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Observations from Section 139, vs. the Texans, week 3
The Saints are 2-1 after three straight emotional games to start the season. First, opening the NFL season on a Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl champions--this is not a normal regular season affair. Next, the opportunity to finally host the hated Bears and their fans in the Superdome and get some revenge. Then, just when you thought it couldn't get any more intense, the Saints host the Texans on the five year anniversary of the legendary Superdome re-opening Saints/Falcons game (still the best game I've ever attended or watched--yes, better than any playoff games or the Super Bowl). As if that wasn't enough, the Who Dat nation learned of cult hero Steve Gleason's battle with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease on Sunday morning. There weren't many dry eyes in the dome as Gleason led the pre-game who dat chant Sunday, just as there weren't when he made perhaps the most famous play in Saints history back in 2006. (Follow Gleason's story and battle against ALS on Twitter @Team_gleason)
As far as the actual game is concerned, this was a shootout. The first half was not promising for who dats as the Texans moved the ball at will against Gregg Williams' defense. Of course, it must be noted that Jonathan Vilma, the Drew Brees of the defense, was out. Even though the Saints D did get shredded a bit, Vilma's replacement, Jo-Lonn Dunbar had a spectacular game with ten combined tackles (six solo). Defensive End Will Smith also had a decent game in his first week back after his suspension with four tackles. You also can't forget about Cornerback Jabari Greer who came up with a huge fourth quarter interception. All in all, the defense bent but did not break. Hopefully the return of Vilma and cornerback Tracy Porter will make a significant difference.
Now to the real stars of the game, the Saints offense. Just another day for Drew Brees as he went 31 for 44 with 370 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (one of which was not his fault). Enough can't be said about the impact Darren Sproles is having on this team. Yesterday he had thirteen touches for over 200 yards and a touchdown. Every time this guy touches the ball he makes something happen. It almost makes me laugh at how over-valued Reggie Bush was here in New Orleans. Jimmy Graham had a nice day and rebounded from a terrible rout running mistake that cost Brees and the Saints an interception. Graham finished as the leading receiver with 4 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. One more observation: Lance Moore is back. After a quiet week against the Bears, he was instrumental in the game winning drive. The Saints dialed up the Moore two-point conversion play used in the Super Bowl TWICE, and both times it worked to perfection. His final stats (which nearly all came from the fourth quarter): 9 receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Considering the tough, emotional opening three games, the Saints look poised to make a nice run. The black and gold travel for the next three weeks taking on the beatable Jaguars, Panthers and Buccaneers. After the road trip, they get the Colts at home, the Rams on the road, and a rematch against the Bucs at home. Depending on what you think of Tampa Bay, the Saints could easily be 8-1 or 7-2 going in to the Falcons game on November 13th. I can't help but be overly optimistic about the 2011 Saints.
Oh, and those throw back uni's were sick.
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