New Orleans Saints Sink Atlanta Falcons Behind Drew Brees and Pierre ThomasDecember 28, 2010
The kitchen sink came flying at Drew Brees Monday night in the Georgia Dome, and while it made things interesting, in the end it didn’t matter. He threw it right back. Brees gave one of those resilient performances that only champion quarterbacks can deliver. After throwing two fourth quarter interceptions, one of which was returned for an easy touchdown, Brees led a game-winning 90-yard touchdown drive, as well as a game preserving drive to run out the clock in the 17-14 victory.
Don’t think that Brees was the only hero. The defense rebounded from taking the week off against Baltimore. They iced Matt Ryan, slowed the running game and allowed only seven offensive points. They forced a fumble at the goal line. Unlike last week, the defensive line was up to the challenge of stopping the run, often stuffing it at the line of scrimmage.
This was another dominating performance by the swarming Saints defense. The Saints had twice the passing yardage as the Falcons, 302 to 149, and a total yardage advantage of 368 to 215. Falcon star offensive players Roddy White, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez, who had all been unstoppable in the first meeting between these teams, were not factors.
The national media continually stresses that the Saints defense is not creating the turnovers they did last year. What they don’t realize is that the Saints offense last year was a primary cause. Great offense leads to big margins, which cause the team that is behind to try to play catch up, leading to turnovers. This year, the balance of power on the Saints has shifted. The offense has not been as good, but the defense has been better. The games are tighter, and this was typical.
Don’t think the Saints missed Pierre Thomas while he was out? While Brees got all the postgame attention, Thomas was probably the MVP of this one. With over 100 yards running and receiving, Thomas seemed to make a big play whenever it was needed. He made great plays on each touchdown drive and terrific ones in the final drive. He contributed stellar blitz pickup blocks during the kitchen sink phase of the game.
When you look at the Falcons defensive game plan of blitzing so much, it was amazing they didn’t wreak more havoc than the two defensive line interceptions. All-in-all, the Saints offense held their ground, and Thomas was a big part of this.
Let me make sure I understand this. Reggie Bush is under contract for $11.3 million next year, and Pierre Thomas is not under contract. Please, Mickey Loomis, don’t let this guy test the market. He’s a rare commodity—a fundamentally sound running back that can run, catch and block. He hits the right hole, makes tacklers miss and will even run back kicks effectively. In other words, we want to play with him—not against him.
What’s next? Tampa comes to town and will try to repeat what they did at the last regular season Superdome game last year. They fought back from a 10-point deficit to win. The Saints need to prevent that. If, by the longest of shots, Carolina were to beat Atlanta, with a victory the Saints would rocket up to the top seed in the NFC. It would be nice, but it’s a long shot.
The slight hope for Saints fans is that John Fox, in what will surely be his last game as Carolina coach, will throw everything he’s got at the Falcons. You know, the kitchen sink.