Although the New Orleans Saints won’t get in the playoffs this year, their victory today guaranteed that this season will not carry two possible embarrassments: giving an 0 and 14 team their first win or having a losing season. For most of the game, it was pretty clear that the number one offense was too much for the last-in-the-league ranked defense, with the Saints scoring two touchdowns in each of the first three quarters.
Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 351 yards, completing 30 of 40 attempts, making two touchdowns and no interceptions. Brees now has 4,683 yards this season, leaving him 402 yards short of breaking Dan Marino’s single-season passing record. Lions QB Dan Orlovsky struggled making 10 out of 23 attempts, no touchdowns, and two interceptions before being benched at the end of the third quarter. He was replaced by QB Drew Stanton who made one out of three attempts for 12 yards.
New Orleans scored twice on the ground in the first quarter, the first time on a 20-yard run by WR Robert Meachem and the second on a two-yard run by RB Deuce McAllister. McAllister had a good game, making his two of his longest runs of the season: the first was for 18 yards (pushing him above the 6,000 yard mark for his career), and the second was for 19 yards on the Saints last possession of the game. He had a total for 61 yards rushing on 9 attempts and 6 yards receiving on one catch.
Detroit answered back with a one-yard run up the middle for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The Lions had gone for it on fourth and three from the three yard line but Orlovsky threw an incomplete pass to WR Matt Gaines. Saints S Roman Harper gave the Lions a Christmas gift of another set of downs when he was called for pass interference on the play. RB Kevin Smith scored on the next play.
The Saints did not let that phase them as they scored twice again. RB Mike Bell ran one-yard into the end zone to cap off an 80-yard, 11 play drive with 4:44 left to go in the second. After three plays for Detroit, including a sack of Orlovsky by DE Jeff Charleston, Brees threw 32 yards to WR Devery Henderson and a two yard run by RB Pierre Thomas with less than a minute to go in the quarter put the score at 28 to 7 to end the half.
The Saints were perfect converting third down, making 6 of 6 and were 11 for 12 for the day. The Saints had outrushed the Lions 112 to 56 yards and passed for 156 yards compared to 69. New Orleans was only penalized once for 2 yards but the penalty set up Detroit’s only touchdown.
After the Lions first possession of the second half, the Saints made a big play when Brees threw to Henderson again, this time for 64 yards, leaving the Saints at the six yard-line. A short pass by Brees to Marques Colston gave the Saints a four touchdown lead. The Saints ensuing possession included a 17-yard pass to Colston, a 30-yard pass to Colston, a 21-yard pass to TE Billy Miller, and a short pass from the three to Colston for his second touchdown of the day.
For the day, New Orleans finished with 532 yards of offense: 181 yards rushing and 351 passing. Detroit had a total of 255 yards with 129 rushing and 126 passing. New Orleans was also perfect from the red zone, scoring touchdowns on all five attempts.
Pierre Tomas had 77 yards rushing and 26 yards receiving in the game. Colston had 99 yards and two touchdowns and Henderson had 96 yards.
Detroit RB Kevin Smith had 111 yards rushing and one touchdown. WR Calvin Johnson had 64 yards on 4 catches.
The Saints defense had two sacks: one by DE Sedrick Ellis and one by DE Jeff Charleston. CB Jason David had his fifth interception of the season with a little less than 10 minutes to go in the first quarter. Usama Young also had an interception on Orlovsky’s last throw of the game which was deep pass to WR Calvin Johnson.
The Saints return home next week against the Carolina Panthers for their final game of the season.