Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
I would like to thank the 2011 New Orleans Saints offense for time traveling into the future and saving the 2012 New Orleans Saints season.
Do you have a better explanation about what happened Sunday in Tampa?
The Saints were down 14-0 and looked listless, bored, and completely lost. Then out of the blue the 2011 offense showed up and the Saints scored on four straight possessions. The drives were 80, 80, 79 and 72 yards long. They were ruthless, brilliant and when halftime arrived Drew Brees had 313 yards passing, four touchdowns, and the Saints had a 28-21 lead. The NFL record for passing yards in a game (554) looked very breakable.
Unfortunately the 2011 Saints offense didn't stick around for the second half and the 2012 Saints reappeared and struggled the rest of the game. Brees only had 64 yards passing after intermission and if not for a gift touchdown from Tampa because of the dumbest special teams penalty I've ever seen the Saints might be staring at 1-5.
Why the Saints can't play a complete game offensively I have no idea. They had the ball multiple times with a two-touchdown lead and couldn't put the game on ice. Maybe it's a lack of a consistent running game? All I know is the Saints were dangerously close to coughing up a double digit second half lead for the second time this year.
During their second quarter explosion the Saints were hitting Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, running Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Joe Morgan even got in on the fun with a great TD catch and run. They showed when they play close to or at their potential they can be in every game.
They'll need it because the defense is still unbearable to watch during Sunday afternoons. Tampa came into Sunday 31st in passing offense. All Josh Freeman did was throw for 420 yards and three scores. The worst part was most of his throws were to wide open guys.
Jonathan Vilma's return wasn't the magic cure for the defense. If you expected him to be you probably think a chlorine tablet can make the sewer have clean water. It was nice to see Vilma on the field and he very nearly had an interception return for a touchdown that would have broken Twitter.
Give credit to Malcolm Jenkins for chasing Vincent Jackson down on his 95yard catch and run to keep Tampa out the end zone. His play allowed the Saints to stuff Tampa on four straight plays at the goal line and prevent the tying score. I'm not sure it will turn around 2012 but it darn sure saved the Saints on Sunday.
The run defense did hold up pretty well allowing only 98 yards on 25 carries. So that's something. At this point the defense is so bad when they force a punt I feel like Fox News should interrupt the game with breaking news alert because it's such big event.
The Saints are 2-4 and except for those 35 or so minutes where the offense looked incredible the game felt like a pillow fight between two really bad teams. I still don't think the Saints are very good and they look to me like a five or six win team. If they are going to prove me wrong then it's going to happen the next two weeks. The Saints go to Denver for a Sunday night game against Peyton Manning then return home to face a reeling Philadelphia Eagles team.
The NFC doesn't seem quite as loaded as everyone thought so if the Saints claw back to 4-4 the second half of 2012 might be interesting yet. If the Saints split or drop both then November and December will be about which LSU defensive end they should select. Do you prefer Sam Montgomery or Barkevious Mingo? Right now I prefer Mingo because he seems to have more speed and pure pass rushing skill and Barkevious really is the most awesome Saints player name ever. I'd much rather the Saints be fighting for a postseason spot and then I get to dream up crazy playoff scenarios in December. The next two weeks will tell the tale.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at email@example.com, find him on facebook, follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough or download his podcast at Itunes.