The New Orleans Saints improved to 7-1 on Sunday with a 31-9 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. It was another win for the Saints that was fairly drama-free, as the black and gold took care of business from start to finish and pulled away in the second half. The biggest occurrence was the triumphant return of Drew Brees, which was about 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. Brees shook off the rust and got back in to his groove with the offense, helping get the Saints back to full strength after a slew of injuries on the offensive side of the ball through the first half of the season. Forewarning, I don’t have anyone for the Sinners list in this one. The entire team did a great job from kickoff to the final whistle, with no one making any big mistakes or under-performing. It’s always a good thing when I can’t find anything bad to write about! With that being said, let’s get going.
This can’t come as a surprise. He worked his butt off to rehab and get back to his team as quick as possible, while handling his recovery the correct way and not being reckless about returning. He finished with 373 yards passing and 3 touchdowns on 79.1% completions. He did have one bone-headed interception, but even he quickly admitted post-game that he made an awful decision. Aside from that, he found his open receivers, got rid of the ball quickly to avoid being sacked a single time, and, most importantly, looked healthy. While Teddy Bridgewater deserves endless amounts of credit for going 5-0 and keeping this team near the top of the NFC and in the driver’s seat of the NFC South, it was great to see #9 back under center.
For the second straight game without Alvin Kamara, Murray carried the load and look damn good while doing it. It was 102 yards rushing on 21 carries for a 4.9 yards per carry average, while also adding in 9 receptions for 55 yards in the passing game. He scored a touchdown both on the ground and through the air, with his TD reception being the first of his career. He had been under-used through the first five games of the season before Kamara got banged up, but his performance in the last few games has absolutely proved to Sean Payton that he can and should get a bigger workload, even when AK is back. That’s great news, because with Mark Ingram no longer in black and gold for the first season, Kamara’s touches have been higher. The emergence of Murray allows Payton to spread out the touches to keep both backs fresh.
Ho-hum. Just another 11 receptions, 112 yard, and a touchdown game for the best wide receiver in the NFL. He caught all 11 of his targets, which is always impressive. It’s even more impressive when being shadowed by Patrick Peterson. Thomas is routinely beating the NFL’s best cornerbacks, further proving that he should be in the MVP consideration.
Wasn’t it nice to have the Swiss-Army Knife back? Brees being back on the field didn’t just provide the team with the return of one key player. It allows Payton to go back to using Hill all over the field, instead of having to protect him like he did when he was Teddy Bridgewater’s only backup. He isn’t just a gadget player, either. Hill is lining up at tight end and splitting out in the slot and running legitimate routes, providing another target in the passing game. He hauled in 3 receptions for 63 yards and his third touchdown catch of the season, which is more than guys like DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. The ability to use Hill in the passing game is one of the main reasons I believe the Saints did not make a move at the trade deadline to bring in more help. He will be key for the offense in the second half of the season.
“Who did Ryan Ramczyk erase from the game this week?” is becoming a weekly segment here. This week, it was Chandler Jones. Jones was 3rd in the NFL with 8.5 sacks coming in to the game. He finished with a single tackle, nearly getting the JJ Watt treatment, where Ramczyk keeps someone completely off of the stat sheet. Every week that he shuts down one of the league’s best pass rushers, I’m going to remind you of his list of bodies so far this season.
- JJ Watt
- Jadaveon Clowney
- Demarcus Lawrence
- Shaquil Barrett
- Calais Campbell
- Khalil Mack
- Chandler Jones
The Entire Defense
This may seem like a cop out, but this truly was just a complete effort from the entire defense. Everyone did their job, making things tough on Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense for all 60 minutes. Coverage on Larry Fitzgerald was excellent, holding the future Hall-of-Famer to just 2 receptions for 8 yards. Arizona managed just 237 yards of offense, less than half of what New Orleans put up. They were 2-12 on 3rd down and 0-2 on 4th down conversions. Their 10 first downs were less than the amount of catches Michael Thomas had. Cam Jordan, David Onyemata, and Shy Tuttle each recorded a sack. Like I said, it was a complete, all-around effort from all 11 guys on the field.
That will wrap it up for this game and the first half of the 2019 season. The Saints will enjoy their bye week in Week 9, then return next week as they welcome the 1-7 Atlanta Falcons to the Superdome. Not that it’s been needed, but help will be on the way as the offense gets healthy with guys like Alvin Kamara, Tre’Quan Smith, Jared Cook, and Keith Kirkwood seeing various return points over the next few weeks. We’ll see you this week as we start to prepare for the division rival Falcons. Thanks for stopping by!