Saints Torch Cardinals’ Defense In Desert Shootout
Who needs defense when you can watch two offenses go up and down the field? Some people would disagree, but the Saints and Cardinals certainly put on a show.
New Orleans survived a shootout in the desert to collect a 48-41 win over Arizona, and Drew Brees lit up the top ranked defense in the NFL for 389 yards and four touchdowns. The Saints' defense did just enough to pick up with victory, providing a key fumble recovery late in the game to set up the final score of the game.
Brees collected his 105th career 300 yard passing game, but he didn't do the damage by himself. Brandin Cooks set a new career high with 186 receiving yards, torching the Cardinals defense for two long touchdowns in the first half.
"He took advantage of some real big throws and opportunities," Payton said. "Sometimes, you just don't know where those big plays are going to go."
Rookie Michael Thomas also put on a fine performance, hauling in his eight touchdown of the season by leaping over an Arizona defender in the endzone. His seven receptions on the game pushed him past Marques Colston, in terms of catches in a rookie season. The Saints first round draft pick now has 76 receptions on the year, as he continues to live up to the hype he built during the offseason in New Orleans.
The two biggest moments of the game on defense came on fumbles. The first takeaway occurred when Paul Kruger ripped the ball away from Larry Fitzgerald in the first quarter, and Nick Fairley and Vonn Bell combined to force another fumble in the fourth quarter to set up the touchdown that made the score 48-34 and put the game out of reach.
In reality, the defense was scarce all game. Both teams combined for only three punts on the game, and the offenses racked up 913 yards of total offense. The Saints accounted for 488 yards and the Cardinals collected 425 in the offensive onslaught, with Arizona's running back David Johnson registering his 14th straight game with 100+ yards of total offense, setting an NFL record to start the season.
The game definitely didn't last explosive plays and momentum shifts. The lead changed hands several times and there was even some drama when the game was already in hand.
Tim Hightower scored the final touchdown for New Orleans following the fumble recovery and a controversial roughing the passer penalty on third down that kept the Saints drive alive. Mark Ingram did a lot of dirty work in the game with 17 carries for 78 yards, but Hightower scored both touchdowns on the drive. After Hightower scored for the final time, the Fox cameras caught Ingram venting his frustration on the sideline.
The win helped the Saints prevent a losing season, keeping them at 6-8. Unfortunately, the Falcons won on Sunday, which effectively eliminated New Orleans from playoff contention. It put a serious damper on an impressive offensive performance, but many members of Who Dat Nation gave up hope of a postseason appearance before Week 15.
Defense was nowhere to be found in the desert, but the Saints still gave their fans a winning experience with the football season close to ending in New Orleans.