SAINTS 30, VIKINGS 20

Saints vs Vikings: Observations on New Orlean's win in Minnesota

Drew Brees was not at his best. Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The rematch from the Minnesota Miracle in last year’s NFC playoffs took place Sunday night. The Saints came out victorious with a 30-20 victory. Let’s jump right into how I saw this win shake out:

The Good

-Taysom Hill normally comes in the game to run read option plays only. When Sean Payton called a play action pass, Hill found Michael Thomas for a 44 yard catch deep middle that led to the team’s first touchdown. Payton continues to make good use of Hill.

-The defense held the Vikings to only 85 yards rushing. Normally, it’s their pass defense that’s an Achilles heel (more on them later), but the run defense can be just as bad. Some of that can be attributed to…

-…Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport starting to pay dividends. Both are former first rounders, Rankins in 2016 and Davenport in 2018, who have lofty expectations to live up to (especially Davenport since they gave up next year’s first rounder to move up to get him. They both provided key sacks (Rankins with two, Davenport with one) tonight. They were both also key in stopping the run.

The Bad

-Drew Brees threw his first interception of the season in the second quarter. Vikings showed A-gap blitz (between center and guard) and a defensive end came free to pressure him. His pass to Michael Thomas was high and Harrison Smith beat Thomas for the jump ball. Being down 13-10 on the road in prime time to a conference rival mid-season isn’t time to throw your first pick.

-Brees only threw for 120 yards. Normally this is a recipe for disaster, but the defense actually helped them win. Moving forward, he’ll need to have more of an impact if they expect to live up to lofty expectations.

- Saints kicker Will Lutz had to bail out his team twice. Alvin Kamara dropped a for sure first down catch on third and three from the Vikings’ 34, but Lutz hit from 52 yards out. Drew Brees committed an intentional grounding penalty on third and goal from the 10 yard line, but the penalty pushed it back to the 24. Lutz came through with a 42-yarder. Trading field goals for touchdowns won’t win playoff games.

The Ugly

- P.J. Williams was picked on early and often. With Ken Crawley out, Williams had to start. In the first quarter, Stefon Diggs burned him for a big gain and then a touchdown on fourth down on the Vikings’ first possession. His pass interference in the end zone in second quarter led to the Vikings second touchdown.

-Penalties were again a factor. The Saints posted seven for 64 yards this game, with most of those coming on pass interference calls from guys who shouldn’t be playing a significant role as previously stated.

-3.7 yards per carry on 29 rushes for a total of 106 yards is another number that reveals how fortunate the Saints were to win. When this team wins and dominates, so does the run game. Couple this with a subpar yardage performance from Brees, and this was another loss waiting to happen.

The Saints are now 6-1, in lead of the NFC South division, and on course to face the Rams for NFC supremacy next week. They’ve pasted this test and will move on to the next test on their difficult schedule. To consider yourself a true contender in the NFL, you must be able to blow teams out, as well as win ugly. This team has proven to do both. They’ve “exorcized the demon” of the Vikings… for now. Next up is the bully on the NFC block. They win next week, they’ll be the new favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome