In arguably the craziest game of the season, the Saints outlasted the Giants, 52-49, on a last-second 50-yard goal in New Orleans on Sunday.
Eli Manning threw for 350 yards and six touchdowns but was actually outplayed by Drew Brees, who threw for 511 yards and an NFL-record-tying seven touchdowns. The not-so-secret key to Brees’ success? Spreading the wealth. Nine Saints had at least one catch, five had at least four, four had at least 75 receiving yards, and five caught touchdowns.
“From the receiver position to the tight ends to the running backs catching the ball out of the backfield, when you’re hitting multiple people in the passing game, it’s hard to just key on one guy,” Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I felt like we did a great job in that situation.”
Cooks had six catches for 88 yards and two scores, but it was Ben Watson who led the way with nine catches for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Not bad for a 34-year-old.
“He’s staying young at heart,” the 22-year-old Cooks said, laughing. “That’s what’s helping us out. A lot of guys may think he’s old, but the guy runs around like he’s a first- or second-year guy. So not too many people are paying attention to him. You can’t (get lulled) to sleep because he’ll hit you real quick.”
Odell Beckham Jr., meanwhile, led the Giants with eight catches for 130 yards and scores.
And yet, for all of the passing by both teams, the game was decided by a field goal – this after Saints rookie Marcus Murphy returned a punt 25 yards and drew a face-mask penalty on Giants punter Brad Wing.
Kai Forbath took it from there with a 50-yarder.
“I thought they were going to try to kick the ball deep and out of bounds, but they gave us a chance, and we have a special returner back there,” Cooks said. “So once I saw him catch the ball, I knew we had something going, and so for (Murphy) to split those guys like that was definitely big time for us. I was like, ‘Okay, now instead of overtime, we’re shooting for a field goal.’ So that was the beauty of it.”
The Saints (4-4) have now won three straight and four of five and are now back to .500. New Orleans has scored 110 points in its last three games (36.7 points per game), this after scoring just 103 points (20.6) in its first five.
“We’re playing together, and both sides of the ball are complementing each other,” Cooks said. “That’s the beauty of it. Drew is really healthy now and then you got other guys that are getting healthy – like myself, our linebacker position. Now we’re just getting all our guys back and getting healthy as a team. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Saints host the Titans (1-6) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The Titans have lost six straight.