That should qualify as ascension, even by Drew Brees’ measurements.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback recently has stressed that he wants to see the team ascending as it enters the playoffs and Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Saints (11-3) provided an example of what Brees is referencing in a 34-7 victory over Indianapolis (6-8).
The Saints were thorough from start to finish against the Colts, with only a late, cosmetic touchdown scored by the Colts to provide a noticeable blemish. Otherwise, New Orleans had its way on a night when the Super Bowl XLIV champs were honored on their 10-year anniversary, and Brees etched his name in the NFL record book twice more.
OFFENSE: New Orleans didn't score as many points as it did in its loss to San Francisco (46) and it failed to score a touchdown on one of its two goal-to-go possessions. But 34 points, 5 of 9 on third down, 36:22 in time of possession and the most accurate single-game passing performance in NFL history – Brees completed 29 of 30 passes, a league-record 96.7 percent rate – was more than enough to overwhelm the Colts. Brees threw for four touchdowns and 307 yards and for one of the few times, he might even have eclipsed his own expectations. New Orleans didn't run it great (33 carries for 117 yards) but it ran often enough to keep the Colts honest on defense, and Brees displayed his pocket mobility while not being sacked. Four receivers caught the touchdown passes and nine players had a reception. That kind of balance is difficult to contain for any defense.
DEFENSE: You knew New Orleans would be better defensively after allowing 48 points to San Francisco last Sunday, but you didn't know the Saints would be that much better. True, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett missed some throws and in a game where his opposite number (Brees) wasn't missing anything, every miss was magnified. But, too, New Orleans was much better in the secondary than it was against the 49ers (159 net passing yards allowed) and the Saints got back to their stingy ways against the run (17 carries for a 2.7-yard average for the Colts). The defense will be agitated by the late touchdown it allowed, but the Saints now have three games this season in which the defense has allowed 12 points or less. When the defense is playing like it did Monday night, the Saints are tough to beat.
SPECIAL TEAMS: It's rare this season when special teams hasn't made an impactful play or two, and Monday wasn't an exception. Dwayne Washington's deflected punt in the first quarter set the tone for the Saints, who took possession and produced a field goal off the deflection. The Saints now have three deflections (Washington, Taysom Hill and Zach Line) and a blocked punt (J.T. Gray) this season. Kicker Wil Lutz extended his current streak to 16 straight field goals made and the Saints didn't give an inch in the return game. As has been the case most of the season, the special teams were a noticeable complement to the other units.
The New Orleans Saints host the Indianapolis Colts at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday, December 16, 2019.