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THE GRAHAM SLAM

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DATELINE: New Orleans, La (Saints pick up their most complete win in years)

The role reversals were striking in this one.

Sure you had Jimmy Graham being transformed from a Saints Red Zone Hero into a Seahawks Zero but that was just a supporting stat on a day where the Saints provided quite the reversal of fortunes in all three phases of its game.

This team in its first six weeks had given us a Saints' sample size of undisciplined play coupled with a porous defense who was often as reliable as a clean political ad these days.

Talk about flipping the script---these Saints did everything to rid themselves of their previous ills--impressive considering they were facing one of the league's best teams in Seattle who brought one of the top defenses in the NFL to the Dome.

Everything seemed to be the opposite of weeks past, even at the beginning where for the first time in five weeks, the black and gold didn't begin the game with a scoring drive---but they would more make up for it.

After punting on their first two drives and seeing Mark Ingram fumble for the second straight week--this leading to a Seattle touchdown--who would have thought punter Thomas Morstead would sit on the sidelines along with the benched Ingram watching the Saints precede to score on five straight possessions against the best red zone defense in the NFL.

"They're a tough defense, they had only allowed ten trips in the red zone (entering the game) we had five," Brees told me afterwards. "In a game like this the points are important."

Yes against other opponents and in maybe other years, Brees and Payton would lament on not scoring more touchdowns but in this one they were happy to cash to take whatever points they could muster.

The aforementioned Mark Ingram's costly fumble for the second straight week put the Saints in the whole early but this gritty bunch didn't crumble instead they  jumped off the canvas with striking resiliency---in all three phases.

The Saints defense amazingly only allowed a single touchdown and unlike past weeks (see the opening game against the Raiders) didn't buckle in the end.

The Saints offense controlled the tempo resting it's defense by dominating the time of possession where they had the ball for over twelve minutes longer than the visiting Hawks.

Incredible stat.

The Saints special teamers were perfect as rookie Will Lutz was four for four including a 53 yarder and an an impressive 41 yarder late, one he had to kick twice after a false start penality moved him back five yards.

Yes this was a balanced effort to the core where on offense the Saints even threw the ball 35 times and ran it yeah...35 times.

"We knew what type of game this was gonna be, we knew it would be physical and it would be tough," Brees said. "We knew we were gonna have to be very patient and methodical."

Patient, Methodical and you can throw in disciplined--New Orleans only had two penalties for 10 yards-- a far cry from previous weeks.

An impressive turnaround for a young Saints squad who after starting the year 0-3 now has a chance this weekend in San Francisco to get back to 4-4.

"You've got a little wisdom now, you've got a little experience that came from a victory like this," Brees said.

WHO DAT HITS

HIGHTOWER SEIZES THE DAY: Sean Payton gave Mark Ingram a vote of confidence afterwards but who wouldn't be happy for veteran backup Tim Hightower who stepped up in a big way becoming the first Saints back to bring home a 100 yard rushing game this season.

Maybe no player in NFL history has been more patient than the Saints back who sat out the game nearly four years due to multiple knee injuries only to make the team the past two years and buy his time for a chance to shine---shine he did on Sunday.

SUPER STUPAR: The Saints have made some bad moves with their salary cap and in the draft in recent years but you have to give them credit for their moves at bringing in solid veteran linebackers this offseason. Craig Robertson often leads this team in tackles and then you tack on the recent play of veteran Nate Stupar who made a huge second quarter interception which led to a Brees touchdown score.

CAN'T GUARD MIKE: Another week, another leap for rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas who just continues to get better. After a career game in Kansas City, Thomas leads the Saints in receiving yards by averaging 1.5 yards per grab. The rook catches everything and Brees likes him because he wants to be great.

NOBODY ASKED ME, BUT.... I always liked covering Jimmy Graham in New Orleans and can't remember him ever turning me down for an interview. In fact on many occasions he would wait and give me a one on one after a game, win or lose.

So it was a shame to see him behave the way he did on Sunday--not only march off the field and not shake hands with any of his former coaches or teammates but it carried over to the locker room where he shunned the media too.

Our own Eric Richey who covers the visiting locker room for CST each game--followed Graham out of the locker room and asked him a handful of questions and Jimmy wouldn't even look at Eric and just kept his headphones.

No "no comment" nothing, zip, nada.

I expect this kind of behavior from Cam Newton, not from a former Saint, I thought was better than that....

UNTIL NEXT BLOG,
Mike Nabors
CST
@mikenabors

Mike Nabors's photo

By: Mike Nabors

An Emmy award winning sports reporter who covers a wide variety of events for CST. Primarily, Mike serves as the network's reporter for Saints coverage.

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