You can slow down the Saints offense for one half in the Superdome, but it’s not going to happen for 60 minutes. Not this season.
Only the Saints could stop the Saints offense. They didn’t punt a single time for the first time in franchise history. They scored on every possession except two lost fumbles in the first half and when they kneeled down at the end of the game inside Detroit’s five-yard line.
The Saints are playing video game football. They gained 626 yards, most in NFL playoff history. Drew Brees threw for 466 yards, second most in league playoff history. He could have thrown for even more if his receivers didn’t drop a few passes.
The final score makes this look like a laugher, but it was anything but. It was a three point game with ten minutes to go. Calvin Johnson finished with 211 ridiculous yards and two touchdowns, but he didn’t get enough help from his defense. Detroit’s vaunted front four was quiet again. In the end, the Lions were just another pass-first team with no defense.
The Saints running game kept New Orleans on track through some rough patches. Pierre Thomas (121 total yards) couldn’t stop breaking tackles, the Lions couldn’t touch Darren Sproles, and Chris Ivory picked up some key short yardage conversions.
Saints coach Sean Payton called a very aggressive game, converting three key fourth downs, including one in Saints territory.
When the Saints are on, they play with a huge margin for error. They can afford two turnovers. They can afford some drops. When Matthew Stafford threw his first interception midway through the fourth quarter, we knew the game was over.
Opponents playing in the Superdome this year had no margin for error. New Orleans will likely have to win two road games to make the Super Bowl, so they should finish with a 9-0 home record. Five of those wins came against teams that made the playoffs.
The offense hasn’t been nearly as explosive on the road and now the Saints face the best defense in the NFC next week in San Francisco.
It’s a terrific matchup of contrasts. The 49ers play a well-coached brand of old school football. That style of play barely resembles the same sport the Saints were playing on Saturday night.