From the cheap seats: Heartstopping Saints win over Eagles

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Sheldon Rankins
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 13: Sheldon Rankins #98 of the New Orleans Saints is carted off the field after sustaining an injury during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

It was interesting to see on the sidelines how Thomas Morstead keeps loose and works into the game, working with exercise bands. Strong professional. It’s why he stays at the top of the NFL in punting.

One individual play stood out. Taylor Stallworth made a massive play in stopping Darren Sproles. He absolutely manhandled his blocker and popped off him to stop Sproles for a one yard gain on a play that really could have gotten way more. Nice to see in the absence of Rankins.

Three things defined this game and set the tone. First, the first Lattimore interception. That gave us the ball when we really needed it, after going down two TDs. Second, the fake punt with Taysom Hill. Yes, it was obvious we might fake one there. But that makes it more impressive that you can get it with them playing for it. Third, the whole third quarter. The Eagles ran SIX plays in the third quarter. That’s unheard of.

The Saints got the ball after the initial Eagles possession of three plays and a punt. There was 13:09 left to go in the third quarter. When the Eagles got the ball back after the Saints scored to go ahead, 18 plays later, the clock read 1:40 to play in the quarter. I don’t recall a Saints drive taking 11:29, but that was a game changer.

Taysom Hill was relevant again. A few nice runs and then THAT PASS to Alvin Kamara. Yes, it was called back, but what a great play. Look for that call again. Never been a fan of Hill’s passing, but that one was fantastic.

Many people were speaking of the Carl Cheffers led officiating crew before the game. Cheffers’ crews have a reputation for home victories, winning 80% of their games. The Saints were 11-1 in games he’s officiated. Yes, the Saints won, but that crew did us no favors. Yes, Andrus Peat struggled with his hand injury, but we had a ton of penalties and ended up losing a TD due to one. We saw at least two ghost pass interference calls and a miserable holding call on Max Unger.

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End on a good note. After giving up two early TDs, the Saints did not allow any more points and they gave up less than 100 yards offense after the first quarter. So while the offense picked up the pace, the defense REALLY got work done. Brees went 28 of 38 for 301 yards, two TDs and a pick and running backs ran for 137 yards. And Michael Thomas went to town.