NEW ORLEANS — Some of you might say the Saints winning Sunday didn't matter because they are 4-7 so what's the big deal? My retort, “I hate the Los Angeles Rams DEEP within my soul in ways that might be unhealthy.”
Andy Dalton's 52-yard touchdown throw to Chris Olave was the most excited I've been since the miracle win Week 1 in Atlanta. It helped the Saints secure a 27-20 win and the day I don't enjoy the Saints beating the Rams is the day I do something else on fall Sundays.
Beating the Rams is right up there for me with beating the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams have delivered so much heartache to Saints fans through Mike Lansford, Flipper Anderson, the no-call, and injuring Drew Brees in 2019. I enjoyed the Saints kicking the defending Super Bowl Champion when they were down. I probably enjoyed it a little too much. I regret nothing.
The Saints got their fourth win of the season overcoming so many injuries, it was hard to keep track of all the missing guys. The Saints were so injured, Andrus Peat dressed for the game, but didn't play, because the Saints barely had enough healthy bodies to have active.
Watching the Saints Sunday, it's now crystal clear to me, Dennis Allen isn't getting fired. The Saints are still playing hard for him, despite another season of massive injuries, and if the Saints somehow win in San Francisco next week, they'll have the exact same record after 12 games as they did in 2021.
The Saints aren't a good team, but neither are the Rams, and the Saints dominated in the second half by scoring on their first 3 possessions. It was really nice for a change for the Saints to have a 'get right' game against a terrible team.
Andy Dalton is going to be hard-pressed to play a better game than he did Sunday. He was 21-25 for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns. Except for some ill-advised sacks, Dalton was flawless. It's amazing how much fun football can be without turnovers and penalties. The Saints put up 323 yards of offense down 3 offensive linemen, Michael Thomas, and Jameis Winston. I don't care what team it was against, that's a hell of a job.
The Saints mixed in more Taysom Hill, which is always a good idea because Taysom is fun, and in this season gone wrong, fun is all I want on Sundays. The thing with Taysom is, he can't really be a huge factor if the Saints can't convert 3rd downs. They did and had the ball for 31 minutes. More possession = More Taysom.
Juwan Johnson might be my favorite Saint of 2022. He had 4 more grabs and a touchdown. Johnson has 31 catches, 350 yards, and 5 scores on the year and has worked his tail off to become a really nice NFL tight end. It's cool to see players work hard and become good. He's the Saints' second most consistent receiver behind Olave, which in August would have felt ridiculous to even consider.
While the Saints offense was surprisingly thriving missing guys, what the defense did was maybe more impressive. The Rams moved the ball, and the Saints continued to not tackle great, or create turnovers, but as Demario Davis explained they just battled, “It's quite phenomenal when you think we don't have Lattimore, we don't have Roby, we don't have Davenport, we don't Cam Jordan, we lose Payton Turner, we don't have Pete Werner.
You think about all the guys we have that play at a high level that's not in our lineup on the defense. For us to still go out and execute is phenomenal. It feels really good. One of our slogans is most people don't care about your problems, the rest of the people are glad you got them.”
The Saints just fought on defense. Did you know since Week 3 the Saints have had the most sacks in the NFL? Yep. Demario Davis leads the way with 6.5 and the Saints just didn't crack when the Rams kept running the ball and running the ball, waiting for those big runs Pittsburgh got to come for them. They are still waiting. The Saints only allowed 1 run of over 20 yards, to backup quarterback Bryce Perkins.
The defense also got in on the act of having young players step up. Kaden Elliss followed up his Pittsburgh game with another great performance. In the last 3 weeks, Ellis has had 23 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Elliss is a free agent in 2023 and I demand Mickey Loomis do salary cap magic to keep him.
Seeing Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay looking like a man who wants to push the 'Sean Payton take a season off' button made the win extra special. McVay on Sunday looked like me when I'm cleaning my cats' litter boxes; he wanted to be ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD but where he was.
So where do the Saints go from here? To San Francisco in what feels like a terrible match-up, but maybe the Saints will get some players back and can surprise us with another win over an old NFC South rival?
Sunday was fun again Saints, in a season that's gone sideways, just give us 6 more of these, please. High effort, some big plays, and some young players to get excited about.
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.