Saints FB Heath Evans caught a touchdown from Brees, paved the way for a career-high 158-yard performance by Ivory
Is Chris Ivory the next Ronnie Brown minus injuries?
In a game many were declaring a must-win for New Orleans, the black and gold answered the call wholeheartedly, silencing their critics and giving their fans something to cheer about. From start to finish, the Saints played a very physical, grinding style of football and got back to the type of game that made them so successful last year–all against a legitimate division rival. I’m so excited to see them looking like they’re supposed to, I don’t know where to start. I was so impressed by their performance today.
So just how impressive were they? At half time, Drew Brees was 13 of 21 for 190 yards and had thrown 2 touchdowns (and 1 interception). Chris Ivory had 81 yards on eight carries and Lance Moore had two receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. They led Tampa Bay 17-0 at the half. But for the interception caused by a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage just before the end of the 2nd quarter, it could’ve possibly been more. But we’ll take a three-score lead any time!
I can’t say enough about the power running today. Kudos to the Saints offensive line for a job well done. Leading the fierce ground attack was Chris Ivory, who by the way was nothing short of spectacular! Rushing for 158 yards on 15 carries, his tough, tackle-busting run style was just the shot in the arm the Saints needed to get the momentum flowing. I’ve said it before, if this kid can cut down on the fumbles, I believe he will enjoy a very lucrative NFL career. His counterpart, Ladell Betts ran hard as well and even managed to get into the endzone for a 1-yard touchdown. I was also impressed by the debut of Julius Jones as a Saint. It’s great to see that he still has that burst of speed and toughness for which he’s known. I’ve got to say that if those guys continue to play at that same level and with that much intensity for the rest of the year, the Saints running game will without a doubt be one of the most feared in the league.
And then there’s Drew Brees! Passing for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns, he finally looked like he had his stuff together. As usual, he spread the ball around, letting his receivers, tight ends, running backs and even the full-back get in on the action as he methodically led the team up and down the field. Welcome back, Drew! We’ve missed you.
It was so good to see the team playing up to its potential. The screen was back and I for one was glad to see it. Ivory and company ran hard, allowing the Saints to control the clock. As a result, Brees had more options in the passing game. He didn’t have to rush as much and therefore cut down on the poor decisions because he had plenty of manageable downs to work with. Does anybody recognize this strategy? Sure you do–it’s so last year. And I love it! I’ve been screaming it since the season began– it’s not wise to totally abandon what has been so successful for you in the past. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s tough to defend good offense, no matter how retro it may be. All the Saints have to do is come out and play their style of football on their terms and they will be tough to defend by anyone.
On the negative side of things, there are still too many penalties by our veteran players on offense. They are literally killing drives. Also, Hartley’s woes continue. He made one field goal (barely) and he missed one. I don’t know what’s wrong with him or what can be done about it. Unlike other positions, there aren’t swarms of kickers out there just waiting for a shot. So it’s likely we’re stuck with him. All we can do is hope he gets it together. Special teams need to buckle down and toughen up as well.
Let’s hope that the momentum from this game will carry over into the following weeks. I believe that the Saints have rediscovered (not found) themselves and that’s important. Sometimes a glance backward rivals a look ahead. At 4-2, the Saints are looking good enough to be called world champions.