The 31-13 margin of victory in the New Orleans Saints win over the Atlanta Falcons doesn’t even begin to tell the story of one of the most important games in the 2006 NFL season.
Days after being demeaned as a “coach killer” by former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Mora - father of Atlanta Falcons head coach J.L. Mora - Falcons QB Mike Vick hit the field determined to put on a show.
But in the final analysis, it didn’t matter what Vick did. He was overshadowed by another quarterback - our very own Drew Brees.
It’s become quite clear that the main reason the Saints have sole possession of the NFL’s NFC South division is the consistent play of Brees.
This is no knock on Vick, Bruce Gradkowski and my old friend Jake Delhomme.
But let’s face it: Brees has established himself as one of the top four quarterbacks in the league along with Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts), Tom Brady (New England Patriots) and Carson Palmer (Cincinnati Bengals).
1,954 yards in the air in just five weeks - now THAT’S passing
For the fifth straight week Brees has passed for over 300 yards, bringing his total for the period to 1,954 yards in the air.
Against the Falcons, the big difference in play on offense for the Saints was that instead of turning the ball over, they held on to it, committing no turnovers and scoring points every time they got into the red-zone.
Playing against a Falcons team that had schemed and plotted to take away the Saints running game, Brees effectively picked apart the Falcons secondary for 349 yards and two touchdown passes, including a 76-yarder to Devery Henderson and a “Hail Mary” 48-yard pass to Terrance Copper to end the first half.
The Deuce McAllister-Reggie Bush running combination racked up 95 yards on 25 carries, but it was the stellar play of Brees that stole the show.
The Saints game plan on defense was simple: take away the running lanes from Baton Rouge-native Warrick Dunn. And that they did, holding the Falcon to 52 yards on 19 carries. That, of course, put all the weight of the Falcons’ offense on Vick.
Vick was phenomenal in the first half, rushing for an NFL record 127 yards. But his accuracy was off on some of his throws, and even when he was on target, his receivers simply couldn’t hold on to the football.
The speedy Vick rushed for 166 yards total against the Saints, almost doubling the paltry 84 passing yards he posted.
Vicks’ middle-finger ‘salute’ to fans who jeered him
Vicks’ frustration boiled over after the game when he gestured to Falcons’ fans they were indeed “No. 1 in his heart.” Well, sort of, because he was using the middle finger.
As Vick left the Georgia Dome, Falcons’ fans heckled the very athletic quarterback and he twice flipped fans with his middle finger.
For Vick and company, in Hot ‘lanta, the real No.1 team in the Georgia Dome was the New Orleans Saints.
LSU’s win over Arkansas - an instant classic
Make no mistake, folks, it was an instant college football classic when Louisiana State University defeated the 5th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks 31-26.
The huge win on the road put the Tigers in a position to cash in big from the BCS bowl-dollars jackpot and possibly land them in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2007 against the University of Michigan.
The win over Arkansas also put head coach Les Miles and quarterback JaMarcus Russell - the most-criticized individuals in some purple and gold quarters - in some elite company.
No other quarterback and head coach at LSU have ever had back to back 10-win plus seasons in Tigertown.
A win in a BCS bowl game would silence the critics about Miles and Russell - well, at least until next September.
Former Hahnville High School star athlete LaRon Landry finished the season with a team-leading 68 tackles for the Tigers.
Landry, a sure-to-be first team All-SEC award winner and probable first team All-American free safety, will go down as one of the best defenders to ever don the purple and gold.
The knockout run-defender has led the Tigers in tackles three of his four seasons in Baton Rouge.
Next stop for Landry ... the first round of the 2007 NFL draft.