Seattle – The New Orleans Saints successfully walked a fine line Monday night against the Seahawks at Lumen Field.
They were a hair away from posting a double-digit victory, and a hair away from not posting a victory at all. Their 13-10 victory over the Seahawks raised their record to 4-2 and set up an NFC South Division showdown with Tampa Bay on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome.
But before that could become reality, the Saints had to take care of Seattle (2-5), and it needed several players to lead the way.
OFFENSE: Jameis Winston's numbers don't tell the story. He completed 19 of 35 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown, and ran eight times for 40 yards. But he was a couple of drops away from 300 yards, and five of his rushing attempts resulted in first downs (four of them came on scoring drives). True, a couple of them were quarterback sneaks on fourth-and-1, but those fourth-down conversions were critical for an offense that was a little stagnant at the time and needed a sustained scoring drive. Winston probably doesn't get enough credit for his mobility, but his legs were instrumental for New Orleans. The chemistry will continue to develop between him and his receivers, but he wielded a significant influence against Seattle despite the fact that the numbers were modest.
DEFENSE: Demario Davis had one of "those" games – 10 tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits, four tackles for loss and a pass defensed. And he was every bit as dominant as the numbers suggest. Davis was the kind of physical presence that takes over games – on one play, Davis ran through left guard Damien Lewis with such force that he pushed Lewis into his running back, and produced a tackle for loss. His second sacks, with 1:13 left in the game, pushed Seattle to fourth-and-28, and then he supplied the pass breakup on fourth down to seal the victory. At times, it probably looked like there were multiple Davises on the field because at times, he played that way.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Brian Johnson's field goals weren't long – 21 and 33 yards – but they were timely. The 33-yarder proved to be the game-winner, with 1:56 left, and was a great moment for a rookie who'd never kicked in an NFL regular-season game before he lined up in the wind, rain and cool of Seattle. He showed poise and accuracy, something the Saints hadn't had in their first five games, when kickers were a combined 1 for 4. Johnson understands he won't be New Orleans' long-term solution at kicker, but under the circumstances – hostile road crowd, bad weather, winning margin on his right foot – he was perfect for the Saints in Seattle.