There are no longer any undefeated teams in the NFL thanks to the New Orleans Saints. The Saints won a close one at home against their rivals the Atlanta Falcons to the tune of 31-27. This was a game no one thought the Saints would win, but they played a great game and pulled it out down the stretch.
The Saints are now 4-5 and if they keep up their great play they could have a shot at a wildcard bid. The NFC is tight right now, but the Saints are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, as they have won their last four out of five games. The fact that the Saints handed the Falcons their first loss of the season makes this victory a little sweeter.
The Saints won this game because they played great on both sides of the ball and they executed when it mattered. Drew Brees had another great game as he threw for 298 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The main beneficiary of Brees’ passes was tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham proved that his ankle is fine, as he hauled seven receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. It appears that Brees and his receivers are firing on all cylinders, which bodes well for the Saints’ offense. However, I truly believe it is the Saints’ ground game that made the difference this week much like it did last week.
Over the past two games the Saints have been able to establish an effective ground game and it has helped the team secure two straight victories. Once again it was the ground game that came up big for the Saints as the team carried the ball 29 times for 148 yards and a touchdown. Reserve running back Chris Ivory had another huge game as he had seven carries for 72 yards and one touchdown. Ivory’s touchdown was a career long 56-yard run and he is really forcing the coaching staff’s hand right now.
Since Darren Sproles went down with his hand injury, it has been Ivory who has been the most efficient running back. Even if Sproles comes back next week the Saints’ coaching staff must find some playing time for Ivory because no one has earned it more. Ivory is the main factor in the Saints’ recent ground game resurgence and he deserves to be rewarded. With the play of Ivory the ground game is really starting to come together which is great news for the Saints.
The Saints’ offense seems to firing on all cylinders but it is their defense that has really improved these past two games. I know the Saints gave up 411 yards and three touchdowns to Matt Ryan on Sunday, but the defense stepped up when it mattered and really helped put the Falcons away.
Rookie cornerback Corey White recorded his first career interception on Sunday that helped the Saints’ defense come up with a big play. However, it was the veteran cornerback, Jabari Greer that sealed the win for the Saints. Greer saved a potential game winning touchdown for the Falcons as he defended a pass in the end zone. So, yes, the defense gave up a lot of yards but they got it together when it mattered and the Saints won the game.
Next up for the Saints is a road game against the 3-6 Oakland Raiders. The Saints are looking to grab a wildcard berth by the end of the season so every game from here on out is crucial. I think the Saints should be able to get a win despite playing on the road. At this point in the season the Saints are peaking while the Raiders are slipping and the Saints must take advantage of this.