Rapid Reaction: Saints 38, Dolphins 17
September, 30, 2013
By Mike Triplett | ESPN.com
NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints' 38-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins, which moved the Saints to 4-0.
What it means: The Saints were off to a great start even before their potent passing offense really got going. Then they exploded Monday night against the previously-unbeaten Dolphins. The Saints still need to find their run game, but it sure looks like quarterback Drew Brees and dynamic playmakers Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Marques Colston are in peak form, which makes the Saints bona fide Super Bowl contenders again. The Dolphins have a solid defense, but they couldn’t figure out how to contain all of those guys.
Brees adds to legacy: Brees completed 30 of 39 passes for 413 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. In the process, he passed Fran Tarkenton for sixth place on the NFL’s all-time passing yardage list (now with 47,353). Brees also tied his own NFL record with nine consecutive 300-yard passing games. And he continued a ridiculous run of “Monday Night Football” dominance. He and the Saints now have a nine-game MNF win streak in which he’s thrown 28 touchdown passes and just five interceptions.
Stock watch: Sproles was a monster Monday, with seven catches for 114 yards, four runs for 28 yards and two touchdowns (though he ended on a low note with a late fourth-quarter fumble). Sproles was contained a bit in 2012 by injuries and constant bracket coverage from opposing defenses. But he offered the Dolphins a painful reminder that they can’t leave him in single coverage. While Miami was focused on containing Graham at tight end, Sproles got all 114 receiving yards and both of his TDs before halftime.
Defensive assist: For the first time this season, the Saints’ revamped defense took a back seat to the offense -- but only barely. Two huge first-half turnovers helped New Orleans break the game open (a forced fumble by linebacker Curtis Lofton and an interception by cornerback Jabari Greer). Both led to touchdowns. A first-quarter third-and-1 run stuff by defensive tackle John Jenkins was also big. And in the second half, the Saints started piling on the sacks.
What’s next: The Saints leave the comfort of home the next two weeks with treacherous road games at the Chicago Bears (3-1) and the New England Patriots (4-0). The Saints struggled in their only other road game this year, at Tampa Bay in Week 2. These next two games will tell a lot about their makeup -- and could help determine if they get to play at home during the playoffs.