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Whew Dat! Saints Edge Bengals 34-30

In a game that Sean Payton predicted could very well go down to the wire, it was a gutsy call by him that ultimately led to the game winning touchdown. It wasn’t as though the Saints hadn’t prepared for this game because it was obvious that they had. The cold weather didn’t seem to affect them either. But penalties and a critical interception did more to hinder their efforts than did the 13 degree temperatures and snow flurries. Yet several big plays and some tough running by Chris Ivory made all the difference in the world.

Drew Brees started the game by hitting Marques Colston with a beautiful 43-yard strike to get the Saints into Bengals territory. However, they ended up having to punt after that, but a running into the kicker penalty gave the Saints five extra yards which allowed for a Garrett Hartley field goal. The Saints led 3-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.

New Orleans defense had held the Bengals pretty well in check up until that point. But subsequently afterward, they allowed Cincinnati to convert a 3rd and 15 and a 4th and 12, dwarfing the effects of a sack by Jonathan Vilma (who had a ProBowl type of performance today). The Bengals went on to tie it up at 3 early in the 2nd quarter.

But then it was time for the Chris Ivory Show. The speedy running back jetted through a hole and sprinted down the field for a 55-yard touchdown. It marked the longest run by any Saint this season and the longest of Ivory’s young career. The Saints led 10-3 at that point.

It wasn’t long before penalties once again aided the Bengals’ cause when Tracy Porter was flagged for a 45-yard pass interference for failing to turn around to locate the ball while defending Terrell Owens. The defense held the Bengals to a field goal in spite of the penalty though, making the score 10-6 in favor of the Saints.

The Saints offense sputtered out sending the defense back out onto the field. Cincinnati then put together a productive drive that ended when the Saints dropped Cedric Benson on a 4th and inches. Brees then hit Jimmy Graham with a 52-yard bullet that set up a 24-yard field goal by Hartley. The Saints took a 13-6 lead into halftime.

The second half started out well for New Orleans. Brees and company methodically maneuvered the field on a 66-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 2-yard run by Ivory, giving him his second of the day. The score was then 20-6. But the Bengals answered back with an impressive 60-yard scoring drive of their own. A missed PAT by their kicker, Clint Stitser, made the score 20-12.

Then, Brees threw an interception and all the momentum with it. The Bengals marched down the field after that and scored almost effortlessly. Just like that, the score was 20-19.

But you know the Saints weren’t done. Brees hit Meachem with another 52-yard bullet down the sideline and he ran it in for another quick New Orleans score. The Saints led 27-19. But the Bengals did not go away quietly. More penalties against the Saints helped them out considerably too. After the defense had forced Cincinnati to punt, the Saints were flagged for having too many men on the field, giving the Bengals new life. It turned out to be very costly as they marched down the field and Benson got in for the touchdown. After a successful 2-point conversion, the game was tied at 27.

Late in the 4th quarter, the Bengals capped off another very productive drive with a field goal to take a 30-27 lead over the Saints. It felt just like the game against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day all over again. New Orleans needed at least a field goal to tie the game up with the clock winding down in the 4th quarter. But I don’t think any Saints fan would have argued that a touchdown would have been more ideal considering our past kicking problems in tight games.
And naturally, Coach Payton was thinking win all the way.

In a very gutsy call on 4th and 2 with the game on the line, Payton opted to go for it after having just called a timeout. Fortunately, Brees was able to draw the Bengals offside and give the Saints first and goal. He then hit Meachem with a 3-yard touchdown pass to give the Saints a 34-30 lead and ultimately the winning score.

Even though the Saints won this one, it was definitely not one of their better performances from a penalty standpoint. There were far too many penalties that literally sucked the life out of some Saints drives and pumped life into some of the Bengals’. Such undisciplined play stands to overshadow all of the outstanding performances by various players. Drew Brees completed an impressive 24 of 29 passes today for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns; Chris Ivory had 117 yards on 15 carries and 2 touchdowns; Marques Colston had three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown; Robert Meachem had three catches for 103 yards and a touchdown; Sedrick Ellis recorded his 5th sack of the season; Jonathan Vilma recorded his 3rd sack of the season; Roman Harper recorded 9 tackles (5 solo) and a sack; and Jimmy Graham continues to be impressive with his ability to catch and get down the field. He grabbed a 52-yard strike (from Brees) that propelled Brees past Archie Manning as the Saints all-time passing yardage leader at 34, 280.  Congratulations, Drew!

Thanks to the brilliant, no guts–no glory play calling of Sean Payton,  the Saints are 9-3 and still very much alive in the NFC.   Coach Payton said after the game, “We did some good things, but we still have a lot to correct.”  Those words ring ever so true if that journey is to continue.  Until then, 9-3 looks very good to me.

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10 Responses to “Whew Dat! Saints Edge Bengals 34-30”

  1. Risha Holmes says:

    I was really worried about the weather being a factor, but it seems the cold didn’t phase them! I am SO proud of our Saints!!!

    I can see the Playoffs from my backyard!

  2. John Young says:

    hey anyone got any news on why morestead is not talking kick-offs anymore? hartley has taken over for the past few games…
    i guess hes injured in a certain way which means he can punt but not kick off…

    • John, I was wondering that same thing. I guess that’ll be my mission for the week to try to find out why. Also, you hit the nail on the head when you predicted that Ivory would have a great game. You really know your stuff. Thanks for your comment as always!

  3. Pasquale says:

    Hartley has kicked e ball out of bounds at least 3 times now and only has 2 touchbacks. We need morestead to take that role back. Overall I think our offense played well , ivory just seems to get better and better, bush is still rusty, and our defense can’t give up these 3rd and longs the way they did today. Overall we found a way to win and thats what defending superbowl champs do baby!!!!!!

    • You summed it up so nicely! I really would like to see the defense get a bit more aggressive the way it used to be. Dropping back in coverage is okay, but our guys are still getting burned too much. 3rd and 15–4th and 12–are you kidding me? Overall though, the Saints played a good game. I’d love to see them protect the leads more and not lapse back into the Saints of old. Thank you for your comment as always!

  4. Marylyn says:

    I on the other hand honestly think the weather DID affect them. I just believe they were really good at adjusting and making it look easy. There were a few mistakes that I do believe the weather was the biggest cause for. For one thing, there is no way it didn’t affect their thinking at all. However, we have physically and mentally strong boys that know how to do what needs to be done to get a win. They just that and that’s why were victorious. Sean is an intellectual. He’ll beat you by being one step ahead. That’s the sort of play calling I’ve missed all year.

    • Marylyn, thanks so much for your comment. You know, I still say the weather didn’t affect the guys. They looked very sharp yesterday. They were able to make big plays both running, throwing, and receiving. I’ve seen Saints teams in the past who’ve gone up North to play in the cold and they were anything but sharp. We can’t blame the penalties on the cold because they’ve been plaguing the team all season long. Jahri Evans is the most penalized player in the league right now. There is a lack of discipline certainly. None of that has to do with the weather. You must keep in mind that despite the Bengals’ dismal record, they are the defending AFC North champs, arguably the toughest division in all of football. I expected a tough game and that’s what we got. The better team won, but that doesn’t mean the Bengals didn’t put up a good fight. Nonetheless, I believe that Coach Payton will get that under control simply because he won’t tolerate it. Thanks again for your comment and please keep reading!

  5. Great article, you covered almost all of the bases! I wish we could get some answers about why we are letting these teams start on their own 30-50 yard line. Punting, kicking and covering the run backs. Only thing that comes to mind is tenative. It looks like they’re afraid to go get someone. I know Coach will address this with them and it will improve! I have Faith! P.S. Almost losing is better than almost winning every time!

  6. Konnie, thanks so much for your comment. You know, we’ve been plagued by deficiencies on special teams for a while. Coach Payton really has tried hard to address that area and pick up players who can play special teams as well as other positions. That’s why you’ll see certain players get signed and you wonder why. It’s because they’re supposed to be good on special teams. I know I saw Coach Payton getting irate with the special teams coach yesterday on the sideline. I can tell you that I expect to see some improvement though because we all know that Payton won’t tolerate too much of that sluggish play. It can affect games in a bad way if they don’t get it under control and I believe that he’ll keep plugging away at it until it gets better. At least let’s hope so. And you’re right, a win by any point is better than losing.

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