The Saints received the game’s opening kickoff, but failed to do much, quickly going three and out. Tom Coughlin’s decision to let New Orleans have the first possession worked to perfection, because not only did his defense get off of the field in a hurry, but his offense marched down to open the scoring with a touchdown. It was the local New Orleans connection from Eli Manning to Odell Beckham Jr on a 4th and goal from the 2 yard line that put the Giants up 7-0.
Drew Brees and his offense shook off their slow start, answering with a trick play. On a 2nd and 9 from the Giants 34 yard line, Sean Payton dialed up the flea-flicker and Brees hit Willie Snead, who made a leaping catch in the end zone for his second touchdown reception of the season, tying things at 7-7.
New York’s second possession went for a three and out, but former LSU Tiger Brad Wing pinned the Saints at their own 4 yard line with a beautiful punt. It only took one play for the Saints to escape the poor field position, though, as Brees scrambled and hit Ben Watson for a 46 yard gain up to mid field. A few plays later, Brandin Cooks caught a quick slant against one on one coverage and took it 26 yards to the house to give New Orleans their first lead at 14-7.
The back and forth escapades were just heating up, as Manning and his offense marched right back down to the goal line to try and even up the score. From the 1 yard line, Giants Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo called the exact same play that produced Beckham’s first touchdown reception and it worked again. On both plays, Beckham lined up as the outside receiver and ran a quick slant, with the slot receiver running a quick out, essentially setting a pick on Delvin Breaux, who was in coverage against the former Tiger.
Payton’s offense picked up a few first downs to quickly get the ball up near mid field. On a 1st and 10, Brees found Marques Colston who was wide open with no one anywhere near him thanks to a busted coverage in the Giants secondary and he trotted his way for the easiest 53 yard touchdown he could ever score. Just like that, New Orleans was back on top, 21-14.
New York’s next possession nearly turned disastrous for the Giants, as Manning’s 3rd down pass attempt slipped from his hand as he prepared his release, resulting in a live fumble. Fortunately for his team, Manning somehow managed to dive on top of the ball with Saints defenders around, saving a turnover, but forcing a punt. Starting with great field position at the Giants 40 yard line, the Saints would then go on a 14 play, 80 yard drive to extend their lead on Brees’ second touchdown pass to Willie Snead, but the scoring drive did not come without consequences. A few players prior, Khiry Robinson took a goal line hand off and had a defender fall on his leg, causing a gruesome injury that forced him to be carted off with an air cast. There has been no official word of his status, but seeing the picture of the play makes it look like a broken ankle that will sideline him for the rest of the season.
Down 28-14 with under two minutes left in the first half, Manning and the Giants executed a methodical 10 play, 80 yard drive to keep the game a one score contest heading in to halftime. Manning hit Shane Vereen with just :02 left on the clock for a 2 yard touchdown pass, cutting the score to 28-21.
Coming out of halftime, New York wasted no time in tying things up, as Manning and Beckham hooked up for their third touchdown connection of the day, this one coming on a 50 yard pass. Both Delvin Breaux and Jairus Byrd were in the neighborhood, but they let the star wide out get just behind them to haul in the deep reception to knot things up at 28-28. Brees and the Saints kept at it, though, driving 80 yards in just 8 plays to reclaim the lead on a 21 yard touchdown pass to Cooks for his second of the day. The score gave Brees his fifth touchdown of the day, coming on a beautifully thrown pass and an excellent over the shoulder catch to get New Orleans back out in front at 35-28.
On the ensuing drive, Saints fans got what they have been waiting for for a season and a half, as Jairus Byrd came up with his first takeaway in black and gold. Byrd stripped the ball from tight end Will Tye, then recovered it himself, setting his team up with great field position at the Giants 36 yard line. With a golden opportunity to extend his team’s lead, Brees made his only mistake of the day, throwing a bad pass that was intended for Cooks, but picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
After starting deep in his own territory, Rashad Jennings provided a run of 17 yards and a reception of 25 yards to help New York get out near mid field at their own 46 yard line. Unfortunately for them, that was all that they could get going and had to punt a few plays later. Showing no reluctance to slow down, Brees marched his offense right down the field on a 9 play, 80 yard drive that resulted in his sixth touchdown pass of the day, this one to Ben Watson to give New Orleans a 42-28 lead.
The Giants took over and started moving the ball right back down on Rob Ryan’s defense, but caught a huge break when it looked like they were about to completely fall apart for good. On a 3rd and 6, Manning was sacked by Bobby Richardson, having lost the ball for Tyler Davison to come up with what appeared to be another takeaway for the Saints. Instead, Delvin Breaux was called for an extremely questionable holding penalty, which not only negated the turnover, but gave New York a first down. They took advantage, while scoring their second touchdown of the day on a 4th down attempt. This one came from Manning to Dwayne Harris, shrinking the Saints lead to 42-35.
That kicked off a period of struggle for the Saints, as they eventually lost control of the game. Right after Brees and the offense went three and out with their next possession, New York struck quickly with a 3 play, 65 yard touchdown drive that knotted the game at 42-42. Harris caught his second touchdown of the day, while Manning threw his sixth. New Orleans took the ball and quickly got in to New York territory, but a perfectly timed hit from Rodgers-Cromartie caused Snead to fumble right after making a catch and the ball popped right in to Trumaine McBride’s arms and he was off to the races for a 63 yard return for the touchdown. The Giants took a 49-42 lead, their first lead since the score was 7-0.
With 7:11 left in the game, Brees and the offense took over and showed no signs that they felt any pressure. Early in the drive they faced a 4th and 1 from their own 29 yard line and Payton decided to put faith in his offense’s ability to pick up one yard, rather than his defense come through with a stop if they chose to punt. The gamble paid off and the Saints chipped their way on down the field, while running the clock down down inside of one minute left to play. On a 2nd and 8 from the Giants 9 yard line, Brees found C.J. Spiller across the middle of the field, who scored his second touchdown of the season putting the game in the hands of Kai Forbath to tie it up with the extra point. Forbath booted it through as the clock read :36 to go. The touchdown pass from Brees was his seventh of the game, which set his personal record and tied the NFL single game record.
With all three of their timeouts, the Giants came out attacking to try and get in to field goal range to attempt to win the game in regulation. Instead, they could only gain five yards and run the clock down to :20 in the process, being forced to punt the ball away. Brad Wing chose not to punt the ball out of bounds, which gave Marcus Murphy a chance to make something happen. He did just that, weaving his way for a 24 yard return before fumbling the ball right in to Willie Snead’s hands, who was then tackled by his facemask. The return and the penalty put the ball at the Giants 32 yard line with just :05 left to go. Forbath lined up for his first field goal attempt as a Saint and drilled right through to cap off one of the most thrilling football games you could ever watch. The field goal, being the first score other than a touchdown for either team, gave New Orleans the 52-49 victory.
- Drew Brees – 40-50 / 511 yards / 7 TDs / 1 INT / 80% completions / 140.5 QB rating / 0 times sacked
- Mark Ingram – 16 carries / 80 yards / 5.0 yards per carry / 4 receptions / 39 yards
- C.J. Spiller – 4 carries / 21 yards / 5.3 yards per carry / 2 receptions / 15 yards / 1 TD
- Khiry Robinson – 4 carries / 4 yards / 2 receptions / 13 yards
- Ben Watson – 9 receptions / 147 yards / 1 TD
- Marques Colston – 8 receptions / 114 yards / 1 TD
- Brandin Cooks – 6 receptions / 88 yards / 2 TDs
- Willie Snead – 7 receptions / 76 yards / 2 TDs
- Stephone Anthony – 11 tackles / 1 pass defended
- Brandon Browner – 8 tackles / 1 pass defended / 4 penalties called
- Delvin Breaux – 6 tackles
- Jairus Byrd – 3 tackles / 1 forced fumble / 1 fumble recovery
- Kasim Edebali/Ramon Humber – 1 sack each
- Kai Forbath – 7/7 XPs / 1/1 FGs (50)
- Eli Manning – 30-41 / 350 yards / 6 TDs / 0 INTs / 73.2% completions / 138.2 QB rating / 3 times sacked
- Rashad Jennings – 10 carries / 54 yards / 5.4 yards per carry / 2 receptions / 31 yards
- Orleans Darkwa – 4 carries / 23 yards
- Shane Vereen – 8 receptions / 60 yards / 1 TD
- Odell Beckham Jr. – 8 receptions / 130 yards / 3 TDs
- Dwayne Harris – 3 receptions / 37 yards / 2 TDs
- Reuben Randle – 5 receptions / 55 yards
- Landon Collins – 9 tackles
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – 7 tackles / 1 INT / 1 pass defended
- Jayron Hosley – 7 tackles
- Johnathan Hankins – 7 tackles
- Jonathan Casillas – 6 tackles / 1 pass defended
- Josh Brown – 7/7 XPs
- Total yards: Saints-614, Giants-416
- Pass yards: Saints-511, Giants-329
- Rush yards: Saints-103, Giants-87
- 1st downs: Saints-35, Giants-28
- 3rd down conversions: Saints-7/11 (64%), Giants-1/8 (13%)
- Red zone TD conversions: Saints-2/2 (100%), Giants-4/4 (100%)
- Turnovers: Saints-2, Giants-1
- Points off turnovers: Saints-0, Giants-7
- Penalties: Saints-12/93, Giants-6/53
- Possession: Saints-34:59, Giants-25:01
The Saints, now at an even 4-4, will stay at home to welcome the Tennessee Titans, who sit with a 1-6 record after losing to the Houston Texans 20-6 today. The Titans blew out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first week of the season, but have lost six straight games since then. Marcus Mariota, the #2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, has missed the past two games with an MCL sprain, so we will have to monitor his status on whether or not he will be able to return to the field for Sunday’s matchup. If not, it will be former LSU Tiger Zach Mettenberger under center for the Titans.
Stay tuned for the Grading the Saints and Sinners article that will follow this one. I hope everyone enjoyed the game today. I’m not sure how any Saints fan didn’t! Thanks for tuning in and be sure to let us know your thoughts!