The Sports Daily > The Saints Nation
Saints Nation: Saints Escape Tennessee with a Hard Fought 22-17 Victory

This team is going to send me into a full fledged cardiac arrest before the season is over. The Saints looked in total control midway through the 4th quarter as they took a commanding 22-10 lead. Then, out of nowhere, Jake Locker started gashing the Saints down the field. The end result was two plays from the Saints’ 5 yard line with 9 seconds to go to win the game for the Titans. Fortunately, the defense stepped up huge when it had to, with Tracy Porter breaking up a slant route, and Jo-Lonn Dunbar ending the game on a sack. The Saints escape Nashville with a very fortunate 22-17 win, though it never should have gotten that close. With a 10-3 record the Saints can clinch the playoffs with a Bears loss later today, or a win in any of their last three games (which also, coincidentally, would clinch the NFC South). Below are my bullets on the game:

  • Brees was oustanding, per usual, but I can’t understand the decision on 3rd and 7 with 1:44 left to throw for the life of me. The Titans were out of timeouts and if you run the ball, you can punt and give them back the ball with well under a minute left. Not only was the play call poor on that down, the execution by Brees was incredibly uncharacteristic. That was just poor all the way around. He’s lucky that wasn’t intercepted, and why trust throwing a ball to Ivory who hasn’t caught a pass all season long in that situation??? 
  • The game featured 19 penalties between the two teams, most coming in the first half. Many were legitimate, and others were exaggerated calls by a clearly flag happy crew. Ironically there were a few penalties (Malcolm Jenkins hitting a receiver early on the opening possession) that went unflagged. The crew was out to take control of this game and the result was a 6-3 halftime score. Painful to watch.
  • Jed Collins and Jermon Bushrod had 5 penalties between them, at least. Horrible.
  • Courtney Roby had 5 tackles on special teams by my count. What an oustanding day in coverage. A couple of those were very tough plays in the open field.
  • Will Smith was very good and had a sack.
  • The interior defensive line, without Sedrick Ellis, deserves a game ball. They were terrific on the interior all day long dominating in the trenches. Rogers and Franklin both were excellent, and Franklin was the one responsible for that 4th and 1 stop late in the game. 
  • Chris Johnson finished with 11 carries for 23 yards. The Saints completely shut him down.
  • Tracy Porter can’t tackle to save his life. 
  • Will Herring was beaten on numerous long passes over the middle of the field. Sometimes he was on Nate Washington. Why, God, why?
  • While Jake Locker’s accuracy was poor, I was impressed with his ability to get out of the pocket and make plays. The guy is a gamer and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Titans were ready to go with him the rest of the way.
  • Matt Hasselbeck hurting his calf probably saved the Saints in this game, hate to say it. While Locker got hot late, his accuracy on timing routes with open receivers was not good.
  • Darren Sproles must have had close to 200 yards worth of gains called back by penalties.
  • Malcolm Jenkins came up with some big hits in this game and was a sure tackler as the last line of defense.
  • Isa Abdul-Quddus has been on the field in center field on some plays and that experiment is not really working out.
  • Marques Colston was targeted 7 times. Result? 7 catches, 102 yards, 2 touchdowns.  
  • Jimmy Graham had back spasm issues and was clearly affected by it but he went out and competed hard. He finished with 5 catches for 55 yards and should have had a touchdown. Give him credit for being tough as nails.
  • Ivory had some nice runs but he was kind of up and down. He didn’t get north and south enough for my taste and too often tried to bounce things outside. Still, he did a decent job filling in for Ingram.
  • If Mike Carey never refs another Saints game I’ll be a happy man.
  • Gregg Williams’ prevent where he blitzes DB’s and drops linebackers into coverage on receivers needs to stop. Immediately. He is fooling no one and it’s a liability

That’s all I got. Stay turned for the grades. Big road win for the Saints.