NEW ORLEANS — If there is one word to describe the New Orleans Saints 21-9 playoff win against the Chicago Bears, it would be: Inevitable.
When the Bears dropped a beautifully designed and executed trick play, failed to cash in on a Saints turnover, and then fell behind 14-3 in the third quarter — the game felt so over that I switched to the Nickelodeon Channel broadcast of the game to try to get my 5-year-old son more interested in football.
By the way, it totally worked. The slime zone and funny graphics were great. The NFL should do way more of that. Sean Payton even got in on the fun and got slimed after the game to celebrate.
I'm 44-years-old and have very few rules in life. One of them is to never complain about a Saints playoff win. 21–9 — a little messy in the first half but total cruise control after the break was fine by me.
My only disappointment was Drew Brees falling short on his 4th down sneak attempt and denying us the score of 28-3 and the ability to laugh at and be incredibly petty to Atlanta Falcons fans on social media.
Besides that? Sunday was mostly a stress-free second 30 minutes.
The Saints defense only allowed the Bears 1 third-down conversion and 48 rushing yards.
The only mistake the Saints defense made all day when the game was competitive was getting their pants pulled down on a terrific trick play the Bears ran to perfection, only to see Javon Wims drop a perfectly thrown Mitchell Trubisky pass.
Sean Payton after a loss to the Green Bay Packers compared the defense's ability to defend play-action and bootleg plays to a high school team. On Sunday the Bears' longest gain on a bootleg was 9 yards. The Saints only had 1 sack, but Trubisky never looked comfortable. He wasn't the complete train wreck I expected either.
In the power invested in me, I declare Chauncey Gardner-Johnson a member of the Saints Hall-of-Fame and owner of the Chicago Bears receiving corps.
Ceedy Duce, as he calls himself on social media, got ANOTHER Bears receiver thrown out of the game, even after the Bears head coach Matt Nagy admitted Chicago tried to prepare for Johnson's antics.
“We spent time literally showing and explaining a particular player’s actions in games and teaching it," Nagy said. "It’s something where our guys — we all gotta understand, — we gotta be stronger and we can’t have that happen.”
At least have some dignity and say his name Matt, he's your daddy now.
While the defense was putting together the best 60 minutes ever played by a Saints team on that side of the ball in the postseason, the offense struggled in the same way it has in its previous two playoff exits; the offensive line was deficient most of the day. Former Saints Akiem Hicks, Mario Edwards, and John Jenkins all gave the Saints interior offensive line fits.
The Saints and Drew Brees managed to overcome it and do more than enough to win comfortably.
Alvin Kamara had a hard-earned 99 yards on 23 carries. The Saints were incredibly fortunate to have Kamara be eligible for the game after contracting COVID. The Saints without Kamara Sunday may have been in a much tighter affair.
Michael Thomas returned and looked pretty good catching 5 balls for 73 yards and a score. The biggest surprise on Sunday was Deonte Harris returning and grabbing 7 passes for 83 yards.
The Saints probably didn't play well enough Sunday to beat any other 2020 playoff team, but thankfully they got to play the Bears.
The Saints now get to be the center of the football world again as we get Drew Brees vs Tom Brady for a third time.
I don't need to tell you the Saints vaporized the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last time the two teams met 38-3. The only thing saving the Bucs from a shutout was the saddest of field goals.
Brees said after the Saints win Round 3 with Brady and the Bucs seemed preordained. “I guess it was inevitable,” Brees said.
The Saints have won 10 playoff games in their history, Brees has been the quarterback for 9 of them. Now, he'll face the greatest postseason winning quarterback in the history of the sport, to close out his career in the Superdome.
This is going to be a nerve-racking, pressure-filled final Drew Brees home game as a Saint; it's also going to be an incredibly fun build-up to the game.
Nothing is better than the Saints playing in the biggest game of the week. This is why we invest so much in this silly sport and rooting for this team. I plan on binging and gorging on Saints-Bucs content all week getting ready for next Sunday. I'd advise you to do the same.
The road for another Saints Super Bowl goes through Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers. Enjoy the ride because playoff wins around here are still mostly rare and something to be relished, cherished and reveled in. We just need 3.
Ralph Malbrough is a contributing writer and Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @SaintsForecast or download the Saints Happy Hour Podcast.