“That was a good way to start.”
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees summed it up simply to Zach Strief after their 42-10 beatdown of the Carolina Panthers.
“[We had] balance, [we were] fast, rushed the ball very well,” Brees said. “I think we were effective in the red zone; when we got down there, we scored touchdowns. The defense had some big stops and obviously the big turnover for a touchdown by A.J. Klein.”
The game was never really in doubt. New Orleans led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and Klein's pick six made it 21-0 early in the second. Not content to rest on their laurels, the offense scored two more touchdowns; and the Saints led 35-3 at halftime.
While Carolina turned the ball over three times, New Orleans did not. In fact, the Saints only had eight turnovers over the course of the entire season.
“That is winning football,” Brees said. “I wouldn't just say that's winning football; that's championship football. When you can take care of the football like that, you're playing a complementary game with your defense.
“Listen, the [opposing] defense is going to get you sometimes; but if you make sure if you still maintain it and then you can punt and play the field position game, man, that's so helpful for our defense. Then they become opportunistic and present opportunities for us just like they did today. That's championship-caliber football; and if we can do that, it gives us a great chance to win.”
New Orleans were +15 in the turnover margin, second only to the New England Patriots. That was one of the reasons the Saints ended the regular season 13-3 – the first time in franchise history they have won 13 games in back-to-back seasons.
But it's playoff time now. Are the Saints prepared to go on the road and win in the playoffs?
“We have to be,” Brees stated. “Playoff time is kind of like anything can happen time. Yeah, we'd love to have games at home with our crowd in the Superdome and that craziness, but I like the way this team has won games, especially these last two, going on the road in must-win games and playing the way we have.”