COMMENTARY | The New Orleans Saints opened the 2013 season with a 23-17 home victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, September 8. The win gives the Saints (1-0) an early lead in the NFC South standings. With head coach Sean Payton back on the sideline following a one-year suspension in 2012, the New Orleans defense did a terrific job of stopping a potent Atlanta offense. As usual, however, it was the Saints' passing attack that provided most of the scoring. With five catches in the contest, wide receiver Marques Colston became the franchise's career leader with 537 receptions.
Colston's first grab of the game was a 25-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 10-10 and gave the receiver the franchise lead. He entered the 2013 season tied with former wide receiver Eric Martin at 532 receptions. With 59 career receiving touchdowns, Colston already owns that franchise mark as well. He will now chase Martin and Joe Horn for the team's yardage record, trailing Horn by fewer than 200 and Martin by approximately 400. Saints fans would like to see Colston top the list soon, hopefully helping the team win games in the process.
Payton's return will undoubtedly help the entire team, particularly a defense that was historically terrible without its head coach present last year. But quarterback Drew Brees seemed more at ease on Sunday, especially after connecting with Colston for the team's first touchdown of the season. Part of this team's success since 2006 can be attributed to Payton, Brees, and Colston consistently being elite performers among their peers. Now Colston is rightfully taking his position atop the franchise's receiving records lists.
While the trio of Colston, Horn, and Martin are squarely separated from the rest of the team's past receivers, Martin's numbers were posted over a significantly longer time period. Colston played his 103rd game on Sunday, giving him one more than Horn in a Saints uniform. Martin, on the other hand, saw action in 143 games for New Orleans. Of course, Colston is playing in a better offense, perhaps one of the best that the NFL has ever seen.
Colston was targeted six times on Sunday, proving he remains a key weapon for Brees when healthy. Only tight end Jimmy Graham saw more targets (seven) in the game, while running back Darren Sproles equaled Colston's targets with six.
The receiving touchdown, a diving effort, was only the third for Colston in a season opener. Last year the receiver did not score until Week 4, and the team stumbled to an 0-4 start.
But things are different now. Payton is back, Brees looks confident, and Colston is clearly making his presence felt early. Leading the franchise in receiving totals is nice, but fans are expecting much more than big statistics in 2013. The Saints won the NFC South in 2011 with a record of 13-3, and expectations are equally as high two years later.
If Colston continues to perform well, he could be contributing to another magical season in New Orleans while also securing more team records for himself.
Mike Patton grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance.
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- Marques Colston
- New Orleans Saints
- Sean Payton