The Saints’ season started at home against Detroit and it was an appropriate beginning, as Drew Brees lit up the Superdome with six touchdown passes. It was the beginning of a 5-0 run that included a victory at Philadelphia (albeit with Donovan McNabb on the bench), and ended with a thumping home win over the Giants, where Brees threw for 369 yards. At the time, NYG was undefeated and it looked like a huge win. In retrospect, a Week 4 win over the “other” New York team, the boys in green was more meaningful. Throughout this six week period encompassing five games, New Orleans showed a very good ability to get to the quarterback and to defend the run.
A trip to Miami started the second sequence that saw New Orleans push its record to 11-0. There were some problems that started to show up in this stretch of games that included a big Monday Night home win over Atlanta that all but wrapped up the NFC South and easy road games at St. Louis and Tampa Bay. Namely, the rush defense showed serious holes, as teams routinely piled up over 100 yards on the ground. But it ended with another big statement win at home—this one over New England, as Brees came up big again, throwing for 371 yards, five touchdowns and zero picks, in completely outplaying Tom Brady.
Three more games saw New Orleans hit the skids. It started in FedEx Field, a game the Saints richly deserved to lose, but the ‘Skins did everything possible to hand the game over and ultimately succeeded. A narrow escape at Atlanta followed and finally the undefeated string came to an end at 13-0, when Dallas won a Saturday night affair in the Bayou. New Orleans did not get much in the way of ground support for Brees and their pass defense was poor. The season ended with losses to Tampa Bay and on the road at Carolina, although by that point everything was clinched and the team was clearly mailing it in and resting up for the playoffs.
New Orleans then blew out Arizona and nipped Minnesota at home to win the NFC crown. They have shown vulnerability to the ground game in the postseason, but they are holding a huge edge in taking care of the ball, winning the turnover battle 7-1. Credit Brees, who is playing like a championship-hardened veteran and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who has turned his defense loose to force the action. It got them their first-ever appearance in the Super Bowl, and now they can bring their home city and state its first pro championship of any kind.