This is for all the doubters out there: DO NOT COUNT US OUT! The Saints proved yet again that they are more than just Drew Brees. They defeated the Cowboys 12-10 in a defensive duel on Sunday Night Football. The crowd was loud and the team has now won two games without their fearless leader. Given the lack of scoring in this game, there were plenty of big factors. Let us look into what made this game the highest viewed in history.
Help A Brother Out
Teddy Bridgewater, once again, did enough to help the Saints get the win. However, he did not get help from his teammates throughout the game. Ted Ginn Jr. had a third down pass hit him in the hands and bounce away from him that was intercepted. Josh Hill had a possible touchdown catch that was also dropped. You cannot have these kind of plays happen in key moments of a big game. The result should have been much bigger than the final score would show.
One-Sided Flag Fest
Here we go again with these referees. The Saints were called numerous times for holding. Ryan Ramczyk was the only one who did not get flagged throughout the game. More importantly, the Cowboys were only flagged once for holding. It was obvious they had multiple holds that were not called and it is ridiculous. To make matters worst, Vonn Bell was called for unnecessary roughness on Dak Prescott when he slid late. Fast forward to the fourth quarter, and Jaylon Smith does the same to Bridgewater but they picked up the flag. It is very frustrating when calls go one way but not the other. The only things we ask for is consistency and a fair game. Is that too much to ask for?
Saved By The Bell
The Saints defense was stout the entire game. The Cowboys defense was solid as well, sacking Bridgewater five times and constantly getting pressure. The most outstanding player of the game was Vonn Bell. He has been a dynamic player the last two weeks. He was able to recover a Jason Witten fumble forced by A.J. Klein and forced one from Zeke Elliott on a crucial fourth down stop. This is the type of play the Saints have hoped for when they drafted him. Bell knows that he is in a contract year and by all means he has earned it. The timing of when that will happen remains to be seen, but let us hope it is sooner rather than later.
Return of the Shimmy & Lockdown City
Sheldon Rankins was finally able to make his season debut. He not only made an immediate impact but also played longer than expected. He finished the game playing 38 snaps with two tackles and a QB hit. That is not bad at all after an Achilles injury. Also, Marshon Lattimore came back to life in this game against Amari Cooper. He was able to hold him under 50 yards and forced two offensive pass interference calls. This is the type of play we want consistently.
Heavy Duty Pressure Wash
The Saints pass rush has been tremendous through the first four weeks. The last two games may not show up in the sack category, but making the quarterback scramble is a win. To make it even better, they shut down Elliott all game long forcing Prescott to beat them. Now that Rankins is back in the mix, this unit just got even scarier for opposing offenses. Cam Jordan is always leading the way but Marcus Davenport has made a huge leap forward. He went up against Tyron Smith, one of the best in the league, and had an impact all night long. Malcom Brown and David Onyemata have also been steadily improving with the latter coming up big with a sack late in the game.
The biggest stat of this game was not even on the field. Only 14 percent of analyst picked the Saints to win this game. Similar to last week in Seattle, the odds were stacked against them and proved everybody wrong. Next week they will facing Tampa Bay who has been up and down all season. They are the one team in the division every year you just never know how the game will play out. Essentially, it will depend on which Jameis Winston shows up on game day. We will go more in depth on that rivalry later this week.