Alvin Kamara snatches the ball away from Rayshawn Jenkins | Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
New Orleans was both good and lucky last night
Good morning Y’all
As always, for our novice readers or non-New Orleanians, welcome!
Let’s start with some definitions:
Beignets (English: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], ben-YAY literally bump) are distinctly New Orleans, a delicacy intimately connected to the city’s rich French heritage. Best enjoyed heavily powdered with sugar.
This is your “After-Saints-Game” brunch, where we talk about the state of the Black and Gold, we debate the goings-on with the team and talk about what’s next at this point of the season. So, sit back, take a bite and a sip while your brain slowly wakes up, and let’s catch up on some football.
What Just Happened?
Coming off their 35-29 win in Detroit, the New Orleans Saints (3-2) were welcoming the Los Angeles Chargers (1-4) to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a clash with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. The first quarter started inauspiciously, as the Chargers would drive down the field for a touchdown on their second possession of the game, capped by a touchdown pass from Herbert to wide receiver Keenan Allen. The Chargers would however miss the extra point, one that would turn out to be crucial later in the game. The Saints would eventually make a field goal, trailing 6-3 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, New Orleans would shoot itself in the foot on defense as it has done multiple times this season: After a sack of Herbert that would’ve given the ball back to the offense, a roughing the kicker penalty against Dwayne Washington on the punt would give the ball back to the Chargers. Los Angeles would happily retake the ball and score a touchdown to take a 13-3 lead.
With the Chargers up 13-3, Drew Brees would then float a ball into an impossible window to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith; the pass would be intercepted by Chargers’ safety Nasir Adderley and returned to the Saints’ one-yard line. The drive would result in a touchdown from Justin Herbert to tight end Hunter Henry, giving Los Angeles a big 20-3 lead with 4:25 left in the half. Following another punt by New Orleans, the Saints would force the Chargers to punt as well and Drew Brees and company would finally get going, getting into the end zone in a lightning quick drive that took one minute and forty-two seconds, bringing the score to 20-10 in favor of Los Angeles at halftime.
In the second half
The Saints would start with the ball, but after gaining one first down, give up a sack of Drew Brees and punt. After forcing a Chargers’ punt, the Saints would get into Chargers territory and stall, leading to Wil Lutz would effortlessly converting a 53-yard field goal to bring the further narrow the Chargers’ lead to 20-13. Following yet another punt by the Chargers, the Saints would go on a long drive that culminated into Drew Brees launching his longest throw of the evening, a 41-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook. After the extra point, the Saints had knotted the game at 20 with 11 minutes to go in the game.
On their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Chargers would drive the ball just shy of midfield, but be forced to punt yet again. The Saints would not be able to take advantage and punt as well. On Los Angeles’ ensuing drive, Patrick Robinson would let Mike Williams run free behind him while peeking into the backfield, resulting in a 64-yard touchdown throw, the Chargers going back in front to a 27-20 lead.
With only over three minutes left in the game, the Saints would take the ball and drive into the Chargers red zone. The drive would result in a Taysom Hill touchdown run on 3rd-and-4, with Wil Lutz adding an extra point to tie the game at 27 with 52 seconds left.
The Chargers would have one more chance drive to win the game with a field goal, taking the ball deep in their own territory with 47 seconds left. Los Angeles would drive well into Saints’ territory on a deep throw from Herbert to Mike Williams. Los Angeles would then attempt and miss a 50-yard field goal off the right post as time expired, sending the game to overtime and giving the Saints new life.
The Saints would win the toss and get the ball first, hoping to score a touchdown to win the game. New Orleans would get into Chargers’ territory and into the red zone, but stall and settle for a 36-yard attempt by Wil Lutz with 5:08 left in the overtime period and a 30-27 lead.
Los Angeles would then take the ball, and soon face a 4th-and-7 from its own 44-yard line. On the play, Justin Herbert would complete a pass to Mike Williams, but Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who had been victimized by Williams earlier in the game would tackle the Chargers’ receiver just short of the line of gain, ending the game with an improbable 30-27 Saints win.
The Saints now enter their bye week at 3-2, winners of two games in a row and back atop the NFC South division by virtue of their head-to-head win against the Buccaneers. New Orleans can now heal up and come back on the other side of the bye ready to make a run.
Beignets and Café au Lait Awards
Fresh Beignets with Hot Coffee: Emmanuel Sanders.
Two Sundays ago, in Detroit, Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders seemed to start developing a real rapport to the tune of nine targets, six catches and 93 yards. Last night against the Chargers, Brees and Sanders probably made Michael Thomas really regret punching C.J. Gardner-Johnson in practice. The Saints’ quarterback targeted Sanders 14 times, and Sanders rewarded Brees and the team with 12 catches for 122 yards. Sanders displayed his route-running mastery, catching balls on out routes, deep seam routes, comeback routes, etc. It was a beautiful display of the true number two receiver that the Saints envisioned Sanders to be when they signed him this offseason. Now after the bye week and with Michael Thomas back with the team and hopefully not punching anyone, the Saints can finally put Tre’Quan Smith back at the number three wide receiver position, and have an offense that once again will scare the heck out of NFL defenses.
More Fresh Beignets with a Little Sugar on Top: Alvin Kamara.
Even when he’s not being an absolute terror on the field, Alvin Kamara is just a force to be reckoned with. On Monday night, the Saints’ do-everything running back was targeted 10 times and caught eight passes for 74 yards. None more impressive and crucial than the 28-yard reception down the sideline with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter and the Saints trailing 27-20. On that play, Brees threw a 22-yard pass down the right sideline over the head of Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who had tight coverage on Kamara. The Saints’ running back displayed his uncanny balance, while focusing on catching a ball he tipped to himself, bobbled and finally caught while tip-toeing for an extra six yards along the sideline. Three plays later, Taysom Hill would rumble into the end zone for a touchdown, tying the game at 27. Oh, and as if it wasn’t enough, Kamara added 45 rushing yards on 11 carries (a 4.1-yard-per-rush average) and a 31-yard kickoff return in overtime. And in a game that didn’t seem like his greatest effort, he ended up with a cool 150 all-purpose yards. Incredible.
The Saints will enjoy an early bye week and hope to get back to full health ahead of a grueling 11-game marathon to the end of the regular season. After the bye week, New Orleans welcomes the surprising Carolina Panthers, who at 3-2 are matching the much-ballyhooed Buccaneers and the Saints win for win. That game will be followed by a trip to Chicago to face the 4-1 Bears, another tough NFC foe. Following that trip to the Windy City will be the much-anticipated rematch between the Saints and the Bucs in Tampa on Sunday Night Football. Needless to say, the Saints have their work cut out for them when they embark on the journey of the second-half of the season two weeks from now. But at this moment, winners of two games in row, they rest. And we exhale.