For the last time this season, below are the offensive player grades for the game. I hope some of you enjoyed the write ups this year. It's very time consuming and admittedly not always as perfectly accurate as it should/could be, but it's been fun. The Saints' offense ran the ball well and showed signs of life late in this game, but the bottom line is 15 points won't get it done on the road. This offense failed to make an impact on the road consistently this season and that is what ended up costing the team this season more than anything else.
Drew Brees: C- for the game (1.84 for the playoffs) I was floored to see he passed for over 300 yards in this game. How the $%#@ did that happen? He had less than 50 at halftime! Brees finished 24 of 43 for 309 yards, 1 touchdown and no turnovers. He fumbled once on a sack but the Saints recovered. He seemed to manage the horrific conditions for passing much worse than Russell Wilson in the first half, and much better in the second half… which was strange. I have to wonder if the gloves were an issue, though. He was so wildly inaccurate many times that I wonder if the grip was an issue. Wilson seemed to throw better with just one glove on his none throwing hand. The bottom line is passing was never really going to be feasible with the consistent rain and wind. He was fortunate to have a couple easy interceptions go right through the hands of Seahawks defenders. He got hot in the 4th but it was too little too late. Too bad the Saints never had a home playoff game this year.
Mark Ingram: C- (3.00) He ran the ball well and picked up right where he left off in the Eagles game from a running standpoint. He had 10 carries for 49 yards. We'll remember Ingram in this game for two back breaking mistakes, though. With the Saints down 6-0, he fumbled deep in Saints territory which would set up a Seattle touchdown and effectively kill the team's chances. He also dropped a screen pass on a 3rd down play on the opening drive that forced the Saints to punt, and he had tons of daylight in front of him. Those two mistakes just can't happen in the playoffs, and it overshadows an otherwise solid performance.
Khiry Robinson: B+ (3.33) He had 13 carries for 57 yards, a touchdown, and a catch for 13 yards. Like Ingram he consistently ran the ball with authority and was slippery through tackles. For the second straight week he proved to be a valuable weapon in the Saints' offense. Based on his performance in the playoffs he clearly deserves more playing time next season. Bill Parcells apparently compared him to Curtis Martin and chastised Sean Payton the week leading up to the game for not using him more. He was fortunate on an apparent fumble to be ruled down by contact. The replay showed he may have been touched, then slipped, then got back up and fumbled… but it was close. Ball security remains the one item that he'll need to really work on going into next season. I really think that's the one thing holding him back from being a starter quality player. He ends the playoffs as the highest graded offensive player through two games besides Grubbs.
Darren Sproles: C (2.67) Because of the conditions he was neutralized, but in general it's been a disappointing second half of the season for him. He never seemed the same after the ankle injury. He had 3 carries for just 2 yards, 5 catches for 32 yards and no impact in the return game.
Travaris Cadet: D- (0.67) He just had the one play, but it was a perfectly designed misdirection screen where he dropped the ball. If he catches it, he might still be running. Another back breaking miscue for the offense. It will be interesting to see if he finds a place on the roster next season after a disappointing year. On the final play he may have also over run a designed lateral meant for him.
Jed Collins: C+ (2.50) He opened up some huge lanes for both Ingram and Robinson in between the 30s with nice lead blocks. When the Saints ran the ball in short yardage situations, or closer to Seattle's end of the field, there were some misses that cost the running game. An up and down day overall, but he played a part in the 108 yards rushing at 4.2 per carry we saw. I never expected the Saints to do that well on the ground in Seattle.
Marques Colston: B+ (2.67) Tough to grade Colston after how the game ends. The odds of the Saints winning even if he gets out of bounds with 6 seconds left are not good, but you would have liked for the Saints to at least give themselves a chance and see the game through. Instead, in what was very likely a designed play, Colston stopped short of going out of bounds and tried to throw across the field. The throw was awful, and clearly a forward pass that was terribly executed. Too bad, because before that he recovers the onside kick and came up with an insane 11 catch for 144 yards and a touchdown stat line. He gave the Saints a prayer down the stretch by single handedly dominating the Seahawks' secondary, and he even scored on Richard Sherman himself. Given the conditions, his stat line plus the recovery deserve an A+, but the last play hurts his grade significantly.
Kenny Stills: D (1.67) He didn't get open all game and Brees didn't trust him. He did catch a long pass that was a huge play in the 4th quarter but unfortunately it was called back for a clear hold by Strief. He never had another play. Still a decent first season for the rookie, though, and we'll hope to see much progress next year.
Lance Moore: C- (2.34) He had 2 catches for 20 yards on 5 targets. Not exactly good. He was wide open on one 4th down throw and Brees missed him by a mile.
Robert Meachem: B (3.00) He's the big surprise of the playoffs and he came up with a big play in both games. He finished with 2 catches for 69 yards. He continues to also be a decent asset run blocking. It will be really interesting to see if the Saints bring him back next season. I lean towards no, but I know Sean Payton and him have a great relationship. His 52 yard reception was a miracle, reminiscent of the Auburn-Georgia game winner where two defenders go up for the interception, both miss it, and the tip drill ends up right in his hands. Too bad he wasn't able to take that for a score, though.
Jimmy Graham: F (1.17) Harsh, but deserved. He had a garbage time reception for 8 yards. That's it. The most involvement he had all game was fighting with Seahawks' defenders during warm ups. The bottom line is he's an All-Pro and he's a guy that needs to make a contribution in huge games like these. Instead, he was a ghost. He shied away from make an impact, it seemed. Credit Seattle for taking him out of the game, but while Michael Bennett's post game comments on him are out of line, there is definitely some truth to them. As good as Jimmy Graham is, he can be taken out of games mentally. He just didn't show up, and once again he seems to scare easily when a little adversity comes his way. Disappointing beyond words.
Benjamin Watson: D+ (1.83) He had 1 reception for no yards and his run blocking wasn't a factor. He did sign a 2 year deal so he should be back next year, but I have to admit his play this season wasn't the wrinkle and impact in the offense I was hoping it would be.
Joshua Hill: C (1.84) Pretty standard Josh Hill game. He has a penalty and a dropped screen pass (on a high ball by Brees, admittedly) and gets way too much action for a guy that consistently screws up. He did have a 23 yard reception, though, making an absolutely sick catch on a high ball downfield. His run blocking was very good overall, but once again, too much inconsistency from him.
Terron Armstead: A- (3.17) He gave up some edge pressure, but my God, what a game from Armstead. Brees did a good job for the most part using his footwork to avoid the rush and he seemed to trust Armstead more this week. We were able to enjoy the quick feet as promised, but his physical run blocking came as an even bigger pleasant surprise. A pretty awesome all around game from the Saints' new left tackle. At this point I'm sold he's the starter in 2014. If there's one thing we can take away from this rough last month or so, it's that we may have secured out left tackle of the future out of it.
Ben Grubbs: B- (3.34) I thought he played well overall, the one negative being a really bad missed block on a screen that blew a play up.
Brian de la Puente: B+ (3.17) One of the better players on the line in this game, his impact in the trenches in the running game was felt. He really opened some nice holes up the middle. He really put together two nice games in the playoffs, and that may earn him a nice contract on the open market this offseason. I don't know if the Saints can afford both him and Strief, so they'll probably have to pick one.
Jahri Evans: C- (2.84) He gave up the lone sack that got Brees crushed, but give him credit for at least chasing down the fumble (not that it mattered). He really struggled in protection, which is a big surprise, and didn't allow Brees to enjoy the clean pocket he is used to.
Zach Strief: C- (2.84) Not a great day for Strief. He didn't make a great impact in either the run game or the pass game. At times he held up ok, but his worst play by far was a blatant hold that negated a long pass to Kenny Stills. Without the hold, though, Brees was definitely getting hit. A disappointing end to an otherwise good season, though, and as a captain he'll be testing free agency. If I had to pick I think he's the one you retain over BDLP. Not only is he a quality right tackle with nice size that usually excels in pass protection, he's one of the highest character guys in the locker room. Never underestimate the value of a good player that is also a good influence and role model. His necessity is understated because we only watch what he does on the field, but I promise you his contribution off the field is as high as almost any player on the roster.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Terron Armstead