This is a game of dominating quarterbacks with second-ranked New Orleans Drew Brees against fifth-ranked Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. While Stafford has the awesome Calvin Johnson as his wide receiver, Drew Brees has pocket presence and the pair of Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Both are potent wide receivers in their own right. With record-breaking Saints quarterback Drew Brees playing at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, this is going to be a tough game for Matt Stafford and his Detroit Lions.
Now to the post-game analysis:
- With 12:26 in the first quarter, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford drove down the field easily and throws a1 10-yard touchdown pass to his tight end Will Heller.
- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees answers back. Unfortunately, his wide receiver Marques Colston fumbles on the Detroit’s 18 yard-line and linebacker Justin Durant recovers with 8:24 in the first quarter.
- The running game begins to pick up for the New Orleans Saints as running backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles both break for significant yardage near the end of the first quarter.
- Saints running back New Orleans Saints Darren Sproles runs for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 14:06 in the second quarter.
- Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford moves down the field again and with a 13-yard touchdown pass to his elite wideout Calvin Johnson to gain the lead 14-7 with 9:18 left in the second quarter.
- Saints quarterback Drew Brees had the football knocked out by defensive end William Young and recovered by him on Detroit’s 38 yard line at 5:39 in the second quarter. With the whistle by a referee on the field, Young was unable to gain any yardage (although through analysis of the real-time events on that entire play, Saints should have gotten the ball back.) Luckily, the Saints put a stop to the Lions offense, and the Lions failed to capitalize on the turnover.
- Saints wide receiver Marques Colston almost ties the game with a touchdown from his quarterback Drew Brees, but he did not maintain possession of the football with 21 seconds left until halftime. With time as Brees’ enemy and failed touchdown passes, Saints had to rely on a field goal by kicker John Kasay to bring the score 14-10 Lions.
- Saints Drew Brees strikes down the field with a 41-yard touchdown pass to wideout Devery Henderson to lead 17-14 with 13:17 left in the third quarter.
- Saints Marques Colston gets a first down at 9:27 in the third quarter after receiving a 11-yard pass from Drew Brees although he received the ball quite short of the first-down marker.
- After marching down the field with relative ease, Saints quarterback Drew Brees tosses a short 3-yard touchdown to Jimmy Graham to extend the lead 24-14 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
- Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford answers with an astonishing 42-yard pass to Calvin Johnson to the Saints 2-yard line. Stafford himself rushes for a touchdown to bring the score to 24-21 Saints with 1:16 left in the third.
- Saints running back Darren Sproles gets a rushing touchdown from 17-yards out at 9:58 left in the fourth quarter. The hole was huge and an easy scamper for Sproles as he extends the score 31-21 Saints.
- Saints wideout Robert Meachem scores on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to bring the score to 38-21 with 7:39 in the last quarter.
- Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson answers with a 12-yard touchdown from Matt Stafford to close the score 38-28 Saints with 4:45 left on the clock.
- The Saints recover the onside kick at 4:39, and almost instantly, quarterback Drew Brees throws a 41-yard bomb to Robert Meacham to bring them to the Detroit’s 1-yard line. Saints running back Pierre Thomas finishes with a 1-yard touchdown and elevate the score to 45-28.
- Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford’s pass to Nate Burleson was intercepted by cornerback Jabari Greer with 3:13 left in the game. The game was pretty much sealed at that point, if it wasn’t earlier.
The first half was a Thrilla in the Superdome as both offenses moved up and down with ease, exchanging blows. Whereas the Detroit Lions moved quickly down the field passing, like the agility of Muhammad Ali, the New Orleans Saints relied on the run, pounding and grounding (even through receptions from their running backs and fullback) like the late, great Joe Frazier. The New Orleans quickness cost them two fumbles however as the second quarter drew to a close. Not helping either team through the first half, the referees were giving contradictory flags and signals.
After baiting the Detroit Lions with the run in the first half, the New Orleans Saints combined the run with the pass. Saints wideout Marques Colston became marquee as the field opened up. Like the first half, the referees weren’t doing any favors as they were giving contradictory flags and signals. At one point, there was a beneficial first down given to the Marques Colston of the Saints despite him tackled at least a yard short of it.
This NFC Wildcard playoff game was indeed a battle of the quarterbacks in this game, and both teams relied on their powerful offensive weapons. Saints Drew Brees had a phenomenal night with 466 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and a 134.4 quarterback rating. The Lions Matthew Stafford didn’t too bad either with his 380 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 97.0 quarterback rating. His wideout Calvin Johnson was as advertised tonight with 211 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, but Megatron could not overcome the Optimus Prime of Drew Brees. His fellow Autobots Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston and Robert Meachem was too much for the Lions to handle. The New Orleans won the game assuredly with a score of 45-28.
The New Orleans Saints will face the dominant fourth-ranked defense of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park. However, the Saints have not faced tough defenses through much of the regular season with the exception of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars early on. In both of those games, however, the New Orleans won handsomely by at least 10 points. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will have to rely on his wits and weapons as he will have to overcome the overwhelming offensive weapons of the New Orleans Saints. In the meantime, Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson will be doing his pumping on his bench at home. Matthew Stafford had a great run, but the vision of Drew Brees and the potency of his available weapons was just too much.