On Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New York Giants didn’t look anything like a team that was trying to jump into a first-place tie with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East race.
Giants they weren’t. Then again, they haven’t been when they go against the New Orleans Saints.
One of the teams that for years has taken great pride in being physical and hard-nosed was for all intents and purposes cut down to size for the third time in six seasons by the Saints.
The Saints won 30-7 in 2006 in Sean Payton’s first season as their head coach, then crushed Big Blue 48-27 early on in 2009 during a 13-game winning streak that helped launch their Super Bowl XLIV run.
Monday night, it was a 49-24 nationally-televised embarrassment in which the Giants really didn’t have a fighting chance after Eli Manning threw an interception in the end zone to end their first possession.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. “We had some opportunities and didn’t take advantage of them. They made some big plays, and we weren’t able to do anything we wanted to defensively.”
There was a reason for that as the NFL’s top-ranked offense ravaged the Giants defense for 577 total yards, the second-highest total hung on them in franchise history.
But the Giants shouldn’t feel so blue. The Saints have done that to a lot of teams, and Monday night they served notice that they’re ready to make a December push to the playoffs.
With Drew Brees and his array of offensive weapons hitting on all cylinders, the Saints made it look easy.
He led his team to seven touchdowns in 11 possessions - throwing for four scores and running for another on the way to a 363-yard passing night that earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors Tuesday.
“He’s throwing the ball with great rhythm and anticipation,” Payton said. “He would tell you that we are doing a good job of protecting, and we had the (run-pass) balance that we’re looking for in November and December.”
The Saints, who ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing when they won the Super Bowl two years ago, racked up 205 yards against the Giants and are up to eighth in the latest league-wide stats with 125.5 yards per game.
“I thought we ran it well tonight ? We ran it very well,” Payton said. “Those are all things that are good allies for a quarterback, but he made some fantastic throws tonight.”
To be sure, it was all good.
The Saints know they’ll still have to keep grinding because the Atlanta Falcons are lurking one game behind them in the NFC South with a lot of football left to be played.
“You have to take a win like tonight and be critical of yourself and look at some of the things that we need to correct,” said Payton. “The minute you stop doing that I think you start going in the other direction.