I’m still searching for words to adequately describe the New Orleans Saints’ 30-28, season-opening victory over Houston in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday night. What I’m not looking for, is standout players.
Here we go:
OFFENSE: Honestly, at first, this was going to be Michael Thomas. And that would’ve been reasonable, after he finished with game highs in receptions (10) and receiving yards (123). Then, it was going to be Alvin Kamara, because his impact – 13 carries for 97 yards, and seven catches for 72 yards, and 140 of his 169 yards from scrimmage coming in the second half – exhibited his multiple uses offensively. But Drew Brees still hangs his cape in the Superdome, and as long as he does, the Saints have a chance. The Saints twice trailed by 11 points, and Brees led the comeback as only he can. He completed 32 of 43 passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns, both in the second half, with an interception – including 16 of 20 for 210 yards in the final two quarters. On the game-winning drive, to set up Wil Lutz’s 58-yard field goal as time expired, Brees completed three of four passes for 35 yards as New Orleans perfectly executed its hurry-up. Vintage.
DEFENSE: We’ve been talking about the new-look Trey Hendrickson since training camp, and we saw it during preseason. It carried over to the regular-season opener, at least. The defensive end picked up two of the Saints’ six sacks, and also was credited with two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and three tackles. Hendrickson was busy and disruptive. Props to defensive end Cam Jordan, a Level 1 wreaker of havoc. He had a sack, a tackle for loss (another was nullified when the Saints accepted a holding penalty), two quarterback hits and six tackles. And with him sliding along the defensive line, he presented multiple problems. But Hendrickson produced his best NFL game, and the Saints will need more of that from him this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Lutz. Let’s not waste time or insult anyone. A 58-yard game-winner as time expires is about as clutch as it gets. He probably should have been in the Pro Bowl last season, and he really has to be considered among the best in the business. Yep, he missed a 56-yarder in the first half, but the more attempts he gets, the easier it is to see why the Saints gave him a contract extension this offseason and why he looks like he’ll be a fixture in New Orleans for years.