2 And 4
I can’t remember the last time the Saints were counted down and out before a game. Wait… it’s coming to me… yes… every game this season and last season and all throughout the 2009 playoffs and Superbowl 44. Oh well, it’s nice to know some things never change.
Unless you regard our defense. Jonathan Vilma defended one pass last week but other than that he recorded no stats. Even Curtis Lofton didn’t make 50% of his average tackles, but that’s because every other player on the D stepped up. Is it Vilma’s leadership or is this a defense that is finally finding it’s rhythm? Tonight, I predict, will illustrate changes for the better. Yes we’re still hemorrhaging yardage but we’ve managed to staunch the scoring blood enough to put our offense in control of the game and that is a step in the right direction.
The Saints face the Denver Broncos tonight whose greatest threat is Peyton Manning: 2-3 against the Saints. His only wins were blowouts in 2003 and 2007, before the Saints knew what teamwork and victory really felt like. Manning’s greatest loss to us came, of course, in 2010 as Tracy Porter picked him for 6 to propel the Saints to their first Superbowl victory. Now, however, Tracy and Peyton are like, BFF’s or something in Denver. I gotta wonder what that locker room was like in training camp!
And Tracy is the Broncos’ second biggest threat. Unfortunately for them, it looks like he might have to miss the game due to seizures resulting in vertigo-like symptoms. He’s been having these since training camp and sat out the SD Chargers game because of them. I feel for him–still love him–but he’s on the other side tonight and I just gotta say: Sit, Tracy. Sit. Don’t even get up to tell your coaches what you think we’re about to do. Just sit.
I’ll give the same advice to the Saints for this matchup as I did when they beat Peyton in 2010… control the run and disrupt the pass. Denver’s run game is barely scratching 100 yards/game so we should be able to handle that despite previous empirical evidence. All that’s left is to pressure Peyton. He couldn’t handle it healthy–ask the 2004-05 Championship Steelers–and he certainly can’t handle it after sitting out a full season with a pencil-neck injury. Dog him. Pursue him relentlessly until he cries the bitter tears of failure. I’m not kidding.
You see, Peyton Manning is a football robot. He’s an uber-accurate reader of defenses and if they do exactly what he thinks they’ll do, picks them apart. But if Steve Spagnuolo can manage to disguise our D and send players off in unanticipated directions, Peyton’s program locks up. He’s not Big Ben or Mike Vick, hell, he’s not even Eli Manning, and he can’t think and move at the same time. I’m really not trying to dog him out here, that’s just who he is… a wax-on, wax-off kind of guy. Get close to him. Put your breath in his face. Force him out of the pocket and watch him eat the yardage or throw the ball away, hopefully into Roman Harper’s waiting arms. (Or Vilma, or Lofton, or White, Jenkins, or Robertson… I don’t really mind which Saint comes down with Peyton’s passes.) And when he makes eye-contact with you as he’s dragging himself back up from the turf… give him a wink and a smile. The kind of look that says, “I’ll be right back, dear!”
That’s really all there is to it. Despite what the mavens and programs say, I’m going out on a limb here calling it New Orleans Saints: 34 – Denver Broncos 24. And I think Roman Harper pulls a Porter on Manning just for kicks… or possibly, six! Now let’s all get our Crunk on and make it happen!
Drew Brees (3779) needs 9 completions to take 7th place from Vinnie Testaverde (3787) on the NFL’s all-time pass completion list. Brees (42839) needs 202 passing yards to take 9th place from Dan Fouts on the NFL all-time yardage passing list. Brees (299) needs one passing TD to tie John Elway (300) for 6th place on the NFL all-time passing TD list and two to take it from him. The irony keeps coming as he’ll attempt this against Elway’s beloved Broncos.
Brees sole INT early in the 1Q last week was his 100th as a Saint. He remains in 2nd place, 57 interceptions behind Archie Manning.
Pierre Thomas‘ (24) moved out of his tie with George Rogers and Reuben Mayes and into sole posession of 5th place on the Saints all-time rushing TD list. Tony Galbreath (27) sits in 4th awaiting the inevitable.
Marques Colston (318) tied Dalton Hilliard for 5th place on the Saints all-time points list. He’s now two TD’s away from Deuce McAllister’s (330) 4th place mark. Colston (53) also tied Hilliard’s number 2 spot on the Saints all time TD list.
Lance Moore (272) moved into 7th place past Hoby Brenner (267) and Quinn Early (270) on the Saints all-time reception list.
Garret Hartley’s next XP will be his 100th! After that it’s just 44 more to take 3rd place from Doug Brien! Hartley (49) is also just 4 FG’s away from Charlie Durkee’s 4th place spot on the Saints all-time list.
Roman Harper (444) passed Sammy Knight (440) on the Saints all-time tackles list taking 6th place with him.