Honestly, I have no idea. Neither does anyone else, apparently. As far as I can tell, this was the exact same set of human beings that got thoroughly trounced by the Browns a couple Thursdays ago, and yet, there they were, playing about as complete a game as we’ve seen since the 2009 walloping of Chicago (last year’s beatdown of the Jets doesn’t count because, well, the Jets.)
New Orleans is famous for many things: a thriving pseudo-French culture that inexplicably focuses on donuts (you can call them “beignets” all you want, they’re donuts); a wealth of celebrities who aren’t really from there but like to pretend that they are (I’m looking at you, Pitt); being the place that at least one of your friends has a story about losing a member of their bachelor party at; and now, delightfully, the place where a grumpy Saints fan elbowed a young Bengals fan in the face in order to steal the touchdown ball that Jermaine Gresham clearly intended for her, refusing to hand it over despite the crowd’s admonishment and maintaining, “I didn’t mean to hit that young lady”—oh, well, in that case, no worries!
New Orleans is also famous for having a football team that is nearly invincible at home, so it was something of a surprise to watch last week’s jokers-in-stripes completely dominate Drew Brees & Co. Full credit to the defense, who seemed in control even when penalty flags were extending Saints drives, who stymied the Saints on a crucial 4th-and-goal, who got great work from young corners Dennard and Kirkpatrick and who, it seems, really missed Rey Maualuga. Maualuga has spent the past couple of years being about as welcome as a James Franco tweet, but with his return, so came the run defense.
On the other side of the ball, Jeremy Hill lashed out with another 150-plus yards, including a 62-yarder right before the half-time whistle that kept the momentum going. Perhaps most pleasingly was the return of the AJ-and-Andy bromance, connecting for huge third downs, long gains, and a score.
I mean, look, I’m with you—this column is supposed to be, well, funny. But it’s a lot harder to be funny when the team plays like that. Especially with the added emotion of seeing Devon Still get to meet Sean Peyton, the Saints coach who did so much to kick-start the purchasing of Still jerseys.
So, yeah, not a lot of jokes. Just a solid, splendidly executed win. Here’s to me not being funny until February.
Final Score: Bengals 27, Saints 10
Man Of The Match: Possibly “Paulie G” should get this after the abuse I heaped on him last week. Maualuga might not be flashy but apparently he makes a big difference. Gresham had two scores, and I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed his efforts to introduce a little soccer into the proceedings with his first. But this one goes to Andy Dalton, who went from his worst ever day as an NFL player (and possibly as a human being) to having one of this best. Three scores, no turnovers, big third downs…that’ll do…