In the 2009 season when the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl, there were three games that one can point out as turning points for the team.
The first was the Miami Dolphins game where the Saints had a tremendous come from behind victory. The third one was the game against Washington in week 13.
That was the game where Drew Brees’ pass to Jeremy Shockey was intercepted, but then Robert Meacham ran down the defender and took the ball away from him and scored a TD all in one play. It was one of those crazy odd plays that have you feeling fate may be on your side.
The second one was a very special game.
The week before the Washington game the Saints played the New England Patriots. Of course, during this time frame, the Patriots were THE PATRIOTS. They were in the midst of a not great season by their standards, but it was still Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
The Saints won that game 38-17, and it really wasn’t even that close. The Saints dominated Brady and Belichick that night.
Such was the dominance that the Patriots basically quit in the game, pulling starters and only rushing the ball in their last couple of drives to simply get the game over. In this person’s opinion, it was a signature game not only that season but in Saints’ history.
It was that game that said “we belong here”.
When we fast forward to Sunday night’s Saints dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there’s an air of that same feeling of a signature win, or turning point. It’s not as if the Saints were losers – they came into the Tampa Bay game at 5-2, so they were winning enough.
But they hadn’t had a “get right” game.
This season has been sluggish, and COVID-19 hasn’t helped that. This was that “get right” game for the Saints. And the fact that only one analyst of dozens picked the Saints to win made it all the better that they not only beat the Bucs, but absolutely skunked them.
Before the game kicked off, a friend asked if the Saints had any chance to win. As I saw it, the keys to victory were:
- Win the turnover battle
- Win the time of possession
- Dominate the line of scrimmage both on offense and defense; put constant pressure on Brady who has shown to not be as adept in the pocket with pressure as he was in New England
- Make them one dimensional by taking away the run (even though our pass defense had been suspect)
- Win the special teams/field position battle – have Thomas Morstead pin them deep, stop them deep in their own territory on kickoffs, and have great returns from Deonte Harris.
How did the good guys do?