When you hold a team to 13 points and a shutout in the second half, you don’t expect to lose in the NFL, especially when you’re the 2018 New Orleans Saints. But this is exactly what happened on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas.
The Dallas defensive unit held the stellar Saints offense to just 176 total yards scoring only 10 points in the process on a rare off night for this usually powerhouse unit. The Saints just couldn’t get it going, relying on penalties for 1st downs combined with dropped catches and missed refereeing calls (I thought helmet to helmet contact was something you guys were hot on this season!?). Maybe the strain of 3 games in 11 days got to them, maybe the Cowboys were more up for it at home in a crucial game, looking to knock off the projected #1 seed in the NFC or maybe they were just better on the night. One side of the ball where the Saints did shine was the defense in role reversal night. I wanted to do a quick recap on some brilliant play by the ever improving Saints defense.
Only one place to start. David Onyemata recorded 3 sacks on Dak Prescott, two further QB hits and 2 tackles for loss giving him a career high game and 1 more sack than the whole of last season, Onyemata also recorded a forced fumble. It was great to see pressure on the opposing line and actually being able to get to the Quarterback. It was also nice to see the sacks being spread around the D, the Saints weren’t relying on one or two players but the whole unit stepped up. Good work David, it’s a shame we couldn’t cap off your career game with a W.
Speaking of great players on defense, you can help but mention Cam Jordan. Another 2 sacks on the night for Cam including a forced fumble too. The Saints are lucky to have a leader like Cam on their team, always looking to improve, never doubting in his and team’s ability and performing consistently. His Sack-Fumble set up the offense for a potential 2 minute drill which they subsequently messed up, he couldn’t do any more on the night. Great tribute to Will Smith too Cam, never change.
Marshon Lattimore also recorded a forced fumble which was recovered by the Saints, this one a bit luckier that Jordan’s but still important, using his knee to get the ball loose. Maybe that should be a new tactic, run with the knees up? Anyone else used to do that when warming up for various sporting practice? Just me? OK I will get back to the point then………Lattimore had a big workload recording 10 tackles on the night, he may have given up a few catches and a dubious, potentially harsh PI call to end the game but he is still a quality player.
Demario Davis was well, what we all expect him to be now, a beast, recording a whopping 11 tackles on the night. It’s his speed that gets me, so fast, direct and aggressive, what did we do before him!? Not as well on defense is the answer – not rocket science.
Eli Apple had his worst game in a Saints jersey on Thursday night getting called out for a few penalties, being lucky not to give up a massive touchdown towards the end after getting burned. Apple was being a bit too holdy throughout the piece. Remember he is still young and new to the team, high pressure road games being behind in the game for the first time all accounted for this. A good rest will help him.
Overall the whole unit did a good job, yes they did give up some silly penalties, hands to the face by Vonn Bell being one of those. The tendency to give up 1st downs on 3rd and long situation’s is also a concern going down the stretch, especially with the bigger passing teams of Tampa and Pittsburgh to come. Combine this with 2 games against Carolina with the read option of Cam Newton and it’s going to be one tough schedule. A few quarter back runs killed the Saints late last night with tackles being missed left, right and centre – I will put that one down to tiredness.
It doesn’t get any easier as we come into the business end of the season. A mini-bye is much deserved now, the streak couldn’t go on for ever and it was fun while it lasted. Rest up, get healthy and come back stronger for the final 4 games of the season get the best record possible – that’s all you can do. If you had offered me 10-2 after 12 games at the start of the season I would have bitten both your arms off and maybe a leg too.
If we can get the offense of weeks 9, 10 and 11 combined with the defense of last night (and some previous weeks) this team could be something special. It’s crucial now to get that additional bye, having #1 over #2 may be preferred but getting the bye is THE goal.
It’s a setback but not the end of the season, it’s barely even started. We go again in Tampa.
Until next time.
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