Who would have thought of it… six games into the 2006 NFL season the New Orleans Saints are a 5-1 win/loss football team. What the Saints remind me of is football’s version of ‘Rocky.’ The original ‘Rocky’ movie was released in 1976 and it was all about a down-and-out boxer given a once in a lifetime shot at the world heavyweight championship in boxing.
For Rocky, the character played by Sylvester Stallone, it was all about self-respect and being given another opportunity to prove how good he really was.
When the Saints defeated the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon 27-24, the Saints beat one of the elite teams in pro football. The Eagles have posted a 69-31 regular season mark since the 2000 season, the best record in the NFC and they have been to four NFC championship games over the past five years.
They are an experienced football club, who has a quarterback in Donovan McNabb, who is playing the very best football of his seven year NFL career and a host of very talented veterans on defense.
But with all that said, the Saints beat the Eagles in every category you can name, offense, defense and special teams. Despite a lackluster third and early fourth quarter when the Eagles took a 24-17 lead, the Saints fought back to overtake a team who has the best winning percentage on the road in the NFL over the past five seasons.
No matter how many tough shots the Eagles gave the Saints, they picked themselves off the football mat to win the biggest game of the Sean Payton era.
The Saints won the battle of the line of scrimmage and controlled the tempo of the game. That is where the game was won by the Saints and lost by the Eagles. The Saints offensive line won the battle in the trenches and basically kept quarterback Drew Brees upright for most of the contest and Brees turned in a great performance.
Brees lit up the Eagles secondary hitting on 27 of his 37 passes for 275 yards and 3 touchdowns.
And for the first time this season, veteran All-Pro wide receiver Joe Horn showed up in a huge manner. Horn caught 6 passes for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 48-yarder.
It was vintage Joe Horn and the Eagles secondary seemed befuddled by Brees’ ability to quickly spray the ball around to Horn, Marques Colston, tight end Mark Campbell and Reggie Bush.
Also let’s not forget running back Deuce McAllister. Despite playing with a pulled hamstring McAllister continually hit gashing runs on the confused Eagle defensive front.
Yes, the Saints defense came apart a bit in the second half, but at critical times they got the Eagles’ offense off the field and put the ball back in Drew Brees’ hands.
Teams like the Eagles, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos get a host of respect across the league because they have played and won big games and meaningful games in November and December.
This win against the Eagles is early in the season, but this game has gained the New Orleans Saints the respect across the league they have fought for since the opening game.
The Saints won’t be considered in the same category as the above teams until they play in meaningful games in winter also, but this game was huge for Sean Payton and his football players.
It’s a week off for the “Who Dats” and it will be a long stretch before they play the Baltimore Ravens in the SuperDome on Oct. 29, but what a six-game stretch it has been for football’s version of Rocky.
The Saints 5-1 after six games, pinch me, I must be dreaming.
Avondale native to play in Vegas
University of Southern Mississippi offensive guard George Batiste, an Avondale native, who prepped at L.W. Higgins High School, has accepted an invitation to play in the Las Vegas All-American Classic on Jan. 15, 2007.
The 6-4, 310 pound 1st All-Conference USA lineman is considered one of the top offensive guard prospects for the 2007 NFL draft.