OK, show of hands everyone who thought the Saints, playing without the best player in the franchise’s history, could go into one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL and come away with a not-as-close-as-the-final-score-indicated victory.
Nope, me neither.
But there the Saints were Sunday, showing the type of grit and resiliency they’ll need to survive these next few weeks with Drew Brees on the shelf recovering from the torn thumb ligament suffered seven days ago.
Brees wasn’t at CenturyLink Field to watch the Saints’ 33-27 victory, but he surely would have given an injured thumbs-up for what he saw from his teammates.
The Saints silenced the Seattle crowd while also allowing a collective sigh of relief for their fans some 2,600 miles away back home in New Orleans.
The Saints’ season, even without No. 9, is a long way from being dead.
Teddy Bridgewater did his part running the offense with a whole lot of help from Alvin Kamara.
The way Kamara played, the folks in the stands wearing the lime green ponchos probably thought former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was wearing the Saints’ No. 41 jersey. Kamara was indeed in Beast Mode on this day, helping the Saints do something in September that rarely happens here.
The Seahawks had won 15 straight home games in September.
The Saints made sure that streak didn’t get to 16, thanks to an all-around effort.
This was one of Sean Payton’s best coaching jobs yet as he won his first game without No. 9.
Remember a few years ago when Brees and the offense had to do all the heavy lifting if they had any chance of winning?
That’s no longer the case.
Special teams did its part Sunday; Deonte Harris scored on a 53-yard punt return. And the defense did its, getting points on a 33-yard scoop and score from Vonn Bell. It was a collective effort that showed the Saints meant what they said all last week leading up to this one.
It is just what Kamara said had to happen earlier this week.
“Of course we miss Drew and his leadership, but this is where guys gotta step up,” Kamara said Wednesday. “A guy like me, a guy like Mike Thomas that have some pelts on the wall, a voice. We’ve gotta fill in for Drew.”
Answering the call, Kamara called it.
And the Saints did it, winning a game that many had penciled in as a loss.
“We’re going to do everything we can to win football games for that guy (Brees),” backup quarterback Taysom Hill said last week.
Now the Saints and their fans have reason to be optimistic heading into the rest of this Brees-less stretch of the season, with upcoming games against Dallas, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Chicago.
Kamara said the team grew closer this week, bonding more than normal with the team practicing all week in Seattle instead of flying back to New Orleans after the Rams’ game.
The Saints, holding a 1-game lead in the NFC South, get another undefeated team next week when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for a Sunday night showdown.
They will once again be without Brees. But what they won’t be missing is a ton of confidence after Sunday’s victory.
“The sky is the limit,” Kamara said. “I said it all week. If we are all on the same page, nobody can touch us.”