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Saints survive, defeat Seahawks inside Superdome

Thanks to their most complete physical effort of the season, the New Orleans Saints (3-4) survived a late comeback attempt to down the Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1), 25-20, inside the Superdome. Here's what we learned:

  1. The discrepancy between penalties called was eye-opening in this game. Perhaps you could rationalize it by saying that the Seahawks play an aggressive style of pass defense and essentially gamble that the referees will not throw a flag on every play. Sometimes, the calls simply catch up. But the Seahawks were clipped for 11 penalties for a total of 76 yards while the Saints were hit with just two for a total of 10 yards. The physical play in both secondaries led me to believe that those numbers should have been evened out a bit. By my count, four of the 11 calls on Seattle were of the pass interference, defensive holding or illegal hand usage variety.
  1. Good for New Orleans. This team seems like a powder keg in the best possible way. The combination of Drew Brees and that receiving corps is still tantalizing but something is always holding them back. Sunday was not the assertive offensive explosion we were looking for, but it was a physical and efficient performance. The ageless Tim Hightower went for 102 yards (nearly four per carry) while Brees spread the ball around nicely -- six players had two or more catches and two had six catches each.
  1. Credit Seattle for this: The middle of their defense is absolutely terrifying. I counted five straight handoffs over two goal line possessions to Hightower where the play was shut down without a score. Drew Brees had to go over the top for one score and had to dial up a pick play slant for another. The teeth of this unit is built to thrive in November and December, so don't count them out by any stretch.
  1. C. J. Prosise is adding a fun element to Seattle's backfield. More a combination of a poor man's Percy Harvin and Le'Veon Bell, Prosise led the Seahawks in receiving (four catches, 80 yards) and added another 23 yards on the ground to complement Christine Michael. As the offense continues to develop, Prosise should help tight end Jimmy Graham torture linebackers and box safeties.
  1. Can the Saints sustain some kind of run? Over the past few seasons, New Orleans' up and down performances are proof that momentum does not exist. Last year it was a loss to the Eagles after an overtime win over the Cowboys. A loss to the Titans after a 52-49 thriller over the Giants. Perhaps the addition of first-round pick Sheldon Rankins in a few weeks will push this team over the edge and make an unpredictable defense a little more stable. This team is better than 7-9.
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