Saints Nation: Saints Win 31-17 as Lions Self Destruct

The Falcons and Cowboys losses today set the tables perfectly for the Saints to take firm control of both the NFC South and the #3 seed in the NFC, and the Saints did their part to nail in that separation with a 31-17 victory over the Lions. Overall the Saints played well at times, but it was not as a strong of a performance as we saw last Monday night against the Giants. Chalk it up perhaps to a short week and a fast start that preceeded the inevitable mid game lull, but I felt the Saints weren’t sharp for 60 minutes in this one. Lucky for them, the Lions did a fantastic job of beating themselves. The Saints did come up with the goods when they had to, but they didn’t get a very focused challenge from Detroit. The Lions were penalized 11 times for 107 yards, and that doesn’t count a 15 yard facemask penalty that was negated by offsetting fouls. Most of those fouls were completely avoidable and showed a lack of focus, discipline and intelligence. I was asked before the game if I thought Ndamukong Suh was a dirty player, and I’m starting to realize it’s not so much him as it is the entire team. They’re dirty and they are completely undisciplined, and the only person to blame for that is their coach who’s created an atmosphere where that type of behavior is tolerated. The Lions started the season 5-0 and created a nice little buzz around themselves, but with a little adversity despite the fact that they are right in the middle of a wild card playoff push the wheels have completely and totally fallen off. It wasn’t just once the result was a foregone conclusion, either. The Lions spent the vast majority of that game continually shooting themselves in the shoot. That’s what happens when you do a poor job of assembling men of character on your roster, and you see why we’re fortunate as Saints fans to root for a team that doesn’t have those problems. The Lions clearly lack the experience and leadership of a winning veteran presence and there’s no one respected enough to stop that sinking ship. Too bad, because that team has a lot of talent. Below are my bullets on the game.

  • Nate Burleson was flagged three separate times for offensive pass interference for pushing off. You would’ve thought he’d get it after getting flagged once or twice. In my entire life of watching football I’ve never seen an offensive player get flagged 3 times for the same penalty in a game, especially something rare like offensive pass intereference. That goes back to the poor discipline, but it’s also just weird.
  • Matt Stafford torched the Saints’ DB’s many times in this one and he ended with more passing yards (408) than Brees (342). The difference was the penalties that killed their drives and the lack of a running game.
  • Give the Saints credit, they did a good job of slowing down the Lions’ rushing attack and they mostly took Calvin Johnson out of the game. Johnson had 6 catches for 69 yards and 0 touchdowns which was one of his worst games of the year, believe it or not. It was a good gameplan, I thought, of taking Johnson and the running game away and allowing the Lions to exploit single coverage everywhere else on the field. That said, Stafford took full advantage and he was accurate despite his injury to the index finger on his throwing hand still healing.
  • You’d think the Saints played good defense only giving up 17 points, but they were gashed many times. The three scoring drives by the Lions went for 80 yards, 80 yards and 88 yards. They controlled time of possession and they moved the chains with ease when they weren’t busy mentally imploding.
  • Speaking of stupid penalties few had to be more stupid than the Cameron Jordan late hit on Stafford after a Junior Galette sack that negated a 4th and 41 late in the game and gave the Lions a first down. Wow. Roman Harper also had his generic late hit out of bounds.
  • Jermon Bushrod had a tough ask blocking Kyle Van den Bosch and he passed with flying colors. Outstanding day for the Saints’ left tackle.
  • I know he’s on a pitch count but Pierre Thomas had 4 touches in this game. Coach Payton, seriously man?
  • Devery Henderson went back to the no plays coming your way zone, and Meachem was the one getting involved. 3 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown was awesome, but his two biggest plays might have been poor passes by Brees that could have been interceptions where Meachem turned into a defender and did a good job of breaking up those passes.
  • Vilma came back and led the team with 10 tackles. He was great against the run and pretty good in pass coverage. He was moving great early and less well as the game wore on. I’m sure his knee took a shot and some point and slowed him down. Too bad he dropped that interception.
  • The Saints did have a pick, courtesy of Tracy Porter late, but once again they dropped numerous interceptions. Tracy Porter, Malcolm Jenkins, Vilma, and others took turns dropping chances to stop the Lions’ ball control pass offense. Our defensive players have bricks for hands.
  • Aubrayo Franklin and Sedrick Ellis did a great job controlling the middle.
  • Shaun Rogers ROCKED Matt Stafford and Malcolm Jenkins put a few nice hits on people as well.
  • That long pass before halftime was unforgivable, and a bad miscommunication between Patrick Robinson and Malcolm Jenkins. Robinson didn’t run with his receiver and Jenkins offered no help over the top. They have to do better than that.
  • Robinson came back and blocked a field goal diving off the edge to make up for it. One of the more athletic plays we’ve seen.
  • When the game got a little tense, the Saints turned to Jimmy Graham and he completely took over. Great job by an elite playmaker stepping up when he was needed most.
  • As much as I love Jimmy Graham, does this guy ever break a tackle?
  • Jo-Lonn Dunbar followed up a great showing on Monday with a terrible one tonight.
  • Will Herring was excellent on special teams and in coverage when he was in. I’m starting to like that guy. 
  • Darren Sproles needs to stop taking kickoffs out that are 8 yards deep.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed another glorious Saints victory. Make no mistake, the teams the Saints have beaten the last two weeks in the Giants and Lions are both very good. Those are playoff contenders and the Saints have made a major statement that they are ready for the postseason. Stay tuned for the grades!

Andrew Juge

About Andrew Juge

I like the Saints. A lot.