Sunday, December 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: New Orleans Saints
By Mike Triplett
NEW ORLEANS -- A few thoughts on the New Orleans Saints’ 31-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
What it means: This win was about as big as it could get for the Saints. At 10-3, they’re now in great position to win the NFC South and secure the conference's No. 2 seed. Just as important, they quickly got their mojo back after a humbling loss at Seattle six nights ago. Not that there was any concern that the Saints lacked confidence. But to come out and give such a dynamic performance on both sides of the ball on a short week spoke a lot about the Saints’ ability to respond to adversity.
The Saints will play at Carolina (9-4) again in two weeks. Even if they split the series, the Saints would win the tiebreaker if both teams finish 12-4. The Saints need to win any two of their final three games to clinch the NFC South (at St. Louis, at Carolina, vs. Tampa Bay).
Brees hits 50,000: Saints quarterback Drew Brees became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 50,000 yards in his career -- joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and John Elway. He also set an NFL record with his eighth consecutive 4,000-yard season. And he reached both thresholds with an exclamation point -- completing 30 of 42 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns against the Panthers.
The Saints have won 13 consecutive night games inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, including the playoffs. In those games, Brees has thrown for 43 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Stock watch: Nobody was more clutch for the Saints than Marques Colston. He had a monster night, with nine catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. But his biggest catch was his first one -- a terrific, reaching grab for 21 yards on third-and-9 in the first quarter. The Saints were in danger of going three-and-out on their first two drives before Colston made that catch. From that point on, they took off.
Colston has had one of his quietest seasons this year, with only 596 yards and two touchdowns coming into the night. But he proved again that he’s available as a go-to guy for Brees when needed.
Racking up sacks: Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette had three sacks, and end Cameron Jordan had two. Jordan, who seems like a shoo-in for his first Pro Bowl, now has 11.5 sacks this season.
What’s next: The Rams (5-8), the Saints' next opponent, have lost two straight games, including 30-10 at Arizona on Sunday. But they've had some impressive wins in an up-and-down season. So the Saints can’t fall asleep at the wheel -- especially on the road, where they've been inconsistent this season.