Last week was Thanksgiving, and I thought about all the things for which Who Dats can be thankful in a season that hasn't been all good cheer ...
5. P-Rob's pick-6 (Saints vs. Eagles). The Saints were coming off an ugly loss to the Denver Broncos, and in this Nov. 5 game, New Orleans' first possession resulted in a missed 52-yard field goal. The Philadelphia Eagles then got to the Saints 5-yard line in three plays. On the next play, cornerback Patrick Robinson picked off Eagles quarterback Michael Vick at the 1-yard line and returned the ball 99 yards for a touchdown. It was the first big play of the season made by a beleaguered defense. New Orleans went on to win easily, 28-13.
4. Saints roughing the passer drive (Saints vs. Chargers). In a Sunday night prime time game Oct. 7, the 0-4 Saints opened the second half trailing the San Diego Chargers 17-14. Two plays after the opening half kickoff, Saints quarterback Drew Brees was picked off. Three plays later, San Diego scored a touchdown, increasing its lead to 24-14. A 0-5 opening to the season looked all too possible. Two Saints drives later, Brees was picked off and it was returned for a touchdown — but a roughing-the-passer penalty nullified the score. Five plays later Brees hit receiver Marques Colston to score a touchdown. The Saints would go on to score 17 unanswered points and make it 31-24 for the team's first win of the season.
3. The deflection (Saints vs. Falcons). The Saints' archrivals, the Atlanta Falcons, entered the Superdome Nov. 11 undefeated and talking lots of smack. It was a roller coaster of a game that saw the Falcons score early before the Saints fought back to take a 28-17 lead, only to have Atlanta battle back. With the score 31-27 with less than two minutes to play, it was fourth and goal from the Saints' 2-yard line when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan dropped back and passed to what looked like an open receiver in Roddy White. At the last second, Saints cornerback Jabari Greer deflected the ball, sealing the win. The fans went nuts.
2. The hustle tackle (Saints vs. Buccaneers). Up 28-21 and following a Thomas Morstead punt downed at the Tampa Bay 4-yard line, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman hit receiver Vincent Jackson Oct. 25 for what looked to be a 96-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, however, tackled Jackson at the 1-yard line. The Saints defense held on, keeping the Bucs from scoring. The play was later heralded by Saints coaches and players as an example of the team's "won't give up" attitude. The Saints went on to win 35-28.
1. Ivory beast-mode run (Saints vs. Falcons). For weeks Saints fans pleaded for coaches to play running back Chris Ivory in hopes he could turn around a nonexistent running game. After picking up 48 yards on 10 carries in his first action of the season against Philadelphia, Ivory's first run of the day against Atlanta Nov. 11 was even better. On second and 10, Ivory ran off the right side, then cut back to the left and gave Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson a glorious stiff-arm en route to a 56-yard touchdown run. The run turned the momentum in the game, got the fans going and helped propel the Saints to a 31-27 win.
After a tumultuous offseason and a rough start, we can all be thankful that it appears we'll have meaningful Black and Gold football for the next month and a half.