The New Orleans Saints finally looked like the team their fans hoped to see at the beginning of the season.
It was the third game of the season, but the Saints looked great Sunday in their 34-13 road win against the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers.
The Saints have still not committed a turnover this season. But their defense stepped up to give the team three takeaways – all interceptions of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s passes.
The Black and Gold fell behind in the first quarter when the Panthers kicked a field goal and took a 3-0 lead.
But on their next possession, the Saints moved the ball effortlessly down the field, converted two third-down plays and scored on a Drew Brees touchdown pass to receiver Michael Thomas.
After taking a 7-3 lead, the Saints never again trailed. It was an impressive win for a team that looked anything but impressive in its first two games.
Against the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener and the New England Patriots in Week 2, the Saints fell far behind early in the games and had to try to come back throughout.
The game against Carolina was a different story entirely.
On Sunday, the Saints’ offense was protecting Brees instead of giving up sacks and hits against their leader. And the defense looked rejuvenated, registering six sacks and coming up time and again with crucial stops.
This is the game that the Black and Gold faithful are hoping is more representative of this year’s team. Once again, Brees looked like one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. He threw three touchdown strikes and led an offense that seemed a lot better balanced between running the ball and passing.
The game offered a great relief for the fans who feared falling to 0-3 in the young season. The Saints are still in last place in their division, but they are in much better shape at 1-2 than they would have been with a loss.
Those who feared the worst can take some comfort in the fact that the young defense looked so much better than it had in the first two weeks.
And even with a patchwork offensive line that has seen key injuries already, the offense looks more like the one fans have grown used to seeing.
Sunday wasn’t a must-win game, with so much of the season left to play. But it was great to see that the first two games won’t define this year’s team.
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