Drew Brees and Marques Colston got their records. The Saints got their first win. Now they’re on a break.
What happens next?
Was Sunday’s game an aberration, or a sign of better things to come? In defeating San Diego at home, the Saints won despite having a nonexistent ground game (again) and a leaky run defense (again). But the team also made big plays when it needed them.
In the fourth quarter, the Saints got a tip-drill interception from Roman Harper, which led to a field goal, and a crucial game-clinching strip and fumble recovery by Martez Wilson.
Then there was Brees, who fired four touchdown passes — including three to Colston, who became the Saints’ all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 52.
New Orleans, of course, is 1-4, with a bye this weekend. After that, the Saints have back-to-back road games at Tampa Bay and Denver.
They are still very much a work in progress. They rank 29th in the NFL in pass defense and 32nd in run defense. And on offense, their ground game is nearly invisible. The good news is, they’ve got an extra week to work on their problems.
WHERE THEY STAND
After dropping their first four games, the Saints outlasted San Diego 31-24 on Sunday for their first win of the season. They are now tied with Carolina for last in the NFC South, four games behind first-place Atlanta.
The Saints have a bye this week. After that, they play at Tampa Bay on Oct. 21, then at Denver on Oct. 28.
JOB WELL DONE WR Marques Colston What he’s done: Oh, not much. Colston just caught nine passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns in the win over San Diego — and, in doing so, became the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 52, surpassing Joe Horn.
What’s next: Colston, obviously, is off to a much better start this season than he had last year, when he missed time with a fractured collarbone. Expect him to keep producing, given the Saints’ strong passing game (and limited rushing game).
ON THE SPOT DE Will Smith What he’s done: Just before the season opener, Smith had his four-game suspension vacated — at least temporarily. He played in the first five games, but his 22 tackles and two sacks haven’t justified his $5.36 million salary. Roger Goodell reaffirmed the suspension this week — but because Smith appealed Friday, he should be able to play next week.
What’s next: Now he needs to produce. Smith and the defensive line must play better against the run. Smith and other ends must also put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as they did Sunday against Philip Rivers.
NUMBERS TO KNOW .375e_SFlbCurrent winning percentage of the Saints’ first five opponents. The Redskins, Panthers, Chiefs, Packers and Chargers are a combined 9-15.
.522 Winning percentage of the Saints’ next five opponents. The Buccaneers, Broncos, Eagles, Falcons and Raiders are a combined 12-11.
1,769e_SFlbNumber of passing yards Drew Brees threw for during the first five games of last season. He finished with 5,476 yards, an NFL single-season record.
1,720e_SFlbNumber of passing yards Brees threw for during the first five games this season.
WORTH REPEATING “We’re a little banged up, so let’s get some guys healthy, let’s regroup and let’s come back off this bye ready to get on a roll here.”
NFC SOUTH: JUDGMENT CALLS
Falcons: UP What they’ve done: At 5-0, Atlanta is the only NFC team with a perfect record. Three of the Falcons’ wins have come on the road, including last week at Washington.
Buccaneers: DOWN What they’ve done: Tampa Bay’s only win, in Week 1 against Carolina, doesn’t look as impressive as it once did. With a three-game losing streak, the Bucs are coming off a bye.
Panthers: DOWN What they’ve done: Carolina nearly won at Atlanta two weeks ago, but didn’t look good in a home loss to Seattle. The Panthers were supposed to be better than this.