Rapid Reaction: Saints 31, Lions 17

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
11:43
PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- Thoughts on the New Orleans Saints’ 31-17 victory against Detroit on Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

What it means: The Saints are 9-3 and closing in on an NFC South title (of course, the fact Atlanta lost to drop to 7-5 helped). More significantly, the Saints seem to be putting it together at the right time. Since an embarrassing loss to St. Louis on Oct. 30, the Saints have been very impressive in four straight victories. Their defense was especially good early on against the Lions. Receiver Calvin Johnson was held to two catches in the first half. The offense had pretty much put the game away by halftime. Speaking of the defense, I don’t think that it was any coincidence this performance came as middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the unquestioned leader of the defense, returned from a knee injury.

Weird stat of the night: Believe it or not, this was the third straight game in which the Saints, who are known for their prolific offense, did not score a touchdown in the first quarter. They scored only a field goal. Last week against the Giants, the Saints did not score in the first quarter. In a victory against Atlanta two weeks ago, the Saints only had a field goal in the first quarter.

Milestone night: In only his second year, tight end Jimmy Graham went over the 1,000 yard receiving mark. Graham is the first New Orleans tight end to have 1,000 receiving yards in a season.

Redemption time: Second-year cornerback Patrick Robinson got beat on a pass to Titus Young as the Lions were driving late in the second quarter. But Robinson bounced back to block a field-goal attempt as the second quarter ended and the Saints went into halftime with a 24-7 lead.

Three in a row: The Saints clinched their third consecutive winning season. They now have winning seasons in four of coach Sean Payton’s six seasons.

Dome Patrol: The Saints are 6-0 at home this season. The only other time the Saints started off by winning their first six home games was 2009. Yep, that's the season they won the Super Bowl.

What’s next: The Saints travel to Nashville to play the Tennessee Titans at LP Field next Sunday.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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