Wow, what a game. For fans of the New Orleans Saints, there's only one word to describe yesterday's heart-stopping and at times gut-wrenching 52-38 win over the Detroit Lions.
On the very same day where the Saints' arch-rival Atlanta Falcons were upset in the game's final seconds and next week's opponent — the Green Bay Packers — may have lost their All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season due to a broken collarbone, the Saints defense scored three touchdowns in the same game for the 1st time in the team's entire 51 year history; and scored over 50 points for only the 6th time ever in a wild and crazy 52-38 win inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
It was yet another phenomenal performance by the Saints defense for a 3rd consecutive game; as they had 16 passes defensed, 5 takeaways, and 5 sacks to go along with those 3 touchdowns.
However at one point, the Saints held a 35-point lead (45-10) in the second half; but yet still had to fend off a furious come-back attempt (including 28 straight unanswered points) by the Lions in the 4th quarter, to eventually seal the victory.
Now with 11 games still left to play including another key NFC match-up next week against the Packers in Green Bay, New Orleans finds itself at (3-2) and has a winning record for the first time during the regular season, since 2013.
Additionally, they are now only a half-game out of first place in the NFC South Division, behind the (4-2) division-leading Carolina Panthers.
With that in mind, here are the Saints News Network's 5 biggest "winners and losers" from yesterday's insanity that took place, in the win over the Detroit Lions.......
THE BIGGEST LOSERS
5. THE SAINTS FRONT OFFICE
Actually, our first loser from yesterday wasn't even on the field at the Superdome at all. That's because the "loser' in this instance was the Saints front office — thanks to their trade a few days ago, of former RB Adrian Peterson.
Sure, Peterson didn't "fit" in with the Saints offense, and it's the reason why he was traded; along with the fact that rookie Alvin Kamara needed to have an expanded role in the team's running game.
But in his first game out in Arizona, Peterson made the Saints front office look silly for trading him (even though they were right in doing so, from my perspective) and even made people like myself look foolish for saying that he was likely "washed up". Peterson ROLLED the Tampa Bay defense to the tune of 134 yards rushing and 2 TD's, and proved to EVERYONE that he still "has it".
Adrian Peterson had 0 TDs in 4 games with the Saints.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 15, 2017
The Saints Front Office actually did the right thing for the franchise by trading Peterson — but in the eyes of the rest of the NFL, they'll be looked at as making a bad judgement call on Peterson during his brief few months spent wearing the Black and Gold.
4. WIL LUTZ, KICKER
Although Lutz actually looked fine on his field-goal and extra-point attempts (including one time where he had to re-try the extra point attempt 3 different times because of Saints penalties), it was his two of his kickoffs that left much to be desired.
Lutz's short kickoffs gave the Lions a short field to work with on both of those occasions, one of which eventually led to a Lions TD in the 4th quarter that fueled a furious Detroit come back from 35 points down at one point.
While it's nothing to get all worked up over by any means, in a game such as this one the field-position battle can prove to be critical; and Lutz will have to work out the kinks in that aspect of his overall performance going forward.
3. MICHAEL THOMAS, WIDE RECEIVER
Make no mistake about it: Thomas showing up on this list doesn't make him a "loser" in the literal sense, but rather figuratively speaking since he essentially didn't have the type of game that Saints fans are USED TO him having.
Thomas got "shut down" by Lions CB Darius Slay, who held Thomas to a season-low 11 yards on 3 catches, including one play in which he was awarded a controversial interception after wrestling the ball away from Thomas as the two players fell to the ground.
While these type of games happen from time to time, don't worry too much if you're a Saints fan. After today's disappointing results, you can bet that Thomas will be motivated going forward to avoid having any repeat performances, such as the one that he had yesterday.
2. KEN CRAWLEY, CORNERBACK
For Crawley, it's been a case of "feast or famine". Just a few weeks ago, Crawley was our biggest "winner" in the victory over the Panthers at Carolina; but yesterday it was a completely different story.
Though he did look good on a few plays here and there, he also was BEATEN BADLY on 2 Lions TD's; one on a 51-yard catch and run by Lions WR Golden Tate in the 1st quarter where he and two other Saints DB's "whiffed" on open-field tackles, and again in the 4th quarter against Lions WR Marvin Jones.
While Crawley certainly has improved from this point in time from where he was last year as a rookie, he still has some more growing to do as a young player; and today was the prime example of that harsh reality.
1. DREW BREES, QUARTERBACK
In my article before yesterday's game, I had said that while the Saints defense would be the main reason that the Saints would either win or lose, that they also needed the future Hall-of-Famer to have a mistake-free game, since he has struggled against the Lions in the past 3 seasons that the two teams have met.
True to form, the Lions essentially limited Brees' effectiveness — as the Saints QB completed 21 out of 31 pass attempts for only 186 yards, with 2 TD's but also throwing his first 2 interceptions of the year as well. It was the first time that he was held under 200 passing yards since the 2013 season.
He also threw a "Pick 6" to Lions defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson, which made the score 45-38 midway in the 4th quarter and gave Saints fans everywhere a HEART ATTACK.
However, because of the Saints' defensive performance and their success with running the football with RB's Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, Brees didn't HAVE TO throw the ball; so actually the only real "losers' in this sense, were the folks who play Fantasy Football and had Brees as their QB this week.
THE BIGGEST WINNERS
5. (TIE) TERRON ARMSTEAD AND ANDRUS PEAT, O-LINEMEN
The left side of the Saints offensive line had a phenomenal performance, thanks to the long-awaited return of 5th year veteran left tackle Terron Armstead; who made his 2017 debut after shoulder surgery and cleared the way for the Saints running game on his side.
Armstead’s return meant that 3rd year veteran Andrus Peat moved back to left guard as a result (after he had filled in some at left tackle during Armstead's absence), and he made his return at guard a memorable one as he CRUSHED the Detroit D-Line on Mark Ingram’s second TD run of the game.
Having Armstead and Peat back together again finally made a noticeable difference; and it bodes well for the overall success of the team's offense, moving forward.
4. THOMAS MORSTEAD, PUNTER
This probably can't be said often enough, but I'll say it once again: Saints 9th year punter Thomas Morstead is THE BEST punter in the entire NFL, hands down.
Morstead pinned the Lions down at their own 2-yard line in the 1st quarter, which in turn set up the Saints’ strip sack and fumble by Lions QB Matthew Stafford, which resulted in safety Kenny Vaccaro's touchdown recovery in the end zone and set the tone for the entire game.
Later in the 2nd half, he had a similar punt that Lions returner Jamal Agnew fumbled before recovering at this own 1-yard line, setting up another Saints defensive TD two plays later.
It was yet another brilliant performance, by one of the most overlooked players on the entire Saints team. Morstead should be getting a lot more recognition than he has been getting, and yesterday was yet anther reason why that is so.
3. CRAIG ROBERTSON, LINEBACKER
After he has moved into the starting "Will" linebacker role in place of the injured rookie Alex Anzalone, Robertson has made a HUGE impact since taking over, and yesterday he showed why he may be the most underrated player in the entire Saints Front 7.
Robertson made what has to be considered one of the most "highlight-reel" worthy defensive plays of the Saints season so far when he came in untouched and literally "stole" the ball from Stafford’s hand; while the battered and bruised Detroit QB was scanning the field for an open receiver.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 15, 2017
Robertson also hit double-digit tackles, with a total of 11 (4 solo, 7 assisted) of them, to go with a sack and that forced fumble that he took away from Stafford. It was one of the best performances by a Saints LB in recent memory, and gave the Saints defense a much-needed 'swagger' for most of the afternoon.
2. MARSHON LATTIMORE, CORNERBACK
I've said this before as well, but it too bears repeating: Saints rookie and top draft pick Marshon Lattimore might have been one of the best players taken in the entire 1st Round of this past April's 2017 NFL Draft, and he should be considered a SERIOUS contender for the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year award going forward.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 15, 2017
Yesterday, Lattimore was all over the place; which included his first ever "Pick 6" as a pro — as he picked off Stafford and ran it back 27 yards for the score and gave the Saints a commanding 45-10 lead at that point. He also had a another "impact play", when he tackled Lions RB Darren Fells at the Saints’ 1 on a 4th-down-and-goal play that stopped a Detroit drive at the very end of the 1st half.
Lattimore finished with 5 tackles and a PBU (pass break-up) as well, but he also showcased his run stopping abilities that included a key tackle on Lions RB Ameer Abdulah late in the 1st quarter,
For a rookie just 5 games into his professional career Lattimore shows a lot of poise and maturity often not seen from players in this stage of their development.
1. CAM JORDAN, DEFENSIVE END
Without question, the UNDISPUTED biggest "winner" for the Saints in yesterday's wild and crazy win over Detroit was 7th year veteran and All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan; who had a performance for the ages against the Lions.
Jordan's "Pick 6" in the end zone where he tipped Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's pass to himself before hauling in the football, was an absolute thing of beauty; as was his final stat line: 6 tackles (5 solo, 1 assisted), 2 sacks, and that one interception which essentially "iced" the game for New Orleans.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 15, 2017
Jordan spent a majority of the afternoon DESTROYING Lions offensive linemen, and is on pace thus far to be recognized as one of the sport of Pro Football's best players at any position.
If the Saints defense can continue to play as well as it has around him for these past 3 games, Jordan could be on his way to a career year — and some well-deserved (and long overdue) recognition from the rest of the national sports media covering the NFL......