Nine months ago, New Orleans experienced its second Katrina in terms of devastation. Their Saints lost a game of football. Not just any game. The NFC Championship game, the contest which decides who represents the conference at the Super Bowl--the biggest event in American Sports! Oh my god, they missed out on a chance to get whupped by a middle-aged white dude and some younger white dudes catching balls from the middle aged white dude.
BUT, New Orleans lost. They didn't merely lose, either. They "lost" due to a botched pass interference call. Yeah, the call was bad, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the Saints' defense against the Vikings a year prior. (You know, where New Orleans let Stefon Diggs stampede into the end zone unguarded while the clock expired on their season). This time around, Saints fans rioted in force, scaring the NFL enough to spark a rule change--you can now challenge pass interference calls!
The haunt of a laughably screwed up final play against Minnesota and a season ended via referee malpractice lingers. New Orleans is the bad juju epicenter. Can they avoid it? NO. Not until they avenge their postseason woes with a Super Bowl appearance. I'm sorry, as smilin' Captain Jack Ross once said, "these are the facts and they are indisputable."
Well, they took a step forward last night, triumphing over the Houston Texans at home on a last-second field goal by Will Lutz. Monday Night Football's debut contest did not disappoint.
Coming out of the tunnel for the second half, four people mattered. The four best players on the field: Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara. That's it. That is the entire list of guys who really mattered last night.
Close game. Gameplans shrink, rotations shrink, stars assert themselves, complimentary pieces fade, coaches flash their DNA during tough decisions (I thought I had testicular fortitude but a punt from the 35-yard-line down eight with a minute left suuuuure seems tempting). Desperation reveals true character. Both teams were desperate for an opening weekend victory.
SO, we learned who these teams are in crunch time.
New Orleans isn't taking deep shots. This isn't passing yards record breaker Drew Brees. This is a calculated, calm, analytical Drew Brees and he's entered the denouement of his career--the last push for a championship before his swan song. This version of Drew defers to his playmakers. Cheifly, Alvin Kamara, my favorite player in the NFL.
Once they got down 14-3 as the first half expired, Kamara was unleashed. The gold-toothed Swiss army knife running back punched dive runs for five/six yards, eluded tacklers on the outside, caught passes from seemingly every receiver position. Kamara is the most dynamic offensive playmaker in the NFL. Taysom Hill is viewed as the wild card in the Saints' offense when Kamara is the true joker. No. 41 thrives omni-situationally.
There's a scene in Rocky when Mick screams "The body! The body! The body! Take 'em to the body!" Means Rocky should disrupt Apollo Creed's eight-pack abs with a few bolts of Italian lighting. New Orleans deployed the same gameplay last night. "Kamara! Kamara! Kamara! FEEEEEED HIM!" They did, like a turkey in late October. 169 total yards. How about a 169 pound turkey? Both are tremendous. That's like a two-hundred dollar turkey. And Alvin was probably worth two-hundred in Fantasy auctions.
Let's switch gears to Houston, who also looked great on offense. (Both defenses struggled but I'm not gonna discuss it because who gives a rip about linebackers missing tackles and safeties hitting the wrong gaps? Do you see my point?).
Watson...is a SUPERSTAR. He was the best player in college football for three years (sorry, LAMAR, what did you ever win?) and won Clemson's first National Championship since Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" was the number one song in America.
Watson carries himself like a bonafide star, commands the huddle like he's still wearing orange and picking Alabama apart, and still saves his most impressive plays for the end of the game. In the second half, he and fellow Clemson great DeAndre Hopkins connected habitually.
The All-Pro wideout and Watson couldn't do enough, unfortunately, as their team fell on the road due to the leg of Will Lutz. What a stupid name. Not Lutz, but CLUTZ, the one I just came up with because he made the last field goal. I can feel your look. I know, it's corny and horrible and downright cringy. I'll see myself out. LATER FOLKS!