There was no doubt it was a "must" win for the New Orleans Saints. A 1-5 start would all but eliminate them from any talk of making a run to get to the .500 mark in 2012 and it took every ounce of football strength for the team to pull out a 35-28 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In watching the game, one thing was clear. The best football player out on the field, Drew Brees, outplayed Buccaneer quarterback Josh Freeman and again showed why he is considered one of the elite players in the NFL.
With both teams struggling to get some football traction under them it was Brees who riddled the Buccaneer secondary, completing 27 of his 37 passes for 377 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception.
The Saints didnít get a lot of yardage rushing the football (26 times for just 81 yards), but it kept the Buccaneers defense honest throughout the game.
But again it was Brees who continued to work his football magic despite the many distractions of the offseason.
Without All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, it was Lance Moore who stepped up and caught 9 passes for 121 yards. Marques Colston also caught 7 passes for 73 yards and one touchdown.
Over the past three games, Colston has caught 25 catches for 357 yards and five scores.
In one of the best and most athletic catches ever by a New Orleans Saint, wide receiver Joe Morgan hauled down an acrobatic 48-yard scoring play to put on the all-time Saints highlight reel. However, his catch was topped shortly after by the rundown of Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson by safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jackson raced 95 yards with a pass reception from Freeman, but Jenkins brought him down at the one-yard line.
The Saints defense then put up one of the best goal line stands you will ever see and it thwarted a scoring opportunity that later would cost the Buccaneers a chance to put this game into overtime.
The rundown by Jenkins was widely praised as a game changer.
Now it is off to Denver to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Sunday Night Football.
It will be a duel of two of the greatest quarterbacks in the game, and like this past Sunday, expect another shootout and both defenses pressed to the wall in stopping the opposing passer.
This isnít your grandpaís NFL anymore. Itís all about scoring points and putting up gaudy statistics via the air.
The Saints are very lucky because they have someone special in Drew Brees to lead the way and many will never see another quarterback as talented wearing the black and gold.