Finally, the talks of the New Orleans Saints’ road woes can be dispatched. Well, for this week, at least. Coming in to tonight’s game, every media outlet that spoke of the matchup made sure to discuss that New Orleans had lost seven straight regular season road games. I have a few thoughts on that. First, let me say that I concur that their struggles away from the Superdome is a topic well worth mentioning. I have no issue with that. But, why is everyone ignoring the Saints’ victory in Philadelphia in the Wild Card playoff game in 2013? Because it’s convenient to look before that so you have a larger stat to throw out there? Their win on the road against the Eagles means a heck of a lot more than a regular season win on the road. It was the playoffs, in the cold, and in primetime, but that game has been ignored in lieu of the chance to say that the team has lost seven straight in the “regular” season. I don’t mean to ramble, but it’s something that has gotten on my nerves since I first heard it and I am more than happy that the “streak” is finally over. With that being said, let’s get to tonight’s magnificent performance!
Coming in to tonight’s game, every team that has scored first in the Thursday night football games has gone on to win the game. Sean Payton usually likes to take the ball when he wins the toss, so I doubt that particular stat was a big deciding factor in the decision to receive, but the thought of getting out to a fast start and setting the tone on the road was certainly in his mind. Drew Brees and the offense looked great right off the bat. It only took the Saints six plays to get in to the red-zone with contribution from Mark Ingram, Brandin Cooks, and Jimmy Graham, but on a 3rd and 6, things went wrong. Brees’ pass to Kenny Stills ricocheted off of the defenders arm and floated in the air for defensive tackle Dwan Edwards to have it fall in to his hands. Just like that, New Orleans had their first turnover of the night and Carolina had the early momentum.
The Panther began moving the ball pretty well on their first drive, getting down the the Saint 39 yard line, but two straight incompletions stalled the drive and forced a punt. Credit Rob Ryan’s defense for a crucial stop following the Brees interception. In the first seven games, six of Brees’ seven interceptions directly led to a touchdown for the opposing team. New Orleans started at their own 10 yard line and again started moving the ball with relative ease. In their first two drives, the Saints had five plays of 18 yards or more. On a 1st and 10 from Carolina’s 39 yard line, the turnover bug struck again when Charles Johnson pushed fullback Eric Lorig back in to Brees, causing him to lose the ball. Mario Addison was right there for the recovery and Carolina was in business with another great opportunity to get points off of a New Orleans turnover. Continue reading