Colts in the SuperBowl. Keep in mind that while you might find that some of these grades are harsh, the offensive line struggled mightily in short yardage situations and the Saints only averaged 2.8 yards per carry as a team. Regardless of these grades, though, nothing can change the fact that the Saints are SUPERBOWL CHAMPIONS BABY!!!
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Drew Brees: A- (3.24) The guy was MVP of the game for a reason. Despite being pressured significantly a number of times, he was only sacked once, and he finished the game 32 of 39 for 288 yards and 2 TD's with no turnovers. Some of the windows Brees fit his passes in were so small you almost wonder if he has too much confidence in his ability. The only time Brees seemed to have time back in the pocket was on play action plays. Otherwise, his unmatched footwork was on full display. Brees was conservative most of the night, taking what the defense gave him underneath and being content with the short safe throws. The one negative that I'll say about Brees, and for some reason this has been an issue lately, is that his deep balls downfield have really suffered in terms of accuracy. That was similarly the case in this game, as he missed both Jeremy Shockey and Robert Meachem down the seam with overthrows. Still, it was a masterful performance. He was a little shaky early but he turned it on in impressive fashion after the first quarter and he never really came close to turning the ball over. He completed his last 10 passes and 18 out of his last 19. WOW!
Reggie Bush: B (2.78) Bush finished with just 25 yards on 5 carries, 38 yards on 4 catches, and one punt return for 4 yards. While he didn't have a game changing play I thought he was overall pretty solid. He hit the holes with authority and showed nice burst and aggression. He also got roughed out of bounds so while it won't show up on the stat sheet he got the Saints a nice 15 yard gain off that. The most impressive play Bush had all game was on a third down where he stood up a blitzing linebacker in pass protection, then curled off the block to catch a short sidearm pass from Brees that he then turned upfield to get a big first down. Bush did a little bit of everything on that play: blocked impeccably on a tough assignment, caught a tough pass in traffic, and turned it upfield for a nice gain. I think Bush has turned a corner and has waved goodbye to some of the bad habits that haunted his play earlier this season and throughout his career.
Mike Bell: C- (2.38) I love Bell, and his action was so limited in the game that I hate to give him a bad grade... but one of the two carries he had was a very regrettable circumstance. On third and goal from the 1, Bell tried to bounce his run outside instead of hitting the middle of the line of scrimmage. Bell slipped on the play, and was hit for a one yard loss. The Saints would go for it on 4th down and get stopped inside the 5. That failure to score could have been a back breaker. Luckily it wasn't, but coming away without points there was unacceptable. He finished with 2 carries for 4 yards.
Pierre Thomas: B+ (3.15) You might look at Thomas' stats and think he didn't have that special of a game: 9 carries for 30 yards, and 6 catches for 55 yards with 1 TD, but he ran with impressive toughness and would never go down to the first tackler. Even on the 4th and goal play where he was stopped short of the goal line, he broke two tackles, before another two tacklers were finally able to wrestle him down. Don't blame him, blame the terrible blocking for that play. Several times Thomas looked to be stopped dead in his tracks only to get extra yards. He did a fantastic job wielding through traffic on his touchdown, a 16 yard screen pass where he got great lead blocks before cutting back against traffic and breaking a tackle on his way to the end zone. What an awesome season for PT.
Marques Colston: B+ (2.93) Colston's drop hurt his grade. You know the drop I'm talking about. That was flat out unacceptable. It stalled a Saints drive and is part of the reason the Colts got up 10-0 early. How he dropped that ball is beyond me, that was maybe his easiest catch of the season. Then he comes back, and makes a reaching grab in traffic for a huge first down deep in Saints territory to get them out of bad field position. That catch was one of the toughest he's had all season. Weird. Overall his play the rest of the game was very solid and he more than made up for his mistake early. He was Brees' most targeted player and he delivered several times with big catches. He finished with 7 catches for 83 yards and kept the chains moving. The Colts had no answer for his frame on high passes downfield.
Devery Henderson: B+ (2.86) Henderson wore a different hat in the SuperBowl than we've been accustomed to seeing throughout his career. Instead of being the stretch the field, deep threat guy that makes only big plays, Henderson was the short throw underneath chains moving guy. Henderson made nice tough catches in tight coverage all night. He finished with 7 catches for 63 yards and provided a reliable target for Brees all day. He was also seen throwing a terrific block off the edge for Reggie Bush on a 12 yard run. Henderson also had an end around that went for a loss of 7 yards, with him passively tip toeing out of bounds to avoid a hit. Granted the play was going nowhere, but come on Devery. That aside, a solid performance for #19.
Lance Moore: B+ (2.54) Moore had limited action in this game, but boy did he make the most of it. After a reception for no gain, he had a huge 21 yard reception on one of the Saints' drives, making one of the largest gaining plays of the day. That aside, Moore made arguably the play of the day. Perhaps Tracy Porter steals his thunder a little bit with a game sealing pick six, but that 2 point conversion catch Moore made was one of the most athletic and clutch plays I have ever seen. On that stage, with the Saints up 5, for him to come up with that play was just sick. I can't give Moore enough credit for that play. He was quiet otherwise, but that play had a huge impact on the game.
Robert Meachem: C (2.84) Meachem finished with just 2 catches for 6 yards and really had no impact whatsoever on the game. The ankle must really be limiting him because for a while there towards the end of the season before that injury happened he was the arguably the best playing receiver on the roster. I gave his grade a little boost, though, because he took a screen pass at the line of scrimmage that had no business going anywhere, and he did a fantastic job of breaking a tackle and turning that play into a 6 yard gain.
Jeremy Shockey: B (2.83) Shockey had been playing on one leg throughout the playoffs. Give the guy credit, he toughed it out. By the way, the 3 games Shockey missed this season are the 3 games the Saints lost. When Shockey played, the Saints were 16-0 this season. He finished with just 3 catches for 13 yards and a touchdown. Most of his catches were of little impact and short of necessary yardage, but his touchdown was a beautiful one on one box out job where he just out-muscled the defender for the ball. That 2 yard reception ended up being the difference in the game.
David Thomas: B- (2.48) His lone reception for 9 yards gave the Saints a 1st and goal, and it preceded the aforementioned Shockey touchdown. Thomas did his usual movement from starting tight end, to second tight end to fullback. He had mixed results with his blocking, but had no major mistakes.
Jermon Bushrod: C+ (2.61) A one legged Dwight Freeney gave Bushrod absolutely everything he could handle. I was surprised to see that because Freeney had trouble getting a burst off the edge with his bum ankle, he resorted to just bum rushing Bushrod on most downs and had a tremendous amount of success doing so. In a word, Bushrod was abused by a clearly superior football player. The Saints gave Bushrod a lot of help throughout the game to neutralize the pass rush coming from that side, even when Freeney was taking a breather. As the game progressed it seemed like Bushrod got better, but it was a mediocre performance for him. Luckily he only gave up one sack.
Zach Strief: C- (2.33) Strief played a number of downs as the blocking tight end. He was flagged for a false start inside the Colts' 5. He also failed to report as an eligible receiver once (not sure if that's his fault or the coaching staff's fault), and he was very fortunate to not get flagged for an ineligible receiver downfield. Oh, and his blocking wasn't up to snuff. Definitely not his best day. It's going to be interesting to see what the Saints do with the left tackle position next season. Jammal Brown is coming off an injury and is in the last year of his contract, and both Bushrod and Strief have had their ups and downs. I'm not sure either can be the long term permanent answer at left tackle. In Strief's defense, the Saints have had him playing all over the field (including tight end) all season. If his natural position is right tackle, it's nice that the Saints are giving him playing time and finding ways to get him involved, but I can't imagine it's easy to play out of position all the time. Give Strief credit, like David Thomas, for helping the Saints all season and doing whatever the team asked of him even when many times he wasn't put in ideal circumstances to showcase his skills.
Carl Nicks: B- (2.95) His run blocking was surprisingly mediocre, and his pass blocking wasn't very impressive either. No major mistakes, so Nicks was fairly steady, but he just wasn't mauling people and taking care of business like he normally does.
Jonathan Goodwin: B- (2.96) Goodwin got very little push off the line of scrimmage all day long. Whenever he stayed in position he had very little success. He did have success, as always, pulling on screens and leading the way with huge blocks. Give him credit for springing that Pierre Thomas touchdown with a fantastic lead block.
Jahri Evans: B- (3.12) Like Goodwin, on PT's touchdown, he threw a tremendous block to seal the backside and give Thomas a cut back lane which he'd use to score. Both of those blocks really were special. Evans, however, was otherwise struggling. He was very up and down all game. He was either dominating, or getting dominated. There was no in between. Too many times in short yardage situations he failed. On the two goal line plays that were stopped the Saints ran behind Evans with no success.
Jon Stinchcomb: C (2.73) Robert Mathis may have never gotten a sack, but it wasn't thanks to Stinchcomb's blocking. He beat Stinchcomb around the edge with speed, inside with power, and many other ways. To me Stinchcomb was the most struggling player on the line. He had his moments, but like Evans just didn't get it done on short running plays. His pass protection was shady, and he was fortunate that Mathis couldn't get to Brees because of how fast he was getting rid of the football and how good his footwork was.
My Offensive Player of the Game: Drew Brees