Photo lifted from NFL.com
They weren't. At all. Was there ever a doubt how this game would turn out?
OK, so when Tim Hightower scored that 70-yard touchdown on the opening play of the game, fans in the Superdome got a little restless. But the Saints' responded emphatically. The offense responded by scoring on six of their first seven possesions. The defense responded by forcing a fumble, nabbing an interception and knocking Kurt Warner (briefly) out of the game. The end result, of course, was a blowout of epic proportions in a game that was only exciting to watch for Saints fans (not that they're complaining).
Just get ready for next week, when The Most Important Game In The History Of the Saints will be played. For now, on to the post-game feast:
- Drew Brees - The past month or so when Brees was putting up mere pedestrian numbers is all but forgotten now, isn't it? He was 23-of-32 for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball effectively (six receivers notched catches) and, surprisingly enough, did it all by completing just one pass of more than 26 yards (the 44-yard flea-flicker touchdown pass to Devery Henderson).
- Reggie Bush - Sweet heavens to Betsy that fella had a helluva game! In a performance tha should shut up his detractors (present company included) for at least the time being, Bush turned in the performance of his career: 217 all-purpose yards and two highlight reel touchdowns that all but destroyed any hope the Cardinals had of winning. Just check out this run. It's almost like he's trying to earn all that money he's making!
- Sean Payton - First words that come out of his mouth when he reached the post-game podium: "So much for being rusty." Payton has plenty of reason to get all egotistical and smarmy, the sporting press has been recently questioning his team's effort, talent and desire following three-straight losses to end the season. He respodned by calling one of the best games of the year. It was balanced (34 runs, 32 passes), creative (again, that amazing flea-flicker) and exposed the Cardinals' 23rd-ranked defense for the weak unit that it is.
- Darren Sharper - Oh where oh where had Mr. Sharper disappeared to in the last few weeks of the season? It seemed as if the Saints could no longer rely on him to come up with the big play like they used to. Then there he was today, recovering that Arizona fumble in the first quarter that threw all the momentum to the Saints.
- Saints Defensive Line - Will Smith had an interception, Bobby McCray knocked Kurt Warner out for part of the game and, despite registering just one sack, never let the Cardinals passers get comfortable. As for that first play, "you don't win or lose a game on the first play," Jonathan Vilma said.
- Gregg Williams - Because I could list almost every New Orleans' defensive players here, why not put the guy that put them in the position to win. His game plan did what the Packers' second-best pass defense couldn't do last week: contain the Cardinals' passing game. Though Cardinals passers combined for 266 yards, Arizona did not have a passing touchdown and had just two pass plays go over 20 yards. Oh, and after Hightower's 70 yard rushing touchdown to start the game, the Cardinals had just 31 rushing yards. That's very good.
- Marques Colston - Six catches for 83 yards, a touchdown and more than a few of them jaw-dropping. Eat up, Marques!
- Devery Henderson - Just four catches but they were for 80 yards and a touchdown. That's good enough for Gumbo.
- Tim Hightower - I bet he thought he was going to have a hell of a day after taking the first play of the game to the house. But as they say, it's not how you start the game, it's how you finished. He had just 17 rushing yards after that.
- Larry Fitzgerald - If only for the fact that every passing play seemed like a disaster waiting to happen with him on the field. Oh, and his dad cut in front of me in line at halftime in the media dining room. Not cool.
- Matt Leinart - Replaced the injured Warner at the end of the first and second halves and didn't completely fall apart. That was disappointing to see, really.
- Anyone Who Picked Against the Saints in this Game - You know who you are.
- Kurt Warner - Granted, he plays for the other team and, for a second there, it seemed like he was going to go pass-for-pass with Brees. But just being able to come back and play after that crushing hit by McCray earns this man a beer.
- Deuce McAllister - He led the team on the field and acted as honorary captain for the coin toss. It's a shame he had to do it all without getting to even put on pads.
- Brad Pitt - Hey! Look! He was on the sidlines! With a goatee! Can he be the mayor now?
- Post-Game Media - For spending so much time trying to figure out why Reggie Bush came out of the tunnel holding a baseball bat (If you want to know, Payton gave out a bunch of them with the words "Bring the Wood" on them to represent what the team's mentality should be for the game) even after Reggie Bush explained it. Twice. And they say journalism is dying.