New Orleans-Miami: Dolphins Throw First Punches, but Heavyweight Saints Land KO

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IOctober 25, 2009

MIAMI - OCTOBER 25:  Tight end Jeremy Shockey #88 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after making a first down reception over safety Yeremiah Bell #37 of the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on October 25, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Saints defeated the Dolphins 46-34.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The Saints had never trailed in five games. Suddenly, New Orleans was down 24-3.

Drew Brees was sacked a total of four times in five games and then Miami sacked him five times.

Brees also had gone three games without an interception and was picked off three times against the Dolphins.

Ricky Williams had three touchdowns against the team that drafted him.

None of that mattered.

The New Orleans Saints stormed back to outscore the Miami Dolphins 43-10 as they pulled off their most impressive victory this season, 46-34.

In a game that featured 740 yards of offense and seven turnovers, the Saints possessed something the Dolphins didn't—a knockout punch.

The Dolphins had a chance to put away the Saints after New Orleans missed a field goal with about five minutes left in the first half. Instead, they either punted or turned the ball over on eight out of their next 10 possessions.

The Saints, on the other hand, stepped on the Dolphins' throat once they grabbed the lead.

New Orleans capped off a 22-point fourth quarter with Tracy Porter's pick six with less than two minutes left in the game.

Once again the Saints proved they can win a game when Brees is not at his best.

They won for just the second time ever when their star quarterback throws two or more interceptions.

The only other time they won such a game was in 2006 against Philadelphia, also the sixth game of the season.

New Orleans also proved they can play physically.

Jeremy Shockey, who epitomizes the Saints' physical play, caught a long pass and stiff-armed a helpless Dolphin defensive back to turn a 30-35 yard pass into a 66-yard reception.

The defense, despite allowing 34 points, played spectacularly in the second half.

Tell me if you've read this sentence before: Darren Sharper returned an interception for a touchdown.

Sharper, who is making his case for defensive player of the year, had his sixth interception this season and his third for a touchdown.

His interception off of Porter's tip cut the Dolphins' lead to seven and gave the Saints all of the momentum they needed for a comeback.

Jonathan Vilma was also a force on defense.

He led the team with 10 tackles, including three for a loss. He was a thorn in the side of running back Ronnie Brown, who was held to just 48 yards on 16 carries.

Kudos must also be given to backup defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.

Hargrove filled in for defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, who left the game with a sprained knee. Hargrove finished the game with two sacks and another tackle for a loss.

A year ago, and even in 2006 when the Saints won the NFC South, the Saints would have lost a game like this one.

I did not doubt that the Saints offense would be capable of at least making the game competitive after trailing by three touchdowns. They came into this game averaging 38 points per game.

The question was whether or not the Saints could take the lead and sustain it.

Twice last season (@ Denver and @ Carolina) the Saints trailed by multiple touchdowns before storming back only to lose by two.

The Saints actually took a late one-point lead against Carolina before a late field goal won it for the Panthers.

After six games in 2009, these are clearly not last year's Saints.

These Saints are much much better. These Saints will be playing deep into January and perhaps into February.