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“We’ve seen this movie before”

By Jeremy R. Johnson

How many times this year will the Saints cruise to a nice lead, only to squander it in the fourth quarter? Such was the case Sunday Oct. 19, in Detroit, at Ford Field.

The Saints certainly looked the part of the Super-Bowl contenders we’d all thought they’d be going into this season. On a day when Detroit’s number one defense was allowing little room to rush the ball, Drew Brees was his old self, as he carved up the Lion’s secondary. In the first half Brees and the Saints offense took what the defense gave them, being content to throw short passes, and check-downs to running backs.

The offensive line held up well against the Lion’s heralded pass rush for most of the contest, especially in the third quarter, where Brees connected with Kenny Stills on a gorgeous 46-yard touchdown strike. The Saints led the Lions 23-10, with a little over five minutes remaining in the game. Then the meltdown of the Saints began.

Detroit’s offense was pedestrian for much of the afternoon, clearly missing their three-time First Team All-Pro wide-receiver Calvin Johnson. The Saint’s defense played well for three and a half quarters, until Golden Tate happened. New Orleans cornerback Corey White was an excellent position to potentially steal the game away for the Saints, but Golden Tate essentially intercepted his own pass and raced 73 yards to the end-zone embarrassing a few Saints defensive backs along the way with his blazing speed.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) runs for a 73-yard reception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate (15) runs for a 73-yard reception for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

With a score of 23-17, and momentum being squarely on Detroit’s side, New Orleans began its drive at the 20-yard line, with just over three minutes to play. On third and nine, Drew Brees threw over the middle of the field to Marques Colston, but was intercepted by Glover Quinn and returned to New Orleans’ 14 yard line. Matthew Stafford eventually threw the game winning touchdown to receiver Corey Fuller, a rookie out of Virginia Tech.

This is the third time this season that the Saints have blown a late lead in the fourth quarter, two of the three resulting in losses. Drew Brees, as great as he has been for a long time in New Orleans, doesn’t appear to be as sharp as he was in years past. Which begs the question, could we be seeing the decline of Brees? His arm strength has been questioned all year, but he has been able to connect with Stills downfield on two occasions, and his arm looks fine. Brees has always been more of a gunslinger, but his offensive line is not protecting him as well as in years past, which has contributed to his inconsistent play at times.

The only saving grace for the Saints is that the division as a whole has been terrible. Tampa Bay had a great week by default, because of their bye week. A week that saw each other team in action lose. In order for the Saints to have any chance, Brees has to play better than ever, because a poor defense coupled with his costly turnovers, make a recipe for disaster.

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