Sunday night wrap-up: Saints have their moment

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For a night, the Saints got to enjoy themselves.

Drew Brees got the NFL’s consecutive games with a touchdown pass record with his 48th in a row, beating his old team the Chargers 31-24 in the process.

They got the goose-egg off their record, improving to 1-4, a half-game out of second in the NFC South.

But this is a temporary reprieve, at best.

The Chargers have shown signs of being a good team, but were swept up in the moment Sunday. (Watch highlights here.)

But until the Saints run the ball with any degree of consistency, or until they play better defense, they won’t get much better.

This Saints defense doesn’t have nearly the talent coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had at his disposal when he built a reputation with the New York Giants. That’s a given. But they just don’t fit what he wants to run. There’s little evidence they can consistently rush the passer with any of their linemen, and there’s not an impact player in the back seven either (despite Roman Harper running under a gift-wrapped one in the fourth quarter). They have some solid parts, but until they add some personnel, this defense is going to struggle regardless who’s coaching.

Gregg Williams could trick it up and blitz and try to cover up the shortcomings, and it worked for a bit. But it wasn’t going to beat the clock, as Spagnuolo is finding out.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Maybe not being the champions of March, April and June will help the Chargers come January.

This offseason has been different for San Diego, without the weight of Super Bowl expectations that have been standard as they’ve underperformed for years.

Many thought the Chargers were lost at sea when Vincent Jackson was allowed to leave in free agency. But by replacing him with cheaper players such as Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem, the Chargers may have made themselves harder to defend in the long run.

Even the dog-housing of running back Ryan Mathews has an ulterior motive. When you put a guy you traded up in the draft to acquire in the first round on the bench, there’s a message of accountability.

And while it might be temporary, the 3-2 Chargers appear more willing to work for the praise that was given so freely before it was earned.

2. Of course, the Chargers need to get some people well, specifically left tackle Jared Gaither.

He battled back problems all summer, and gave up game-deciding pressure late in the game. Whether that flared up or he was just beaten, it was clear in the final moments of the game he wasn’t right, and it cost them a chance to tie.

3. It’s hard to call a guy with a five-year, $36.3 million contract underrated.

But you know what, Saints wide receiver Marques Colston is kind of underrated.

It’s almost amazing that he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl yet, and if not for some injuries he probably would have.

Brees’ second touchdown, the non-record breaking one, was Colston’s 50th with the Saints, tying Joe Horn for most in Saints history.

Colston made that record his own in the third quarter, and finished with nine catches for 131 yards and three touchdowns.

4. Chargers rookie linebacker Melvin Ingram was flagged for roughing the passer in the third quarter, taking a pick six off the board and allowing the Saints to get within a field goal, a 14-point swing that changed the course of the game.

As roughing calls go, it was a little thin, but it’s the kind of thing that gets called these days.

But he’s one of a few good young parts on that Chargers defense (along with defensive end Corey Liuget) that will keep them solid for years to come.

5. Drew Brees broke the record.

But you know what? The Chargers still made the right call going with Philip Rivers. For all the numbers Brees has posted, the Chargers quarterback has more regular season wins since Brees was allowed to leave, and mostly similar passing numbers.

What Rivers hasn’t had is Sean Payton. Norv Turner is a good play-caller, but Payton’s proving in his absence how good he is at his job.

If there was a debate, let’s end it. Young and promising is better than not-as-young and hurt, which is what Brees was when the decision was made.

73 responses to “Sunday night wrap-up: Saints have their moment

  1. Game meant much more to the Saints than the Chargers. Saints were desperate and at home while the Chargers have a huge game next week that means a lot more to them against Denver.

  2. The Brees record should have an asterisk.

    *One TD pass came with 10 seconds left in a game where the Saints were trailing by 18 to the Rams.

    Don’t think Johnny U was burning his timeouts losing by 3 scores just so he could keep the streak alive.

  3. Pick six called back, phantom offensive PI on Gates, offensive PI uncalled on Colston’s first TD (2nd game he’s done that), plus other drive killing penalties against the chargers??

    At first I was mad but then I remembered they were playing at the superdome…of course the saints would be getting all the calls. No surprise there. Chargers were robbed.

  4. That last drive was a joke. One thing I hate about the regular officials is how you have to hold your breath before celebrating waiting for the pathetic ticky tack flag.

    It’s the last drive of the game, LET THEM PLAY!

    Let it be about the great play on the field, not about making yourselves the story!

    Say what you want about the replacement officials, they let the guys play. I miss that.

  5. After this game I went out and bought a San Diego Super Charger Super Bowl Express calculator, and ran the numbers. I think humb0lt is wrong. The Pats can’t be 2-4 after next week, the Broncos could be, but it turns out there is no way the Chargers will take control of the division at 5-1. It looks like humb0lt is going to have to go underground earlier than usual this season. See you next time San Diego wins, you front-running fool.

  6. Brees is a good QB, but Payton makes him what he is. Some guys like Rodgers, Brady, Rivers etc are helped by their playcallers/OCs /coaches but aren’t mostly a product of them. Elite HC>>>>any one player. I have nothing against the Saints as a whole but I don’t hate the fact they are struggling w/o their HC because it supports my viewpoint on coaching.

    I also think if Payton coached the Chargers, THEY would have had a SB or two. But that could be because he would have had a hit put out on AJ by now. LOL AJ is like Jerry, doesn’t really want a strong willed HC who won’t meekly accept everything he does.

  7. The officiating in that game made the Green Bay/Seattle game look fair and correct.

    That was a travesty. Roman Harper mugged the WR on that INT. The refs were helping the Saints win that game. It’s insane. I can’t believe what we just saw.

  8. Unitas had the record with WAY fewer attempts and completions. Not impressed. More 40 yard TD passes in an era where you n ever saw it. That’s just like saying a guy like Reggie Miller hit a 3 pointer in every game of an 82 game season. If you have enough attempts, you OUGHT to.

  9. I did not care who won, but refs were absolutely terrible. Im sure the media will not cover it
    like they did earlier this year.

    offensive pass int call was a joke.

  10. Wow… The Saints aren’t that good this year. They do one good thing, played solid offense, made big plays on defense when they had to, Brees breaks an honored record and everybody want to take it away, minimize it, etc. Brees is a real NFL QB, playing real NFL games and broke a real NFL record. Bogus calls have gone against the Saints before. These calls weren’t bogus, but they were judgement calls.

    Its sad you people are trying to tear down a 1-4 team.

  11. For all you Charger fans whining about the refs, yeah, I agree. You got jobbed – the Gates offensive PI being the worst.

    In the end, though, Cris Collinsworth told us all how that game was going to end. It’s a shame one of your coaches in the booth didn’t see what CC saw.

  12. hutch119 is right on! The “regular refs” are making so many bad calls then no calls its pathtic! Lat week Jets run into 49ers trying to return a punt no flag, during Steeler-Eagle game a pass int was called and even Aikman said there was no foul and there was at least 3 pass interferance not called rest of game! Then in the Sunday night game no pass interferance called then Chargers driving bogus pass int called and Collingsworth even said it was a bad call! Your network or the bogus ESPN needs to start looking at these calls and call out the refs!

  13. I didn’t have a horse in the race, but that game rivaled WWE for manufacturing an outcome.

    Goddell has succeeded in taking my favorite game from me.

  14. Thisdj84 is a loosah… with dignity…lose the same way…but, you can’t…so, you’re a loosah…

  15. And, the blogger of this article is a jealous saints hater….he, too, is a loosah…saints finish the season 12-4 and win it all…fact…

  16. Hey Chargers, join the crowd. Chiefs were robbed by mystery quick whistle on a sack fumble that would’ve put the Chiefs up 10-9.

  17. Completely horrid job by officials. Chargers should have been up 31-14 in 4th if phantom roughing the passer call wasn’t made. Horrid job on offensive pi call. Couple bad calls against saints too but bad calls cost chargers the game.

  18. typical Rivers, complaining to the refs while he should have been focusing on the clock and scoring. Let’s be real, if SD had kept Brees they would have a ring by now.

    and the knit picky calls went both ways all night. Chargers got lucky that they went from 2nd and 37 to 1st and 5 on that last drive, but we dont hear about that. The loss was on the secondary, Norv and Phil.

  19. It’s easy to say that other qbs are not nearly a product of their head coaches compared to brees when the other quarterbacks have never put into this situation. Despite having his great offensive coach, brees is still putting up 350+ yard games with 3+ touchdowns. Brees is as deserving of being called an elite QB as Rodgers, Brady, Peyton etc. Additionally, Brees has never had a dominant defense to aid him in games.

  20. Is there any game that should show aj that we need an offensive line more than this? A horrible pass rush gets to rivers pretty regularly

  21. Norv totally mismanaged the game, they should of ran the ball, obviously they couldnt stop mathews, why not pound em, run the clock out, kick fgs, you had the lead in late 3rd, Chargers are average

  22. “For all the numbers Brees has posted, the Chargers quarterback has more regular season wins since Brees was allowed “to leave, and mostly similar passing numbers.”

    The one number that counts is Super Bowl wins. Brees- 1, Rivers- 0. Scoreboard.

  23. Lots of hatred for Saints 1st win…it’s not your team, so what is up with the whining and complaining about the refs..refs did a great job calling the game..fairly called down the middle..refs aren’t perfect, but Saints deserve to win…it’s in the record books, Saints win 31-24 moving ahead into bye week.

  24. seahawksbmx says:
    Oct 7, 2012 11:59 PM
    For all you Charger fans whining about the refs, yeah, I agree. You got jobbed – the Gates offensive PI being the worst.

    In the end, though, Cris Collinsworth told us all how that game was going to end. It’s a shame one of your coaches in the booth didn’t see what CC saw.


    You say SD fans are “whining”, but then you agree that the calls were terrible? Make some sense.

    Also, LOL at a Seahawks fan being the impartial arbiter of referee decisionmaking.

  25. “But you know what? The Chargers still made the right call going with Philip Rivers. For all the numbers Brees has posted, the Chargers quarterback has more regular season wins since Brees was allowed to leave, and mostly similar passing numbers.”

    Superbowl Rings: Rivers 0, Brees 1
    NFL Records: Rivers: 1, Brees: 70.

    Sure, at the time, maybe the Chargers made a reasonable decision. Since then…well, Brees has destroyed almost every other quarterback in the NFL. Not even Brady and Peyton have kept up with him.

    I went to wikipedia and counted the number of records that Phil Rivers has, and then counted those that Drew Brees has.

  26. As a Charger Fan, I am still very happy for Brees and will always give a nudge of support for the Saints ( minus the BountyGate garbage but that will pass ).

    For Norv, you cannot fault him on the Personal Foul on Ingram ( in slow mo it did not resemble a helmet to helmet hit … none the less it was a helmet strike on the chest ); that play was a 14 point GAME CHANGE.

    For Norv again, a coach has plenty of time to get his team in position to overcome it and the Chargers went flat after that. In the last series it was hard to watch and comical with those nitpick penalties; but it is what it is, a loss.

    For Norv, i remember him saying that with his other head coaching gigs, he is use to being on the wire of getting fired. If he really wants to stay employed, he needs to be able to have his team ready to battle strong teams, so far 0-2 against strong teams ( yea, i called the Saints strong, they overcame adversity ).

    B. Quinn – “Now I’m Done!”

  27. “If there was a debate, let’s end it. Young and promising is better than not-as-young and hurt, which is what Brees was when the decision was made.”

    This comment will probably be deleted (like all of my other ones, for whatever reason), but this part of your article makes little sense. If you were building a team right now, and could pick either Rivers or Brees to be your QB, who would you pick? I think Rivers has talent, but clearly it’s Brees.

    Is hindsight 20-20? Sure. But, objectively, the Chargers made the wrong decision by letting the better QB get away, because they thought he wouldn’t be able to play the same again. They were wrong.

    “What Rivers hasn’t had is Sean Payton. Norv Turner is a good play-caller, but Payton’s proving in his absence how good he is at his job.”

    Sean Payton hasn’t been around this year, but Drew Brees is still pretty good.

  28. I am not a Chargers fan at all, lifelong Cowboy fan. It still PO’d me severely to see the refs give the Saints that game. Pick six called back over nothing really. That last drive was a disgrace. At 44, I dont know how much more of this NFL I want to watch. Seriously. It sucks. I think a lot more people are enjoying their Sundays a lot less. Tonight was a terrible ending for what had been a great football game.

  29. Saints fans will stand by their team and cheer them loudly whether they go 0-16, 16-0 or anything in between.

    There are a certain number among you who wish to tear us down. I say, give it your best shot. At the end of the day, we’ll still be standing, proud of who we are, proud of our home, and proud of the team and men who represent our home.

    You can’t take it away, no matter how hard you try.

  30. As most any NFL fan will tell you, sometimes you have to be able to beat the stripes too. That’s just the nature of the beast. The Chargers couldn’t get it done tonight.

    The PI on Gates was a joke, but still, Gaither was just flat out lazy on those final two plays.

  31. Anyone notice the Saints’ punt in the 2nd (I think, might have been 1st) quarter that landed five yards out of bounds at the Charger’s own 36 yard line? The ball ended up being spotted at the Chargers 35 yard line. How? Should have been spotted at the 40, at least.

    Also, Battle’s run down to the 1 yard line was spotted at the 2, when it was clear as day he made it to the 1. 2nd and goal from the 1 is a totally different situation than 2nd and goal at the 2.

    Ridiculous call on Gates. Ridiculous call on Hardwick. Two ridiculous non-calls on pass interference versus Floyd.

    That was pathetic. It was clear from the start the refs were calling it for the Saints. I can’t believe what I just saw.

  32. While the ref’s made some horrible calls, the game loss sits on Norv Turnover’s shoulders alone. A 55 yard field goal attempt? Even Rivers was telling him to punt the ball. And with a back up kicker! Could he also not see his Right Tackle was hurt on the final series? I could see it and so could the announcers. He seemed way too content to sit on a three point lead. Against the Saints? Maybe coast when you are twenty points up, and barely then. Thanks Norv. Another season of average football with some very talented players.

  33. The stats clearly show the refs favored Saints:

    -Chargers had 7 penalties for 56 yards

    -Saints had 10 penalties for 99 yards

    Oh wait…stats don’t support that statement!

  34. The refs game the game to the Saints. I couldn’t believe their blatant bias.

    And I hate Norv and his Chargers.

    By the way, the fact that Colston has suffered far more than his share of injuries is precisely why he is not rated so highly as you think he should be. Durability is just as important as good hands & route running.

  35. paulitik74 says: Oct 7, 2012 11:53 PM

    The officiating in that game made the Green Bay/Seattle game look fair and correct.

    That was a travesty.
    No, what is a travesty is that the NFL Commissioner treats the suspended Saints coach like he is some Guantanamo Bay Terrorist. I hope Roger Dodger is comfy in that same hermetically sealed booth for this year’s Super Bowl. It may be the only place in town he will have a moment’s peace or a decent meal that whole week.

  36. It didn’t look good for a long stretch of the game, but Norval dug down deep and snatched the loss from the jaws of victory.

    Nobody does it better. 🙂

  37. Amazing that the same brain dead morons that complained about the roughing the passer call on Brees when the defender lowered his head and hit him with the crown of his helmet, are strangely quiet about Will Smith being flagged for violating the Brady Rule!!

    The Chargers held the entire game and were rarely called for it!!

  38. I am not a fan of either team, but in all my years of watching football, that is the 1st time I felt the game was rigged. The NFL wanted Brees to win the night he broke the record. To the guy that pointed out the Saints had more penalty yards, the Chargers were given drive killing penalties. They have to make it look close.

  39. hutch119 says:
    Oct 7, 2012 11:43 PM
    Can we get the replacements back, or maybe some articles pointing out how incredibly bad the “real refs” are.


    Not going to happen. The media is not fair and objective. They got their headlines with the replacement refs (ie. people they knew weren’t going to be around long term so they could bully them). They won’t out the regular refs after spending all that time trumpeting how much better they are, it would make the talking heads look bad. It’s easier to sweep it under the rug.

  40. Is Norv going to stop playing games with his RBs? He seem’s so hellbent on showing Mathews who is boss that winning games seems secondary.

    Is Jackie Battle still atop the depth chart?

  41. Of the top 5 QBs last year–Rodgers, Brees, Brady, Stafford, and Eli–two of the their teams have winning records and three have losing records. Coincidence?

  42. Refs were a joke all sunday. Its amazing what the media can ignore and get away with. These guys are worse then the replacements. Just more confident making horrible calls. Brees record means nothing. No passing record means anything. The rules were changed…time for a new record book. Thanks for ruining my favorite sport Goodell. Now lets see how Betman is doing with hockey.

  43. D-bax these days get called for pass interference if they even look cross-eyed at the receiver, and that cheapens the record. When Johnny U set it that was not the case.

    Nevertheless a record is a record. Sorry to see it go.

  44. I don’t think that there is much separating Brees and Rivers and never was. The Chargers couldn’t go wrong either way and the contracts really dictated that it would be Rivers. Had Brees stepped up his game earlier in his career, there would have been no need to draft Rivers.

    I like the way Saints fans are so quick to dismiss the lying and illegal bounty program. If nothing else, both are disgusting.

  45. jonny42671 says Dree Brees is a liar and a cheat and a poor role model…

    and the writer of this article says that the Chargers made the right call keeping Rivers over Brees…

    These two people must either be related or taking the same drugs. Brees is a bigger role model than 99% of the NFL, and count how many playoff games the Chargers won with Rivers compared to the Saints with Brees….they can have Rivers

  46. As soon as some of you realize the NFL has adopted the NBA version of “keep the audience” as long as possible, you’ll keep complaining about the selective officiating.

    Just take a look…who needed a win more last night to stay relevant? If you said the Saints, you’d be following along nicely….hence the late ticky tack offensive penalties thwarting a late comeback. Those calls were just plain laughable.

    Case No. 2….either the Colts have some of the best OL players as both starters or backups or it’s impossible to get a holding penalty called in the dome. Green Bay brought player after player all game and drew a grand total of ZERO holding penalties. Let’s see, what better way to get Luck come pub and the Pagano story as feel good? How about swallowing the whistle all game long and jamming Green Bay yet again? Check.

    The NFL and NBA are exactly the same. Embarrassingly concerned about one thing only. Cash.

  47. rivers is a better person than brees, and sd did make the right call, because brees was injured, and 29 other teams didn’t even bother risking a contract offer on him when he hit free agency….

    that said, it doesn’t matter because it’s san diego

    if we would have kept brees and sent rivers packing, rivers would have multiple sbs somewhere, while brees would have probably already been out of the nfl with a torn labrum that never healed correctly

    and if we’d somehow kept eli instead of drafting rivers, same thing, rivers would have multiple sbs and eli would have been ryan leaf part II

    because in san diego, people don’t win……

    gwynn, tomlinson, fouts, seau…… just don’t ultimately win in san diego

    it’s a shame.

  48. Back when Unitas was playing, they played 14 games. They played outdoors. They played to win games, not pad stats. Game was more run oriented then. Good for Brees. Give him a medal or something.

  49. The refs decided the game….. plain-n-simple! It’s a shame. (no I’m not an S.D. fan) All in the last 20 mins of the game:

    1. The bogus roughing the passer call, that robbed S.D. of a 30 yard td pick [game would’ve been sealed S.D. 31- N.O. 14 right there] Which w/ the 15 yds, N.O. turned the momentum into a t.d.

    2. The no-call on the obvious pass-interference on Gates, would’ve turned 3rd down into 1st, when S.D. had possesson on N.O. field.

    2. The cheap OPI call on Gates that sliced away 28 yd gain, minus 10 yds making it 2nd & 27

    3. The frivolous hold on the Chargers negating another 22 yd. play and 1st down, instead making it 3&37.

    I don’t wanna hear anything about a meager 5 yd. call on N.O.’s D somehow balanced this debacle out, when in that possession S.D. lost 27 yds to the Saints mere 5. Could’ve easily been called PI on the Saints instead – area where the flag was thrown (about a 35 yd penalty), but was not.

    The officials robbed San Diego of a win, which will get swept under the rug soon enough.

  50. Amazing how much more accepting of poor calls the announcers are with the “real” refs back. The Gates offensive PI and the phantom holding call on the Chargers’ center on the very next play got a couple negative comments but they’d have been going NUTS about it had it been the replacements.

  51. It appers the reg refs are no better than the rep;acement ref. Thet were terrible in the steeler-eagle game. But I didn’t hear the announcers talking about the mistakes.

  52. Funny how most of the “refs sucked” comments came from non charger fans. Then saints Dan’s say we’re whining, look at their names. Its football fans sitting watching a game that looked like it was called completely one sided on big plays. It was painfully obvious.

    And Brees was good IN SAN DIEGO but Rivers was gar and away better. It wasn’t until Brees got to the Saints and that system until he became the player he is. If he was a 4000 yards/yr qb do you think ANY GM would just let him walk? No. He was a solid qb that struggled against the pass rush and folded under pressure. And I’m sure if he were to come back to the chargers system he would have the same struggles. Rivers never had that problem and looks better AS A CHARGER than Drew Breeds ever did. What I’m holding my breath for is for SD to commit to protection the same wah the Saints have with Brees. That’s when you’ll see the real Rivers come alive.

    I’m sick of all this River’s vs Brees talk. There is no comparison. Brees has had a better career. Both are pro bowl qbs. I’m still a huge Brees fan, it’s just sad to hear “Brees is better” because he’s in a perfect system for him. Funny how people say he hot better after an injury but completely discount him changing teams. The saints was perfect for him and things just didn’t work out in SD. Watching him his entire career if someone were to ask me if I would want Brees back today over rivers I would absolute say no.

  53. All you Saints hater’s can “kiss my grits!”

    Get over it – Saints won, Chargers lost.

    Sure the refs make bad calls, happens every time there is a football game and to every team–they are only human, if you expect perfection then you’re barking up the wrong tree.

    The refs also made questionable calls that were in favor of the Chargers too.

    Oh, and for those that say the game was fixed because it was in the Superdome–didn’t they lose a game in the Superdome this year? Guess that game wasn’t fixed, huh? You guys are just desperate to find something to cling to so that to you, the win doesn’t count–well to the NFL – IT DOES!

    And the roughing the passer call–I saw it and didn’t see it as bogus at all–get over it, game is over.

  54. Frist of all I think the personal foul call was correct but the PI call was questionable. Now, these announcers are killing me. The saints defense wasn’t world beaters last year anyway. And, despite that they won thriteen games. So, it’s not big secret that It’s all on Drew’s shoulder.

  55. There’s one other thing that troubled me. Let’s say the charger fans are right. And, the PI call wasn’t correct. I can see the fans being upset and not moving past it. But, what shocked and troubled me is the fact that the chargers coaching staff was so upset by the call that no one noticed the Tackle could barely walk. As the head coach you can’t afford the emotions that fans and yes even players display. You have to stay in the moment. And, Norve Turner didn’t do that. Also, I would remind charger fans that thier defense still allowed the saints to march down the field and score of the personal foul call. I know the chargers fans are upset. And, to be honest me being a saints fan, I would be upset if I were in their place as well. But, the refs weren’t the only reason the chargers lost the game.

  56. If you guys question the integrity of the game last night, or any other game for that matter, thank Rodger Goodell. His actions & his actions alone have deminished the integrity of the game. In cases where something is legit, you question it’s authenticity & in cases where something is not authentic, you question it’s legitimacy. The worst part is instead of everyone banding together & demanding consistency, transparency & integrity from Goodell, you allow him to keep deminishing the league. When the fans truly united over the replacement refs, immediate corrective action was taken. Ever think if we all band together again we could get a commissioner who actually cares about the game, the players & the fans?

  57. ksmack

    You say SD fans are “whining”, but then you agree that the calls were terrible? Make some sense.
    The fact that (1) you’d miss the obvious sarcasm and (2) you’d attack someone offering support leads me to believe you’re not that bright.

    And yes, a Seahawk fan knows plenty about bad calls. You can focus on the one time we benefitted, but it’s the 50 or so times we got hosed that give us credentials that you hope you never have.

  58. pastabelly says: Oct 8, 2012 8:12 AM

    I like the way Saints fans are so quick to dismiss the lying and illegal bounty program. If nothing else, both are disgusting.
    Here’s a news flash – if you have no bounty program, and the Commissioner has no credible evidence that you have a bounty program, and you tell the Commissioner you have no bounty program, it ain’t lyin’.

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