New Orleans Saints 25, Seattle Seahawks 20
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from New Orleans' 25-20 Week 8 win over Seattle:
Quarterback grade: Drew Brees, 79.4
Brees and Co. push through Seahawks' stout defense
The exploits of the “undersized” future Hall-of-Fame QB Drew Brees have become an expectation, and this matchup against the Seattle secondary proved to be another notch in the belt of a great career. Brees was able to pepper the defense with 27 completions on 33 aimed passes, distributing the payload between his trio of talented receivers (Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Michael Thomas).
Top offensive grades:
LG Andrus Peat, 81.0
WR Willie Snead, 79.5
QB Drew Brees, 79.4
LT Terron Armstead, 78.9
WR Michael Thomas, 76.9
The Saints’ offense doesn’t miss a beat
With wins in three of their last four games, New Orleans could be on the verge of a playoff push. A big key to the victory proved to be the ability of Saints playmakers to work after the catch. Willie Snead led the way with 6.8 yards after the catch and rookie second-round pick Michael Thomas continued to display first-round talent by collecting all six of his targeted passes for a team-high 63 receiving yards. After RB Mark Ingram was benched following a fumble, RB Tim Hightower stepped in to collect 102 rushing yards and posted a 2.6 yard-after-contact per-carry average.
Top defensive grades:
DL Cameron Jordan, 83.8
LB Craig Robertson, 76.6
CB B.W. Webb, 73.9
SS Kenny Vaccaro, 73.6
FS Vonn Bell, 71.1
Surprising performance from Saints’ secondary
A top-five graded performer at 4-3 defensive end, Cameron Jordan continued his magnificent season with the game's highest grade. He earned one hit on Russell Wilson as part of his six total pressures, a batted pass and a pair of run stops. The secondary played a huge role in stunting the Seahawks’ passing offense, led by the efforts of CB B.W. Webb, SS Kenny Vaccaro and FS Vonn Bell. Webb (0.30), Vaccaro (0.67) and Bell (0.78) each limited their total coverage responsibilities to average less than one yard per coverage snap.
Quarterback grade: Russell Wilson, 44.4
Mobility issues take toll on Wilson
Various injuries have taken a toll on the effectiveness of Russell Wilson this season, and a matchup with a bottom-five coverage defense did nothing to change that narrative. While Wilson was able to complete 17-of-23 aimed passes, 89 percent of his passing yardage was collected on throws less than 20 yards downfield. Wilson’s limited mobility was clearly in play, as his yards per attempt average (8.6 YPA on 20 attempts) dropped by 61 percent (3.4 YPA) when facing a blitz.
Top offensive grades:
C Justin Britt, 83.1
WR Doug Baldwin, 79.1
RB Christine Michael, 68.2
WR Jermaine Kearse, 68.0
TE Jimmy Graham, 66.7
Continued struggles for Seattle offense
Coach Pete Carroll called upon some trickery on a wideout pass from Tanner McEvoy that connected with C.J. Prosise on a wheel route for 43 yards. Seattle was able to hit paydirt one play later on the legs of RB Christine Michael, but over the course of the game the Seahawks were unable to adequately advance the ball on the ground – the longest run from scrimmage was 10 yards – as the Saints loaded the box to put the pressure on the quarterback. Doug Baldwin was able to break through late to collect the offense’s second-highest grade, but without the typical fear of a scrambling Russell Wilson, the New Orleans secondary played this game a step ahead of their opponents.
Top defensive grades:
LB Bobby Wagner, 86.2
ED Cliff Avril, 82.6
LB K.J. Wright, 78.6
DI Sealver Siliga, 76.2
FS Earl Thomas, 64.5
Average showing for defense despite early success
Saints RB Mark Ingram meet Seattle DE Cliff Avril on the second play of the second drive, ending in a forced fumble and a 34-yard touchdown return. While LB Bobby Wagner and Avril provided consistent playmaking — Avril scored a sack, three pressures, a batted pass and three run stops, and Wagner chipped in 12 solo tackles, a pair of assists and seven run stops — the combination of pinpoint passing from Brees and a strong running game proved too much.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Saints D-lineman Cameron Jordan
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