When Kirk Cousins hit Jeremy Sprinkle at the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter to go up 15, I was thinking to myself that this was exactly what the Saints needed.
Everything they touched over the last seven weeks had turned to gold. They didn’t just win, they cruised to seven-straight victories. Things had been coming pretty easy during their streak. A bad loss against an opponent they were clearly better than would perfectly illustrate just how tough it’s going to be for the rest of the season.
A record of 7-3 wasn’t so bad and they would have learned a valuable lesson in defeat: the Saints are no longer a secret and every team they face, regardless of record, was coming for them with their best shot.
On this day, I thought, the Saints looked comfortable, while their opponent looked desperate. And a desperate team can be dangerous.
Then, the Saints took the ensuing kickoff. And once again showed how truly special they are in a rally for the ages.
All of a sudden the switch flipped and the team we’d been watching for the past seven weeks returned.
It all started with Drew Brees. He had that look in his eye and took over. Zero of his next 11 passes touched the ground as he fired two touchdown passes.
The defense stepped up with a stand on third and inches that kept the game alive.
Then, they caught a couple of breaks. First, Alvin Kamara bobbled the ball up in the air on pass from Brees and yet it somehow landed innocently into his hands as he weaved his way into the end zone. Then, Cousins, who was remarkable all game, inexplicably threw a pass to no one resulting in a intentional grounding with his team in field goal range to win it.
Once it got to overtime, Washington had no chance. They knew it. The Saints knew it. A quick three and out got the Saints the ball back. Two Mark Ingram runs of 20 and 31 yards later, Wil Lutz was in field goal range to send them to 8-2.
They probably didn’t deserve it. All in all, Washington outplayed them.
Still, they found a way. And in the NFL sometimes these are the type of victories where a team learns a little more about themselves.
“These are wins that you can build on and you develop confidence,” Brees said. “You understand that the games only get tougher, and you magnify their importance, and you just realize that we can win anywhere or anytime no matter what the circumstance.”
On Sunday that circumstance was down 15 points with less than three minutes to play. Yet they overcame. Which, as Brees said, shows them they can overcome anything.