I'm a fan of 'whatever works', but give the Saints credit for never panicking down 14-3.
While the Saints offense was throwing body blows at the best defense in football, the Saints defense was doing JUST enough to get the win. Let's not get carried away and pretend like the Saints defense turned a corner today, but creating a turnover, holding Seattle to 74 yards rushing, and 5 of 11 on third downs is about as much as we can ask of this group.
Besides Atlanta, Seattle is probably the team I hate the most. The fact the Saints won in part because the Seahawks got flagged for 11 penalties, and the Saints may have run an illegal pick for a critical score, made this win so much sweeter. Sad Pete Carroll is the best Pete Carroll.
So as the calendar turns to November, where exactly are the 2016 Saints? In about as good a spot as we could have dreamed in August considering the injuries and their overall mediocre roster.
Have you noticed for the second time in three years the NFC South might the worst division in football? I think it is. There isn't a bit of difference between first place Atlanta Falcons and last place Carolina Panthers. This is the division where mediocrity will mean a home playoff game.
I know you are probably screaming at your computer screen, “Ralph, we are seeing the same movie for the third year in a row! Saints start awful, scrap and clawl to 4-4, then break our hearts by collapsing.”
I get the Saints are the Sisyphus of the NFL. For those of you not familiar, Sisyphus is the guy in Greek mythology forced to roll a giant boulder up a hill, only to watch to it come back and hit him, then repeat it again and again for eternity. In our version the Saints are Sisyphus, and being over .500 in November is the boulder. Always so close, but so very far away.
Maybe 2016 is different, maybe it's exactly the same. Only the next 9 weeks will tell us, but as I've said many times, I want the Saints to be interesting and their games to mean something as long as possible. I want to talk myself into the Saints going 8-8 and winning the NFC South.
Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment? Maybe. We are going to watch regardless, so I'd rather watch the Saints with a little bit of hope, then with no hope at all.
The 2016 Saints officially have hope on Halloween.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast.
(© 2016 WWL)
(© 2016 WWL)