A Touchdown from all units of the New Orleans Saints team for the first time since 1998 helped the Black and Gold win in Seattle for the first time since 2007 with a 33-27 score line. Just like everyone predicted, the Saints marched into Seattle and proved too much for the home team. With Teddy Bridgewater in for the injured Drew Brees at Quarterback, it wasn’t pretty by anyone’s standards but boy was it gritty, determined and a passionate fight from the NOLA boys.
Special teams and Defense set the tone with scores of their own while the offense faltered until the later half of the 2nd quarter when Alvin Kamara showed why he is an elite running back and didn’t look back. In a game where the stats and score don’t tell the full story, let’s have a look into his performance and the performance of other key players on all sides of the ball.
One of the loudest stadiums in the NFL (and it was LOUD) was expecting the Seahawks to win comfortably with a 2nd choice QB under centre, a nervous Teddy Bridgewater started slowly to say the least, not aided by some sloppy offensive penalties, the Saints punted on their first 3 drives.
Having not started a meaningful game since 2015, TB5 took his place as the starter throwing 19/27 for 177 yards and 2 Touchdowns. He looked to use the Saints big time weapons on offense as much as possible, handing off to Kamara, throwing to Thomas and using screens, dump offs and pitches to AK41 as well which played perfectly to the Saints strengths. Clearly looking to use the ball quicker from the hand, Teddy did okay, in really tough weather conditions and an atmosphere a seasoned pro would struggle in I was content with his showing. More time with the team, back training in their own facility with the home crowd behind him, he will only get better.
The standout guy was clearly Alvin Kamara. He was unplayable, he does things no one expects, his cuts, strength, balance, bounce-offs and agility are outstanding. When he looks to be done, he gets 5 more yards, when he beats a man, he beat him to the extreme, basically, the Seahawks couldn’t tackle him. 161 yards from scrimmage on the day (69 on the ground, 92 through the air) and a pair of Touchdowns. The Saints had 265 total offense yards, Kamara had 60% of them, the rest of the team only got 104 between them. The RB was making plays at key times, converting on 3rd downs and getting the Saints out of holes it was exactly the performance the team needed and delivered play after play.
Let’s remember, this guy was a 3rd Round draft pick. 3RD ROUND! I am honestly am running out of ways to describe his quality. He was so slippery. There was a play where he slipped, got up and still made a positive play. On another occasion he was surrounded play Seahawks, somehow broke out and got through again for a big gain. For his receiving touchdown he caught a short pass, span a man, tiptoed down the side-line with great awareness and got it in. HE IS UNREAL.
Michael Thomas had a nice day too. 54 yards off 5 receptions and a touchdown his height and strength was used well. The touchdown a 1 yard reception on 4th down which swung the game massively in the Saints favour. He went up for catches, forced further yards after catches, one with a great spin move and was a solid option for Bridgewater, these two will flourish with time.
The Offensive Line started very sloppily. I get it, it was loud, with a new QB calling your plays but these penalties need to stop if the Saints are going to be competitive throughout the season. A few false starts and holds stalled drives to begin with, but it wasn’t all bad. They allowed 0 sacks on the afternoon which is their first no sack game of the season. Just like he did against J.J. Watt, Ryan Ramczyk kept Jadaveon Clowney very quiet. Clowney only got one assisted tackle and had no QB hurries.
This was one of those performances where the stats don’t show how well the Saints Defense played in this match. To give up 515 yards is very disappointing however, if you take away 54 for the DK Metcalf halftime catch plus the 82 yard drive for TD on 0:00 touchdown, 379 looks a bit nicer.
Let’s start with the turnovers. Eli Apple made a great play on the ball for a forced fumble, punching it out of Chris Carson’s hands before he hit the deck. A clever play by the Cornerback and when the Saints needed it with the offense stalling. Vonn Bell recovered and return it to the endzone for a TD. No whistles this week!
Speaking of Bell, he could have also had an interception but arms got locked with the Seahawks receiver and didn’t come up with the ball. Although he got beaten once or twice in coverage it was a solid game for the safety and I’ve been impressed with him all season.
Staying with the secondary, Marshon Lattimore had a career high 12 tackles, he seemed to be everywhere in this one. He got beaten by a good pass and catch early on but recovered well and was very strong in the tackle, although he couldn’t prevent Russell Wilson running in a TD I don’t think many corners could in that situation.
There is still a worrying trend of giving up chunk plays of 30+ yards for this unit. Dropping various line backers into coverage hasn’t helped that either. At no point should AJ Klein be covering Lockett and that happened more than once, including on a TD reception.
The stat of 0 sacks on the night really doesn’t do the saints pass rush and defensive line justice in this match-up. On another day they would have had about 5. Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport both came within inches of getting to Wilson but he slipped away before the tackle could be made. However, the pressure they produced was excellent collapsing the pocket again and again forcing Wilson to use his feet and scramble for cover. If they continue with these levels of pressure every week, sacks will be stacking up. Nevertheless the QB has to be stopped from rushing for new sets of downs, Wilson really hurt the Saints on the ground with 51 yards from 7 attempts.
The rest of the ground game was pretty damn good. Chris Carson only averaged 3.5 yards a carry and that forced fumble. He was well and truly stuffed up at times by the line backer group, with them and the D-line as a whole creating 3 turnovers on downs which was huge for the match and the group. Demario Davis gets better every week. Leading the pre-game huddle you could tell he was fired up, he somehow flies around the place like superman, 9 more tackles for DD in the game but his work rate, speed and hunger for stopping every inch is what makes him stand out most.
We all knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when and Deonte Harris scored his first special teams return TD for the Saints. Setting the tone early he received the punt around midfield, made 2 miss with a step then flew past the rest of the Seahawks (Harris more of bird than those Seahawks on that play) for 7, great play by him and great start for the Saints. Yeah he did muff a punt later in the game but I think we can forgive him that one. More big things to come from this guy.
Name me a better punter in the league right now than Thomas Morstead. There ain’t one. The legatron is on fire. People often underestimate the importance of this position but he showed why it’s crucial, especially on the road. Pinning the Seahawks back multiple times deep in their own territory, including at the 2 and 4. Six punts, 324 yards, 4 out of 6 in the 20. Morstead came, punted, balled.
It wasn’t all plain sailing but it certainly was improved and unexpected. This is week 1 of Teddy time and honestly it looked alright. The defence stepped up, special teams stepped up and then the offense joined the party. Big time players made big time plays. It will only get better with time and practise too.
The Saints did have the rub of the green this week (for a change) and soft penalties on both teams helped to extend drives. One key one was a missed FG by Wil Lutz, luckily for him an illegal formation was called giving the Saints a 1st down, a TD followed and the lead was extended.
Momentum was really with the Saints this week, lets hope they can carry it home next time against Dallas.
The Black and Gold are back to winning ways! Until next time…