And then there were four. That would be the number of unbeaten teams left in the National Football League after six weeks of action. One of those teams is the New Orleans Saints. The Saints thrashed the New York Giants 48-27 in the Big Easy in a battle of undefeated NFC powerhouses. Coming off their BYE week, the Saints looked sharp in all facets. Drew Brees was outstanding following consecutive weeks without a touchdown pass. He threw four on Sunday – to four different receivers. In total, seven different Saints scored. That’s offensive balance and diversity.
The Saints aren’t just a one-trick pony anymore though. Their defense is finally elevating their game after years of bringing down the team. The Saints limited Eli Manning to just 178 yards while holding the vaunted Giants rushing attack to a mere 85 yards on the afternoon. Impressive stuff. Head coach Sean Payton – who in my opinion is coaching much, much better this year (I am comfortable saying that because I have watched about 10 Saints games per season since he was hired) joined WWL in New Orleans to talk about the impressive victory.
On being able to get the Giants offense off the field and not allow them to play ball control with their running game:
“Well, the one thing we talked about on Thursday was when this game’s over, there’s going to be some team, one of these two teams is gonna convert 50 some percent on 3rd down; the other one’s going to be around 30 something percent. That ended up being a critical statistic, of course it allows you to stay on the field. Even if you look at the first drive offensively, we came up with a couple big conversions. And defensively, those stops are huge not only because it forces them to punt, but it also protects field position; and it all ties together. So I was real pleased with our 3rd down offense and defense and that’s going to be a big statistic as we get ready to play Miami as well.”
On the tremendous play of the offensive line against the formidable defensive line of the Giants:
“Well you’re right. That was a key statistic as we were looking at this game, you know, our ability to handle that front. New York’s got a really talented group, they’re well coached and they’re players that have had a lot of success when you start looking at Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, there’s a number of players you have to account for. And Jermon Bushrod stepped in, and I think the group in general did a great job of allowing Drew the necessary time to get the ball down field. It’s one thing in your game plan to say hey, we want to attack down the field. But the other aspect of that is protecting to allow the quarterback the time to throw it down the field and I thought we were outstanding in that area.”
On if they were hoping to exploit the banged up Giants secondary
“Well the thing that was tough about this game was we knew New York had had so much success not only defensively but offensively in the games they had before. And you study the tape and they played so well against Oakland, and before that Kansas City, Tampa Bay and on and on. So it’s hard to predict how you think that’s going to measure against your own team and as the game unfolded, we felt we were getting the ball down field well, we were protecting well, we just wanted to keep that rolling.”
On the Saints being able to score on their opening series in each of their first six games:
“I think someone asked me at the press conference today about playing with the lead – and when you go through a whole 16 week season, at some point you’re going to play from a deficit as well. But you always want to start fast. Our guys have done a good job handling the opening plays. You know, we spend a lot of time talking about the sequence and what we want to do. And every once in a while you get off the script because of a 3rd down maybe. But I think to credit our players, they’ve done a good job handling the start of games, and it certainly builds confidence in your defense as well.”