ReFo: Vikings @ Saints, Week 3
After a rough start to the season, the New Orleans Saints were able to close out a game and earn their first win of the year. After shooting out of the blocks to score touchdowns on their first two drives it looked as if they would run away with it, however the Vikings defense stepped up the next two quarters, shutting down the Saints’ offense through the air and on the ground.
It was a valiant effort but Minnesota’s defense couldn’t hold on long enough though, as the Saints added another touchdown in the fourth, and then ran out the final 6:58 on the clock with their last possession.
Let’s take a look at a few notable individual performances from each team.
Minnesota Vikings — Performances of Note
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, +0.4
Breakdown: And so the Teddy Bridgewater era begins. Matt Cassel’s injury thrust Bridgewater onto the field a bit sooner than most expected, and it looks as if Bridgewater will be the starter for the foreseeable future. Considering the fewer reps he was given in practices as the backup, he played well in his first regular season action. The most impressive aspect was his ability to stay poised under pressure, where many rookie quarterbacks can get rattled easily. He was off target on a few passes as one would expect, but overall it was a very encouraging outing for the rookie.
Signature Stat: Bridgewater was pressured on 48% of his dropbacks, on which he had a 75% Accuracy Rate and +1.0 pass grade.
Anthony Barr, LB: +1.5
Breakdown: The Vikings’ other first round pick was impressive in his own right. Barr graded positively against the run and as a pass rusher. He rushed the quarterback just 14 times, but that didn’t stop him from picking up a sack, a hit, a hurry, and a batted pass. His only struggle was in pass coverage, where he graded negatively for the second straight week, this time due to a couple missed tackles after the catch. His five receptions allowed for 35 yards is not a terrible amount, but he has to do better at stopping the chains moving.
Signature Play: With 1:31 left in the second quarter, Barr was able to beat Jahri Evans inside and trip up Drew Brees for his first career sack.
Gerald Hodges, LB: +2.2
Breakdown: Barr may not have been the most impressive linebacker for the Vikings, however. Hodges, was on the field for just 19 snaps, but still finished with the highest grade on the Vikings’ defense. He came up with two run stops on 13 run plays and assisted on a couple other stops. He took on lead blockers well and disrupted another play that led to a short gain. Hodges is certainly making a compelling case to see more time on the field.
Signature Play: With 7:06 left in the third quarter, Hodges hits lead blocker Josh Hill in the hole, sheds the block, and is able to wrap up Pierre Thomas for a two yard loss with no yards allowed after contact.
New Orleans Saints — Performances of Note
Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan, DEs: +6.6 combined
Breakdown: The defensive duo wreaked havoc against the Vikings’ offensive line, with much of it coming at Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt’s expense. Galette had the more impressive display, racking up eight pressures on 24 pass rushes for a +4.5 pass rush grade. Galette’s 27.2 Pass Rush Productivity is the highest single game PRP for an edge rusher this season. Jordan’s day wasn’t quite as impressive, but he was still able to pressure the quarterback on four occasions.
Signature Plays: On the second play of the second quarter, Galette gives Matt Kalil an inside swim move to beat him almost immediately and continues on for a hit against Cassel. For Jordan, he pushes Charlie Johnson aside with 10:00 remaining the in fourth quarter to pick up the quick sack on Bridgewater.
Curtis Lofton, LB: +3.6
Breakdown: Curtis Lofton was all over the field on Sunday, especially in run defense. He picked up five run stops on just 18 run plays and added two more stops in pass defense. His +3.4 run defense grade was the highest of his entire career.
Signature Stat: Lofton had a 27.8 Run Stop Percentage, the second-highest for an inside linebacker this season.
Drew Brees, QB: +1.6
Breakdown: While Brees had a good showing, it was not nearly as positive as it could have been. He uncharacteristically made a few poor decisions, forcing three passes into Harrison Smith’s coverage for pass defenses, at least one of which could have been an interception. Outside of those three passes though, he was on target with nearly every other throw, finishing with an 85.3 Accuracy Percentage overall.
Signature Stat: There was a stark difference between Brees’s dropbacks when under pressure and with no pressure. He was accurate on 92.3% of his passes with no pressure for a +4.5 pass grade, compared to 55.6% and a -1.9 grade when pressured.
PFF Game Ball
The game ball goes to Junior Galette, who made things difficult for the Vikings’ offensive line and quarterbacks throughout the game.