Some of us laughed. Some of us cried. Still, every Saints fan had a blast Sunday, no matter where they watched. This unique “home opener” win was special, but how does it stack up to other regular season specials in 21st century Saints history?
Following weeks of displacement and hurricane recovery for New Orleanians, Jameis Winston’s surgical dismantling of an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team has to be one of my most enjoyable experiences as a Saints fan. Not only was Winston nearly flawless with five touchdowns and zero interceptions, he displayed the arm strength and mobility Saints fans haven’t enjoyed in years.
“That was for the city,” Winston said. “We did that for them. We knew how much it would mean to get a great victory for that region. They’ve been through so much. … Hats off to them for their resilience, because they motivated us. They inspired us to come out there and ball.”
The 55 yard bomb to Deonte Harris was the type of throw Brees hasn’t been able to make the past half decade. Sure, there were some slight accuracy issues like the near overthrow on the second touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson or the off shoulder throw painstakingly caught by Alvin Kamara.
But I’ll take those tiny mistakes in the open field with no defenders around any day as long as Winston continues to take care of the ball as well as he did Sunday.
“Sean says, it’s about the decision, not the result,” Winston said. “If you keep making the right decisions, it will take care of itself. Sean called an amazing game.” Winston’s maturation, along with the offensive line’s ability to reshuffle and never lose a step and ballsy calls like the Harris go route are all perfect examples of why Sean Payton is, at least, a top three head coach in the NFL.
it’s interesting that the saints only had deonte harris run 9 routes across two preseason games. real interesting. wonder if they’re hiding him
— John Sigler (@john_siglerr) September 12, 2021
The Saints entered this game without Ken Crawley at cornerback or Tre’Quan Smith at wide receiver. Marshon Lattimore was questionable with a knee injury, played, left with a thumb injury, and returned with a hand cast to finish the game with three tackles, one pass breakup, and no receptions allowed. Even the franchise’s first round draft pick, Payton Turner, was a healthy scratch. None of that mattered.
Despite all the warning signs as media pundits overwhelmingly picked the Packers to win, Sean Payton coached one of the most complete games in franchise history. The passing game was on fire. The protection gave Winston eons in the pocket.
The running game was solid, and brand new kickers held their ends of the deal with two booming punts for 103 yards from Blake Gillikin and a confident 44 yard field goal from Aldrick Rosas.
High scoring aside, this game was all about the Saints defense. The return of Kwon Alexander brought the Saints defense back to peak form like an instant time machine. On a rub route in the first half, Alexander caught up to his receiver from almost ten yards away to complete a crucial third down stop. This may be the best Saints linebacking corps since the Dome Patrol, and I’m 100% confident in that statement.
Now, we have to talk about the stellar play from the secondary. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw interceptions often. In fact, his career touchdown to interception ratio (4.63-1) is second only to Patrick Mahomes’ (4.75-1).
Only Dan Marino (420-252), Philip Rivers (421-209), Brett Favre (508-336), Peyton Manning (539-251), Drew Brees (571-243), and Tom Brady (581-191) have thrown for more touchdowns than Aaron Rodgers.
Yet, Rodger’s efficiency and ball security are second to none. With 412 careers touchdowns, Rodgers has only thrown 91 interceptions. He owns the NFL record for consecutive passes without a interception (402). From 2018 to 2020, Rodgers only threw nine interceptions, and the Saints managed to nip two in one game.
Rookie cornerback, Paulsen Adebo tracked a wobbly pass perfectly and added a nifty return to nimble effort. Safety Marcus Williams showed the fabulous range he possesses on his interception of a deep overthrow from Rodgers, then capped it off with a badass 53 yard return.
It got so bad for Rodgers, the Packers benched him early in the fourth quarter so they could see what Jordan Love could do, which wasn’t much either. I haven’t seen the Saints relegate such a legend to the bench so early in a game since Bill Belichick pulled out Tom Brady in the Superdome beatdown of 2009.
Pulled Rodgers with 10:46 left in the fourth quarter.
Even earlier than when Belichick pulled Brady in 2009.
— Larry Holder (@LarryHolder) September 12, 2021
Just being able to compare the feelings those two games elicited, gives me chills. They were both such affirming and resplendent games to behold, that got me thinking: What are some of he most enjoyable games in recent Saints’ history?
By no means is this a complete list, and I’d love to hear which games stick out to y’all, but here’s my list of favorite, most enjoyable, dare I say, orgasmic regular season wins in recent Saints memory:
Sept. 25, 2006 Saints 23-Falcons 3 In the Saints’ first home game back in the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina, hope was restored to the city when Steve Gleason blocked a Falcons punt, which was recovered for a touchdown in the end zone by Curtis Deloatch.
It was Drew Brees and Reggie Bush’s first game at home in front of the Who Dat Nation, and would finally stamp the formerly beleaguered franchise as a legitimate contender. “I think it symbolized not only maybe the resurgence of our football team, but the resurgence of the city and the recovery and the rebirth,” Drew Brees said.
Nov. 30, 2009 Saints 38-Patriots 17 In a surprisingly dominant Monday night win over New England, in which the Patriots averaged a club record 9.6 yards per play, Brees completed 18-of-23 passes for 371 yards with five touchdowns. His career-high passer rating of 158.3, was only the second perfect rating in club history. Oh, and Brady got pulled from the game in the fourth quarter and made sour-puss faces, which were greatly enjoyed by all.
Dec. 6, 2009 Saints 33- WFT 10 In a glorious comeback win – the Saints’ first in sub-40 degree weather since 1995 – over Washington in which the Saints erased three separate ten point deficits, the standout plays of the game were Robert Meachem’s two crucial touchdowns. In a whacky back and forth, following a Brees’ interception, Meachem stripped the ball and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining in the first half.
Garrett Hartley shot out of an 11 game dog-house benching, following a four game suspension for Adderall, to score four field goals, including an overtime game winner, that was made possible by a Ryan Succop game-sealing missed field goal from 23 yards. Our hearts stopped several times.
Sept. 20, 2010 Saints 25-49ers 22– In a frenetic away game at one of the most unwelcoming stadiums that boasted hard-core 49ers fans and blustering winds, the Saints managed a gutsy last second win.
Even though the 49ers racked up 417 yards compared to the Saints’ pedestrian 287 yards, the turnover battle and solid special teams play ruled the day. The Saints defense forced four turnovers, Thomas Morstead delivered crucial punts, and Garrett Hartley capped his three field goal day with a game winning kick that literally bounced over the crossbar as time expired.
Oct. 23, 2011 Saints 62-Colts 7 This Sunday night blowout over the Colts, albeit with Curtis Painter filling in for an injured Peyton Manning, set the stage for a historic Saints performance. Jimmy Graham had two goal line touchdowns. Leigh Torrence contributed an electric pick six.
Drew Brees completed 31-of-35 passes for 325 yards with five touchdowns, and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 144.9. The Saints’ point total set a new club record and was tied for the highest total since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. They also set team records for margin of victory (55), first downs (36) and PATs (8).
Nov. 7, 2013 Saints 23-49ers 20 A Sunday “Game of the Week” turned into the game of the season when the Saints and 49ers exchanged leads fives times in the Superdome. The highs and lows were plentiful, especially when a Cory White pick-six turned into a touchback when he fumbled the ball out of the endzone from the one yard line.
A game altering strip sack of Drew Brees was negated by a roughing the passer penalty that only seemed evident after the slow motion replay appeared to show Ahmad Brooks almost decapitate Brees as his neck swayed in a disturbing fashion. Three Garrett Hartley field goals in the fourth quarter helped the Saints surmount a 20-14 deficit, with the final kick closing out the win as time expired.
No matter which awesome games we compare, this dominant blowout win against a legendary franchise with a future Hall of Fame quarterback will certainly join the very top of my short list. Who dat?!?!
Where does this game fall in your list of Saints wins? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, on Instagram @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel.
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