It’s taken 39 years, but the Saints are finally back over .500 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Sunday’s victory gave the team a 149-148 record in the regular season in the building they’ve called home since 1975.
The only other time in team history when they were better than .500 in the ’Dome was in that inaugural season. After losing the home opener to Cincinnati, the Saints defeated Green Bay and Atlanta in their next two home games, the latter one coming in Ernie Heffelie’s debut as head coach after John North was fired.
But the Saints lost their last four home games of 1975 and their first three in 1976 under new coach Hank Stram, and they’ve been playing catch-up ever since, including the current nine-game home winning streak.
“How about that?” said tackle Zach Strief. “You know, that was not brought up to us in meetings this week.
“It sounds like we had to do a lot of wining lately to get there.”
Actually, yes, The Saints are now 47-18 at home in the Sean Payton era.
‘Quiet Storm’ erupts
Marques Colston’s last catch had been the infamous strip fumble in overtime at Atlanta.
But after not even targeted last week at Cleveland, breaking an 86-game streak with at least one reception and being targeted twice, but without a reception in the first half, Colston finally had two on the Saints’ final scoring drive, including a 18-yarder for a touchdown, the last two of which he stretched to get over the goal line.
As usual, Colston skipped out of the lockerroom without answering questions, but second-year receiver Kenny Stills said the effort was typical Quiet Storm.
“That was huge for all of us because he’s our leader,” Stills said. “We really feed off him and for him to go out there and make a play like that between two defenders who are going to crunch him like that and get into the end zone excites us as a receiving corps and as an offense.”
The TD pass was the 64th such connection between Brees and Colston, moving them past Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry and into seventh place on the career list of QB-WR combos.
Saints coach Sean Payton he wasn’t concentrating on coverage when center Tim Lelito’s first snap after relieving the injured Jonathan Goodwin sailed over Drew Brees’ head for an 18-yard loss when the team was facing third-and-nine from its 44 and clinging to a 13-9 lead.
That means he doesn’t have to hear about it until film study today.
“First snap of the game, they looked like they were bringing the house and I just got a little nervous,” Lelito said. “We had to punt, so that made it a long walk back to the sideline which wasn’t fun.”
However, Lelito recovered to play well for the rest of the game, something he attributed in part to the support of Brees, who had similar backing last year when Lelito allowed two sacks subbing for Jahri Evans, also in Week 3 of last season.
“He was the same way today,” Lelito said. “He could have very easily came over and gotten in my face about it, but he wasn’t.
“He said, ‘You know what? That’s on me, too.’ After that, I thought I settled down pretty well.”
It’s looking like Lelito could be at center for a while. Goodwin, won a training camp battle with Lelito, came into the lockerroom with his left foot in a walking cast.
“I’ll have an MRI tomorrow (Monday),” he said. “Until then, I’ll think positive.”
When Shayne Graham’s extra-point attempt after the Saints’ second touchdown was partially blocked, it was only the sixth miss in his 389 career attempts and his first since 2010. It was also the first by a Saints kicker since Garrett Harley in 2009, the team’s Super Bowl season. ...Brandin Cooks’ 18 receptions for 168 yards in his first three games is the fifth most by a rookie in league history. ...Mandeville High grad Michael Mauti of the Vikings was credited with a solo tackle in the second quarter. ...The Saints’ healthy inactives were CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, WR Nick Toon and NT John Jenkins.