New Orleans Saints – Evolution of a Winner -Zach Strief – (WWL) Saints News

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New
Orleans Saints – Evolution of a Winner

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October 1, 2018

 It wasn’t always
pretty, but how great is it when the ugly games result in your
biggest win of the year?  The Saints traveled to East
Rutherford New Jersey and return home having gone 2-0 on their
two-game road trip.  I said after week two that this Saints
team was in a similar place this year, as it was last
year.  Two questionable showings followed by a two-game road
trip, that would reveal whether the team had what it took to
win.  I’m happy to report, the similarities to last year
continue  After a thrilling win at rival Atlanta, the Saints
take down the Giants in a game they controlled nearly from the
beginning.  Through four games, the Saints sit at 3-1 atop the
NFC South and would be quick to tell you, they have not played
their best football yet.  Luckily, reinforcements are on the
way.  

The Saints have turned their running
game around in quick order the past two weeks.  Through two
games the Saints sat last in the NFL in rushing at just 53 yards a
game.  For many, Mark Ingram’s return couldn’t come fast
enough.  There seemed to be no structure to a running game
that had been a real strength just a year earlier.  Two weeks
later the Saints have exploded on the ground with outputs of 143
and 170, and Mark Ingram’s return will just add to the offensive
dominance.  The offense isn’t alone dominating the ground game
though.

The Saints D came into the game ranked
6th in the NFL against the run, and will only bolster that
after surrendering just 65 yards on the ground.  A team that
can run the ball and stop the run will travel well into tough
environments as this season marches on.  That bodes well for a
team with aspirations to go far this season.  It is
becoming clear that the Saints have addressed their issues from
last season.  Demario Davis continues to flash with several
big plays.  His two sacks vs. the Giants both came in big
moments and Tyeler Davison added a sack/fumble to seal
the victory.  In the biggest moments, the Saints have come up
big.    

While you could go on and
on about stats, and how the team is performing to try and dissect
how they are succeeding, I think there is one clear reality that
can propel this team a long way.  The Saints continued their
assault on the 4th quarter this season.  The Saints have
now scored at least 14 points in the final stanza of every game and
have amassed 68 points in the 4th quarter and overtime.
 Games in the NFL are decided in the last few minutes more
often than they are not.  Both, offensively and defensively
the Saints have found ways to rise to the occasion in these
moments.  Just when the momentum seemed to have been turned
vs. the Giants, Brees came up with a 21-yard pass to
Josh Hill to get out of their own end zone, and Alvin
Kamara later in the drive sealed the win with a 49
yard run that shut the door on any comeback available to the
Giants.  It’s the type of drive championship teams make.
 Big plays when you need them most, stops in critical moments,
rising to the level of the moment.  This team will never feel
like it’s out of a game, because it has proved to itself that it
never is.  

Football can be an interesting
game sometimes.  While so much of your success is due to
execution, much more can also attributed to the mental fortitude of
your team.  What’s amazing about that is you can’t recruit it,
you can’t scout it, you can’t buy it, you can’t draft it, you can
only earn it.  Some teams take weeks to find a way to believe
in themselves at the end of games.  Often, it comes too late.
 For the Saints, it has been there since week one.  Even
in defeat, this team battled back.  This week, they
closed out a game they should have, last week they found a way to
win when they needed it the most.  This team has learned to
win.  In the NFL there is no greater lesson that can be
learned.  

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