First of all, Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints on a well deserved victory. They proved all the pundits wrong , myself included, and there was no doubt about their superiority . It was a strange game , much different than expected , and I’m not talking just about the result. I , and most others, had thought it would be a high scoring affair decided in the final seconds , or even in OT. It wasn’t. The final score 31-17 might not reflect it but it was a tight defensive battle most of the way. The ‘texture’ of the game was also a big surprise. Consider this :
1. It was thought that usually slow starting Colts would come from behind to nip the Saints . Instead , it was the Colts who jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the Saints clawed back to win it.
2.Peyton Manning was expected to be the difference in the game. He was , but not in the way it was thought , giving up the final TD on an interception return. It was Brees who won the battle of the QB’s, statistically and in every other way as Manning was kept in check by the Saints defense.
3. Who would have thought that the Saint defense could do what the Jets and the Ravens had been unable to do ?
4. Who would have thought that Garret Hartley would win the battle of the kickers as Matt Stover missed a key FG attempt and Hartley converted on his three chances ,all from long range ?
Many people will point to the onside kick that the Saints executed perfectly as the turning point in the game . It enabled the Saints to keep Manning off the field and score the go-ahead TD. It may very well have been but , even earlier , I had the feeling that the tide was turning. The Colts were leading 10-3 at one point but the manner in which Brees was moving the Saints up and down the field gave me a bad feeling for the Colts chances.
When the Saints were losing games towards the end of the season and struggling to beat teams like the Redskins, I wondered if they had hit a wall. Today they were perfect in all departments as they played up to the high standards they set in the early part of the season. Brees was sensational, the WRs caught almost everything thrown their way, the defense was persevering and the coach deserves high marks for his daring playcalling , particularly the onside kick. Way to go , Saints . Congratulations once again.