Saints 34, Colts 7

Saints vs Colts: Good, bad and ugly

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Saints were coming off a tough loss and managed to bounce back nicely with a blowout win over the Colts. Here are my observations:

The Good

-The Drew Brees/Sean Payton pairing is arguably the second best quarterback/head coach tandem in this era of football. The synergy they have is unreal. Outside Tom Brady/Bill Belichick, you can't name a better duo. Props to Brees for breaking the all time passing touchdown record on another big stage. Brees went 29/30 (96.7% is a single game record) for 307 yards and four touchdowns.

-Michael Thomas is not human. He's Brees' favorite target. Teams know he's going to get targeted at least 10 times a game or more. He doesn't have take the top off the defense speed. Yet, he still gets wide open! Thomas had 12 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. He's now 11 catches away from breaking the catches in a season record.

-Demario Davis is the playmaker the Saints have severely lacked at linebacker. He blitzes, covers, and stuffs the run better than any line backer this team has had since the Dome Patrol. I'm not saying he's a future Hall of Famer, but he's definitely making the team's Ring of Honor. Davis pressured Jacoby Brissett, as well as made key stops in both the run and pass game.

The Bad

-There was a play in the 1st quarter in which Brees got up from the turf and had to adjust his jersey, pads, and mouthpiece. That's something no saints fan wants to see, much less something Brees wants to feel. Keeping him clean is a high priority.

-43 seconds into the 2nd quarter, Brees threw his first and only incompletion of the first half short right to Latavius Murray. Bum! He couldn't complete 100% of his passes tonight because he missed that throw to Murray. What a joke! This bum deserves to lose his job!

-The defense played very well...until they put more backups in. That's when Saquan Hampton gave up an unnecessary pass interference call that set up the Colts' one touchdown with a shade over four minutes left in the game. So much for serving donuts.

The Ugly

-When right guard Larry Warford went down, so did the hearts of many Saints fans. He's been a lynchpin of that offensive line unit since he signed as a free agent from the Lions a couple years ago. His leg got rolled up on from friendly fire. Looks like he should be okay.

-An offensive pass interference call wiped out Brees' would be record breaking touchdown pass at the end of the first half. Tre'Quan Smith was flagged when the refs assumed his slight hand push gained him a significant enough advantage that the touchdown shouldn't count. I've seen way worse not be called or reviewed. At minimum, the booth should've upheld the touchdown. But then again this is like asking criminals to judge other criminals.

-With Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport out for the season, it's time for the next man up mentality. While those guys will be missed, the Saints can't let up. They were fortunate to get by the Colts and their power run game without incident because they jumped out to a big lead. The Titans next week will present a different challenge in stopping the run, so will the Panthers if they decide to play for pride in week 17, as will every NFC playoff team outside possibly the Packers.

There's just something magical about the Saints and Monday Night Football in the Brees/Payton era, especially when Brees has a shot at breaking some sort of record. The Saints took full advantage of the opening created by the 49ers inexplicably losing to the Falcons by beating the Colts. The NFC race for the #1 seed is now wide open and up for grabs over the last couple weeks of the regular season. Maybe those blown coverages and questionable calls to go for two in the 49ers loss won't come back to haunt the Saints afterall. Or maybe they will. Only time will tell. There's still two more games left to play for everybody and anything can happen.

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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