Wow it feels good to write those words. Yesterday's 38-31 victory over the New Orleans Saints was a high-scoring, entertaining affair. Big Ben and the offense came out firing, scoring on the first two possessions of the game and not really slowing down the rest of the game. The defense? That's another story. Our secondary was once again abused, this time by Drew Brees and Marques Colston. Brees finished the game with 398 yards passing--that's a field day. Still, at the end of the day, we were the better team: we took care of the football better and we ran the ball more effectively.
Here are some of my thoughts from the game:
*Finally, our offense clicked on all cylinders. Our efficient and productive passing game in the first half opened up opportunities for the running game in the 2nd half.
*Willie Parker is quietly having quite a season . Rather unassumingly, Parker now has the 4th best rushing totals in the NFL this season. Parker obviously broke those two long runs, but he also mixed in some tough yards in the second half that helped control the clock and the momentum of the game. We had to keep Brees & Co. off the field, and Parker's strong running did just that.
*Random note: Charlie Batch is a great teamate. He has been so wonderfully supportive of Big Ben through this season's struggles. Did anyone notice him on the sidelines cheering Ben on and offering his input?
*Drew Brees is good. Real good. He absolutely shredded us yesterday, even with Joe Horn out with an injury. Brees and Colston are quickly becoming one of the top QB-WR tandems in all of football.
*Did we really go an entire game without turning the ball over? Yes we did! For the first time this season, we did a superior job holding on to the football. The fumble we forced and recovered in the 1st quarter led to another touchdown and a 14 point lead. I knew better than to think the game was over at that point, but it was certainly a nice cushion to work with early on.
*Had we lost, I would have looked back to Larry Foote's dropped interception in the 1st quarter as a critical turning point. Foote dropped a Brees pass attempt that essentially hit him in the numbers. The Saints were in their own territory, and had Foote caught the ball, he would have most likely taken it to the house for a 21-0 lead.
*If we're going to go on a prolonged winning streak, we're going to have to keep on putting up points. Injured this week were Troy Polamalu and Deshea Townsend, both lost to concussions. Who knows how quickly they'll be able to return, but we'll more than likely have to play without one or both of them against Cleveland next week.
*Rookie Anthony Smith saw some action as a result of the injuries. Smith made a critical play against Marques Colston over the middle during the Saints' final drive of the game. I know many of us were impressed with his play during the preseason; now he's got a chance to make an impact in games that count. Here's hoping he's ready to contribute if Polamalu needs a few weeks to return to full strength.
*We had tremendous balance to our offensive attack yesterday. 28 passes, 26 runs. That's good stuff.
More thoughts and analysis from yesterday's game to come. For now, let's enjoy this one before getting ready for a big divisional game next week at Cleveland.