Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints sent the Tennessee Titans packing after a sound beating which seemed stronger than the 24-31 final score would indicate.
The first half of the game was brought to you by the word “Penalties,” and the number “15.” If Sean Payton was mad about the ten penalties the Saints earned against the Rams last week, he must have been absolutely livid during tonight’s game. There were 22 penalties recorded against the Saints throughout the game. Fifteen of those were in the first half. Granted, two of those were for unsportsmanlike conduct Jimmy Graham giving the proverbial finger to the Atlanta Falcons, but there were six more penalties by the Saints which were declined by the Titans.
There were some quality moments in the first half. Kenny Vaccaro was better than ever. Jimmy Graham announced his return with a fury. And INGRAMANIA got another feather under its cap. But there were so many penalties making the game drag on, that at one point it seemed like the players were there simply to support the flag-throwing competition. The numerous penalties slowed the game so much that the validity of the Seahawks’ defensive tactics was underscored. No matter how much they deserve penalties, it’s safe to assume that Goodell won’t compromise the economic draw “integrity” of the game by letting refs slow it down with so many penalties.
The theme of the second half was “SAINTS DEFENSE.” If we were worried about Rob Ryan’s squad in the first half, the second half showed us just how impressive our team’s depth is this year. Hits were hard. Sacks were awesome to watch. And oh, so many turnovers!!! Whether we were intercepting the ball or recovering fumbles… even after the flat ending to the fourth quarter, it was difficult to come away from that game without renewed hope that our defense would finally add the ingredient it’s been missing most in recent years: turnovers.
Luke McCown’s performance, which included a number of passes with no chance of completion, did not inspire much confidence in the journeyman’s ability to fill in, were the unthinkable to happen to Drew Brees, who did not dress out for tonight’s game.
Ryan Griffin, on the other hand, generally showed the kind of poise and accuracy for which you might hope from a developing young backup. He made some very accurate throws under pressure, and led the team well from the moment he stepped in for McCown before the end of the first half. With some help from Joe Morgan and Mark Ingram, Griffin’s quick touchdown drive in the last two minutes of the first half turned a lot of frowns upside down, for both fans and Saints players.
Jimmy Graham was McCown’s saving grace, and decided to dunk over the goalpost after both of his touchdowns. Jimmy dunked. Fans cheered. Flags flew. Fans Booed. Ref’s laughed. Jimmy scowled.
Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, and Travaris Cadet all did well overall. Ingram showed a lot of drive, and even caught a couple of screens; though he also managed to drop the easy pass and remind us that he’s no PT23. Khiry kept pushing on every run, whether he was making progress or not, and it usually took at least three defenders to finally bring him down. Cadet’s ability to make a splash in the return game was neutered by having the football repeatedly sail out of the endzone, but he made some plays once he was rotated in on offense.
Pierre Thomas was reliable as ever with screens and runs, blocked well, and served as a quality release valve for a McCown under pressure.
Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette were both able to put good pressure on the opponent’s QB, and managed a couple of nice sacks.
Joseph Morgan made a few appearances, and did a good job stretching the field. When he and Griffin took the field for the first time, at the end of the first half, Morgan’s impressive deep reception set up Ingram for a quick TD.
Robert Meachem did his job well, when asked and able to make something out of the play. He did have one drop which should have been a touchdown, despite the defender pulling on his arm the entire time. But McCown did him no favors.
Kenny Vaccaro didn’t look like a second-year player out there. He repeatedly impressed with his polish, his hits, a beautiful sack, and his ability to separate the football from whomever was holding it at the time.
Rafael Bush seemed to be around the ball often, laid some good hits, and was involved in recovering a couple of fumbles… one of which was questionably taken away upon review.
Vinnie Sunseri did very well in the second half, laying some good hits and helping put some turnovers on the board. He won’t be on the practice squad in September.
Logan Kilgore… took a knee with 9 seconds left, to end the game.
Keenan Lewis was seen limping off of the field.
Khairi Fortt was removed to the bench due to injury, and did not make it back into the game.