NEW ORLEANS - It was some night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Monday night.
You win despite rushing for 10 yards while the Dolphins rushed for 96 in the first half. Statistics are overrated, I guess. New Orleans did end up running for 74 yards.
The 2013 New Orleans Saints are beginning to resemble the 2009 New Orleans Saints with a quarterback playing lights out for the last two weeks and a defense forcing a bushel of turnovers while generating a pass rush.
Drew Brees had a fabulous night, completing 30-of-39 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions for a terrific quarterback rating of 144.5.
The Saints became just the eighth team in NFL history to go from 0-4 one season to 4-0 the next with their convincing 38-17 victory over the Dolphins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
This was the 12th straight home win for the Saints under Sean Payton. That is some home field advantage! It was the eighth straight win on Monday Night Football for the Saints, clearly the ready for prime time players under Payton.
Ryan Tannehill is a nice young quarterback but his four turnovers (three interceptions, one fumble) proved lethal for Miami. There was no chance for the Dolphins to overcome that deficit.
The Saints are virtually unbeatable in prime time under Sean Payton, especially at home.
Here are my quick takes from the big win for New Orleans over Miami.
**This was the first game between two teams with records of 3-0 or better on Monday Night Football since October 5, 1998. Hard to believe.
**Nick Toon started the game at wide receiver for the Saints, who ran on the first play and then replaced him.
**Miami challenged the Saints immediately, winning the toss, deferring and putting the Saints offense on the field first. Bad idea. The Saints made it look easy, going 82 yards in six plays. Darren Sproles destroyed Reshad Jones on the 48-yard completion on the opening drive. Total mismatch.
**Brees went over 47,000 yards for his career on the opening drive of the game. Yet another milestone for the future Hall of Famer. Only 6 players in NFL history have surpassed that mark. He has now thrown for 28 touchdowns and five interceptions on Monday Night Football. Brees has thrown four touchdowns passes 21 times in his career, tied for third most in league history with Dan Marino. Payton Manning is the leader with 24 while Brett Favre did so 23 times.
**On Miami's first play from scrimmage, the former O.P. Walker teammates and close friends Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis matched up with Wallace catching a 10-yard pass for a first down.
**Junior Galette came out a little too aggressive, jumping inside on a pair of runs by Lamar Miller and Ryan Tannehill, giving both the edge for runs of 20 and 26 yards. No support was forthcoming. Galette would make his mark in the second half.
**John Jenkins made his first big play of the season, stuffing Daniel Thomas for a two-yard loss on third-and-an inch from the New Orleans nine-yard line. Of course, you have to wonder why Miami ran wide on third and an inch to go? Ever hear of a quarterback sneak? Tannehill had already rambled 26 yards on a run. Somehow, you had to believe he could sneak for an inch. Still, great play by Jenkins, who has a chance to a very good player.
**Sean Payton threw the red flag on a third-and-seven completion to Lamar Miller that was marked as a first down. It was a very good challenge which paid off as Miller was short.
**The Saints interior offensive line got blown up on running plays consistently in the first quarter. Jahri Evans got beat on a running play and got beat for a sack. How healthy is Evans? Ben Grubbs got beat for a loss on a run and then got flagged for holding, negating a first down completion to Ben Watson. Bryce Harris got in for a running play and committed a false start.
**Tannehill ran one too many times. He was stripped by Curtis Lofton, Rafael Bush recovered at the New Orleans 38-yard line.
**Can anyone cover Sproles? The smallest in stature was the biggest on the field for the Saints. His touchdown catch from Brees was a thing of beauty, a throw just in time, a player concentrating and making a play. Sproles had seven catches for 114 yards in the first half.
**Brees passed Fran Tarkenton for sixth on the all-time passing yardage list in NFL history. He is in tall company.
**Jimmy Graham now has a touchdown in five straight games, one short of the team record, which he shares. Graham was targeted for the first time midway through the second quarter. He caught it for a score. He was targeted a second time. He scored again. He is having a tremendous season, to date. He recored his third consecutive 100 yard receiving game.
**The Saints defense came out and got a three-and-out in just 53 seconds to start the second half.
**After being shutout in the first half (targeted once), Marques Colston caught three passes on the scoring drive of the Saints on their first possession of the second half. Brees capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson. Colston finished with seven catches for 96 yards, all in the second half. Can you say halftime adjustment?
**Brees now has 20 or more completions in 56 consecutive games, extending his NFL record. He tied his own NFL record with his ninth consecutive 300 yard passing game. He now has nine 300-yard passing games on Monday Night Football, tying Brett Favre in that department.
**Galette, Martez Wilson and Cameron Jordan each got sacks of Tannehill in the third quarter. Tyrunn Walker added a fourth quarter sack. The four sacks matched the four turnovers the defense forced.
**How good is this Saints defense playing? They have allowed just 14 points in the second half in four games.
**Khiry Robinson had consecutive runs of 11 and 10 yards in the fourth quarter when the Saints wanted to work the clock. He showed good quickness to the hole and some power in the process.
**Do you think Dolphins fans are lamenting the decision of Nick Saban to pass on Brees in 2006?
**Do you think Sean Payton makes a difference? Monday night was his 100th career regular season game as a head coach. Payton is 66-34. The guy can flat out coach.
This is simply a team making plays on both sides of the football. This is a team that is improving weekly. Now comes a huge road swing to Chicago and New England to face a pair of good teams with a combined 7-1 record, prior to the bye week. The biggest concern remains the play of the offensive line. All other aspects of this team are looking good to very good.
The Saints are 0-3 under Sean Payton at Soldier Field. Very few teams win at Gillette Stadium. A split would be very good for the Saints. A sweep would be off the charts. Losing both games would not kill their chances at achieving big things. Just a quarter into the season, the Saints are clearly the team to beat in the NFC and are making noise that can be heard all the way up to Seattle.
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