The New Orleans Saints crushed the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night, 62-7.
There was no point in even watching the game after the first quarter. The Saints scored 21 points, did not face a third down and completely dominated every facet of the game.
Not much changed in the next three quarters.
The starters from both sides did not even bother playing in the fourth quarter, as the outcome of the game had been decided well before then.
While it is tempting (and not very far off) to automatically put every player from the Saints in the winners column and every Indianapolis player in the losers column, let's take a slightly deeper look.
Here is what really stood out (for good or for miserable) from the Saints-Colts game.
Marques Colston and Drew Brees needed some time this season to establish their connection. Colston was injured early in the year and the two just did not have the same chemistry that they did in previous seasons.
Last week against Tampa Bay, Colston and Brees found their spark and they continued the trend against the Colts.
Brees’ first pass of the night was to Colston, showing the quarterback had confidence in his receiver to set the tone for the game. Colston responded as he ended the Saints’ first two drives with touchdown catches.
He caught seven passes (out of the seven thrown his way) for 98 yards on the night. Colston is clearly taking the steps necessary toward establishing himself as Brees’ go-to receiver again.
Sean Payton, usually the fire on the Saints sideline, was stuck in the press box with a torn meniscus and broken leg. Even in such a one-sided game, it cannot be fun for Payton to have to sit calmly and quietly so far from the field.
Payton loves relaying plays to his quarterback and can always be found jumping up and down and screaming directions to his players.
The coach is undoubtedly hoping his leg heels soon enough for him to be back on the sidelines in the near future. In a closer game, he might not be able to contain himself all the way up there.
When Joseph Addai decided his hamstring wasn’t quite ready to go (or maybe he took a look at the scoreboard and decided it wasn’t quite worth it), Delone Carter stepped up.
One of the few bright spots on an otherwise miserable Colts offense, Carter rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries. He had a 42-yard run to set up the Colts’ lone touchdown and did not back down from the Saints defenders.
Even when Addai’s hamstring (or pride) is ready to play, Carter has proved himself worthy of carries in big games. Having two capable running backs would take more pressure off Curtis Painter.
I feel bad even writing about what the Colts did wrong. The game did not even seem fair—it was like an NFL team taking on a college team. A Pac-12 South college team at that.
It wasn’t as if the Colts made costly mistakes, they were just absurdly overmatched. They didn’t even have a chance to miss tackles because they were so well blocked by the Saints offensive line.
The Colts offensive line couldn’t free up running lanes and didn't give Curtis Painter time to throw. When Painter did have time to throw, he was intercepted.
There is no point in listing what could be improved here. I’ll keep it short: everything.
Drew Brees set a record by completing more than 10 passes in the first quarter. The Saints did not face a third down until the second quarter and scored touchdowns on their first four drives with almost perfect play. Most of New Orleans’ success was because of Brees.
The quarterback has had some great moments this season, but he has also struggled at times. Against the Colts, a mistake-free, poised Drew Brees was on the field. Brees was 31-of-35 for 325 yards and five touchdowns. He had a 145 quarterback rating.
Brees found open receivers, took what the defense gave him and, most importantly, did not try to force passes. It is true Brees was playing against a depleted Colts secondary, but this game should still be a confidence boost going forward.
The Saints did not punt once in the first three quarters. Their first punt came with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Only one New Orleans' kickoff was not a touchback.
The poor Colts kick returners must have been quite bored. Half the time, they didn’t even get to catch the football because Thomas Morstead’s kicks would clear the end zone entirely.
There was no chance to break off a big return to set the Colts offense up with good field position, no chance at personal glory.
On the other hand, though, they also did not have to risk getting plastered to the turf by the Saints defense, so maybe this should be a win.
Darren Sproles is fast. Like, really fast.
I am well aware of this fact, yet every time Sproles touches the ball, my reaction is always the same. My eyes are glued to the screen and about halfway through the play, I say “Whoa! Is that Darren Sproles? He is fast!”
Sproles has a gift in that he can harness his speed, change direction and find holes even when moving at the speed of light. These skills were on full display Sunday night.
Sproles ran around, through and over the Indianapolis defense time and again. When both Brees and Sproles are piling up yardage, the Saints are almost impossible to beat. Sproles ran for 88 yards and caught a pass for a touchdown.
Sproles did a great job of asserting himself and providing a spark when the Saints needed it. (Well, let’s be honest, they never really needed a spark. It was just a nice change of pace to run instead of pass every once in a while.) He was a valuable offseason addition and will continue to impress with his speed and control.
At this rate, the Colts aren’t going to be beating anyone, which means they will be first in line for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the 2012 NFL draft.
Miami tried its hardest, losing its starting quarterback for the season, relying on Matt Moore and having a celebration for an opposing quarterback on game day. However, this week the Dolphins almost beat the Broncos (despite their excessive Tim Tebow jubilee), which would have severely damaged their chances at drafting Luck.
If the two teams continue their play from this weekend, the Dolphins will have a very bad season. Indianapolis will have a miserable one. The St. Louis Rams are in the mix, too, but no one can touch the Colts at this point. They are the only team this season to be outgained in every game they have played. Indianapolis took the phrase “Suck for Luck” to a whole new level Sunday night.
The Saints did a great job of continually harassing Curtis Painter. New Orleans loves to rush at least six men and the aggressive play paid off Sunday.
Painter hardly ever had time to even check downfield to see if he had receivers free before he was swarmed by the Saints defense. Even when New Orleans’ front line wasn’t getting sacks, it was forcing Painter into incompletions, penalties for intentional grounding or very short gains.
The Saints defense was firing on all cylinders and should look to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks no matter their skill level or experience.