Saints 31, Cardinals 9

Saints vs Cardinals: Good, bad and ugly

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Drew Brees made his return from the thumb injury and helped lead the Saints to a home win over the Cardinals. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Unlike the school in his hometown that passed on him, Drew Brees is back folks! He was 34/43 for 373 yards with three touchdowns and an interception (more on that later). The offense looked like it was running on all cylinders with Brees under center mainly because...

-...Latavius Murray and Michael Thomas ate big! Murray filled in nicely for Alvin Kamara as he totaled 30 touches for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Thomas made sure to welcome back Cardinals' top corner Patrick Peterson back in style by catching every target with Peterson guarding him, including carrying into the endzone for a touchdown. There's a reason he came into the game leading the league in targets, receptions, and receiving yards.

-The defense logged their fifth consecutive game in a row allowing less than 300 total yards of offense. They sacked Kyler Murray three times and completely stiffleed the run game by allowing a paltry 13 yards. This defense is legit. They stepped up in Brees' absence and have continued to play at a high level. Ih this unit keeps it up, I feel sorry for the rest of the NFL. (*That last statement is a complete lie and a fake attempt at sounding like I care.)

The Bad

-Brees took a shot down field to fullback Zach Line while he was double covered and threw a pick. This was one of the plays Brees will take a shot on regardless of what he sees because of his faith in his arm and receivers. If it were Thomas, yes. But the fullback?

-As good as this defense has played, they whiffed a few times on sacking Murray. I know. I know. The kid is as slippery as an eel bathed in Vaseline swimming in lotion, but when you have a free rusher multiple times totally miss on a sack, it's frustrating to watch.

-While Thomas and Murray did their thing, I have the same complaint when Kamara is playing: over-reliance on this duo. What happens when a team keys in on Thomas and Kamara/Murray? I'm fully confident they'll spread the ball around and generate offense, but this will continue to be a worry.

The Ugly

-After he missed a 47-yard field goal on the opening drive, I'm almost convinced Will Lutz has something in his head. A fart on your brain as my grandfather would call it. He's now missed three in the last two games. With the offense back on track and the defense playing lights out, now isn't the time for the kicker to get the yips.

-Twice the defense blew coverages and gave up big plays: once on a flea flicker, the other on one of the previously mentioned plays in which Murray was able to elude a free rusher.

-Yeah...I've got nothing here. No injuries to report this week thank God. Although Erik McCoy went down early, he came back. This team can't afford any injuries. Health is a major concern, but the next man up mentality has proven fruitful.

Beating inferior teams is what good teams do. The Cardinals aren't necessarily a bad team per se, but they aren't on the Saints' level. Towards th eend of the game, both teasms offered up the huma white flags in forms of backup quarterbacks. Teddt Bridgewater got a rousing ovation along with "Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!" chants from the home crowd. There were a few onions being cut here considering the love he was showed after what he's been through and how he led this team to a 5-0 record in Brees' absence. The Saints now get rest week before playing the woeful Falcons. Hopefully, they'll get a few guys back form injury (and P.J. Williams is eligible to return from suspension) and can continue their winning ways.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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