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Forecast: Saints Deliver Halloween Magic

The Saints win was so ridiculous I kept waiting for ghouls or ghosts to appear and steal the win.

NEW ORLEANS — The 2021 New Orleans Saints season veered from chaos to Halloween madness during a 36-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday's Saints win was so ridiculous I kept waiting for ghouls or ghosts to appear on Halloween and steal the win. The ghoul in this scenario was Tom Brady and the entire world expected him to drive down and break the entire Caesar's Superdome crowd's heart because that's what Tom Brady does – except the Saints defense dominates Tom Brady like pumpkins dominate Halloween.

We should be enjoying the Saint's new November tradition of humiliating Tom Brady on National TV but instead, the 2021 theme to the Saints season of injuries spoiling things continued with quarterback Jameis Winston having what Sean Payton called a “Significant” knee injury. Winston's season is likely over and there's a list of reasons to feel awful for him, but the first one is he was set to burn that terrible Tampa Bay secondary to the ground and stick it to the team that didn't want him.

The Saints won a football game with a quarterback in Trevor Siemian, who had thrown 6 passes since 2017, completing throws to receivers who haven't caught passes since 2018 like Kevin White. What in the name of Archie Manning was happening?

When we consider the opponent was the defending Super Bowl Champion and greatest quarterback in NFL history Tom Brady, the Saints victory Sunday is the wildest, most unlikely regular-season win in team history.

Sean Payton called the crowd “unremarkable” but it seemed electric at times watching. The return of Mark Ingram gave the crowd as much energy as he did the Saints players. The Saints post-game interview included a joint Cam Jordan, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram interview and if it doesn't bring you happiness we can't be friends.

Mark Ingram said it best, “It was perfect timing. Glad to be back.”

Ingram only 6 carries for 27 yards but the Buccaneers have the best run defense in the NFL and Ingram looked like a guy with something left to give. He's 62 yards away from being the Saint's all-time leading rusher and I expect he will get that record next Sunday against Atlanta.

The Saint defense continued their mastery of Tom Brady by forcing him into 3 turnovers, including a game-sealing interception by PJ Williams which he returned for a touchdown. PJ deserves a statue or at least a plaque commemorating the moment.

Will we remember Sunday's Halloween win as 'The Trevor Siemian game' or 'The PJ Williams game'?

The Saints defense was at times brilliant and at times looked completely helpless as the Bucs erased a 23-7 lead in what felt like less time than it took me to eat 3 pieces of Halloween candy. The infuriating thing about Tom Brady is he's 44-years-old and looks AS GOOD AS HE EVER HAS? How the hell is that possible? The only thing that makes him look his age is pressure which the Saints were able to deliver in spurts.

The good news is the return of David Onyemata and Marcus Davenport paid dividends and the Saints won't face many more teams with as high-powered an offense as Tampa Bay.

Sean Payton has the Saints 5-2, is doing as exceptional a coaching job as I've ever seen, and if he gets this team to the playoffs and doesn't win coach of the year...I'm writing someone a very sternly worded letter.

I'm probably in the minority but I loved Sean Payton being aggressive late in the game and trying to score a touchdown and not settling for a field goal. Payton explained his options clearly after the game. He could run the clock and give Tom Brady the ball back with 1 minute left, no timeouts, and needing a field goal to win or he could try to score a touchdown and make Brady's challenge much more difficult.

He chose the latter and said afterward, “They got time. They got an eternity. I'm thinking score. The perfect scenario is to eat up clock and score, that's easier said than done.”

Besides, did you REALLY trust the Saints kicker to make that kick? Sean Payton is aggressive. It's his nature, I prefer it, and am comfortable living with the results.

So what are we to make of this Saints team's chances for the playoffs? They are only a half-game out of first in the NFC South but don't know who their quarterback will be the rest of the year. Seeing Jameis Winston get injured was heartbreaking. I'm not sure what Winston was going to be with the Saints and now we'll probably never know. Winston knew this opportunity with the Saints was special and he did everything to make it great and be the Saint's long-term answer at quarterback. That's over and it stinks for him and for us. The Saints have lost their starting quarterback for parts or all of the last 3 years and somehow have thrived. It's a testament to the team they've built.

The 2021 Saints might go 12-5 or 5-12. We have no idea what will happen. The 2021 Saints are chaos in football form. Sometimes chaos will swallow you, but sometimes chaos is a ladder to something incredible like Halloween wins over Tom Brady.

Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.