Brees, Saints Tame Lions

Posted: January 9, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

The two high powered offenses gave the NFL fans what they were looking for

Calvin Johnson and Drew Bress had record setting days but only one man’s team won the game

The Saints and Lions both had something to prove and New Orleans experience allowed them to prevail

Both the Saints and the Lions were extremely motivated coming into Saturday’s late game, one team was looking for redemption after being ousted by the Seahawks last season and the latter made it’s first postseason appearance in 12 years. Coming into the game we knew that each team had an explosive offense but in the end it was the Saints experience and leadership by all-pro QB Drew Brees that put them on top and the Saints have won 9 consecutive games while their last loss was an embarrassing one to the St. Louis Rams. Lions QB Matt Stafford played admirably but a couple of 4th quarter interceptions were too much for his team to overcome and they lost 28-45.

Stafford and the Lions struck first when TE Will Heller caught a 10 yard touchdown pass. Who the fuck is Will Heller you ask? Well he is the 3rd string TE who earned the start because Head Coach Jim Schwartz was punishing Brandon Pettigrew for being late to a team meeting. Heller had just 6 catches in the regular season and his first career touchdown catch was the only points scored in this 1st quarter. The Saints would answer quickly with a Darren Sproles 2 yard rushing touchdown but Stafford and the Lions answered quickly when WR Calvin Johnson pulled in a 13 yard touchdown. After a field goal by Saints K John Kasay the teams went in to the locker room with Detroit leading the ball game.

Somebody lit a fire under the Saints ass and they came from the bellows of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to outscore the Lions 35-10 in the second half. “Going into a halftime deficit, we just realized, ‘listen, just bear down, one play at a time, one drive at a time,’ and I think we scored on every drive in the second half.” Drew Brees admitted “I guess that’s what you hope for.” Yea if you want to win a playoff game I guess scoring on every drive in the second half is a good thing.
Brees threw 3 touchdown passes, a 41 yarder to Devery Henderson, a 3 yarder to Jimmy Graham and a 56 Yarder to Robert Meachem. Brees would finish the game 33-43 for 466 yards and the 3 touchdown passes. He had 5 receivers with at least 2 catches and 50 yards and 2 players with 4 or more catches for 110+ yards. He completed passes to 8 different receivers and his 466 yards were the 2nd most in NFL history, he threw for just 23 less yards than Bernie Kosar did when his Cleveland Browns beat the New York Jets in 1987.

“We just focus on winning. We’re not focused on yards and record,” New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton said. “I’m serious when I say that”. Drew Brees agrees admitting that “we were pulling out all the stops, we play aggressive. We’re not going to apologize for that. That gives guys in the huddle a lot of the confidence. We’re not going to pull the reins back. It’s pedal to the medal.” Payton continued to say “seriously, the task at hand is to find a way to score one more point, and we made some plays in the second half.”

We know that Brees and the NFL’s number 1 passing offense was going to show up but many people forget about the Saints rushing attack which ranked 6th in the league. They were not forgotten and gave New Orleans a great balance and helped their team break the record for most total yards in the postseason. The record was nearly 50 years old and with the Saints additional 167 yards on top of Brees record day New Orleans had more than 625 total yards. With Mark Ingram out the Saints relied on a three headed monster in the running game relying on Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory. Thomas had 8 carries for 66 yards a touchdown and the games longest run of 31 yards. Chris Ivory had the most carries and was New Orleans short yardage specialist gaining 47 yards on 13 carries. Darren Sproles is the newcomer to the Saints offense replacing Reggie Bush and New Orleans got incredible production this season that Bush never came close to posting. Sproles regular season success continued into the playoffs and he scored 2 touchdowns on 10 rushes and racked up 51 yards but he also pulled in 4 passes for 34 yards.

The Lions last playoff win came in 1991 and their last road playoff game since 1957 and we knew that this playoff game between 2 5000+ yard passers was going to be an exciting one. Stafford played well finishing the game 28-43 for 380 yards and 3 touchdowns. He and Brees set a NFL playoff record passing for 839 net yards and the league and it’s fans wouldn’t have expected any less. Stafford’s big day was fueled by one of the greatest single game playoff performances by a WR. Calvin “Megatron” Johnson was targeted a game high 15 times and caught a WR playoff record 12 catches for 211 yards and 2 touchdowns. As I said earlier Pettigrew was benched for being tardy to a team meeting but he still had 4 grabs for 49 yards while WR’s Nate Burleson and Titus Young combined for 8 catches and 88 yards.

It’s too bad for Detroit that Stafford isn’t able to rely on a running game like Brees is but the Lions did lose two of their starting RB’s throughout the season. Rookie RB Mikel LeShoure tore his ACL in training camp and Jahvid Best may have shortened his career after sustaining two terrible concussions. Detroit has relied on Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris during the regular season but the running game was all but forgotten in this game against New Orleans. Smith was the teams leading rusher carrying the ball 6 times for 21 yards and the only rushing touchdown was a 1 yard plunge by Stafford. As a team they ran the ball just 10 times for 32 yards, just a single yard more than Pierre Thomas’ long for the game.

Defense was an afterthought in this game but one team’s squad actually showed up while the other seemed to have just rolled over. The Lions had just 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and 6 passes deflected but were able to recover fumbles by Drew Brees and Marques Colston. It was the Lions defense on 3rd and 4th down that really lost them this game as the Sainst converted 7 of 11 3rd downs and went for it on 4th down whenever they didn’t convert on 3rd and gained 1st downs in 3 of those 4 attempts. That means that the Saints never punted the ball and only turned it over on downs once and had the two fumbles. Besides absolutely shutting down the Lions running game the Saints also deflected 7 passes and hit Stafford 5 times but it was CB Jabari Greer’s 2 4th quarter interceptions that ensured the Saints victory.

Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz told reporters “it’s a learning experience for the whole team. We’ll get better. We’ll be back, obviously it hurts right now.” Megatron wanted the Lions fans to know “we did make the playoffs this year and that’s a great accomplishment, we have some things to work on and we will. We know what we have to do to make the next step.” Meanwhile the Saints next step is traveling to Candlestick Park to battle the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs.


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