Garbage for Everyone: Saints and Giants light up the scoreboard

From a competitive aspect, the Monday Nighter was decided quickly. The Saints raced out to a 21-3 lead over the Giants by halftime, and the hosts had a 35-10 advantage after three periods. Garbage time commenced early.

And oh, what a garbage time it was. We saw 28 more points in the fourth period (two touchdowns from each side), even with the issue decided. Pinball scoring all night, with a replay thrown in.

Sean Payton isn't the type of coach who likes to ease on the accelerator, of course. Maybe he likes to remind you of his offensive brilliance, maybe he's not going to worry about potential injuries, maybe he's made a pact with the spirits of New Orleans. Drew Brees played the full game, for some reason. Jimmy Graham was on the field for a late onside kick, just a few snaps after getting his bell rung. Darren Sproles, a dynamic but slight runner who's always had durability concerns, handled a rushing attempt with 3:33 left and the Saints ahead by 18 points. Marques Colston, a receiver who's missed 11 games through his career (both of his knees have been through a lot), wasn't rested early.

I have no emotional stake in the Saints (I do own some in fake football) and none of my fantasy games were decided by the latter stages of this game (thank the fantasy gods and/or Tim Tebow), but the decision to keep Brees on the field really puzzles me. Look around the league, Sean Payton. A bunch of quarterbacks are down for the season: off the top of my head, let's note Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart, Jason Campbell and Chad Henne. Peyton Manning and David Garrard never had a chance in 2011. Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb, Tarvaris Jackson and Sam Bradford have missed starts. Ben Roethlisberger and Matthew Stafford are playing through significant injuries. Tony Romo was banged up for a while, played through it. Brees is the most irreplaceable player you have (and Sproles might be No. 2); why temp fate?{ysp:more}

While the Saints kept marching in, Eli Manning was doing what he could on the other side. The Giants only managed three points in the first half, but Manning and friends went for three touchdowns after the break. Manning finished with 406 artificial passing yards, most of them handed away by the Saints defense. Manning even had 20 straight completions at one point, basically because New Orleans was conceding short throws over the middle and Manning was content to take them (once Gregg Williams sniffed a possible Manning record for consecutive completions, the lay-back Saints brought three blitzes out of the mothballs and put a stop to all that). Victor Cruz picked up a couple of scores, one of them a 72-yard gift off a blown coverage — no defender was remotely close to him.

Now it's time for your input, your sack dance or your bad beat story. Did Manning and Cruz bail you out late? Did Mark Ingram's 35-yard touchdown run with 1:02 to play — past a very disinterested group of New York defenders — get you over the line? Do you agree with Payton, exposing his starters like he did? What about Tom Coughlin's staff, which allowed Eli Manning to throw passes in the final minute, extending a blowout game for no logical reason?

Again, I had no stake in the garbage stats we saw here. They didn't win for me, they didn't steal a win from me. I have no ax to grind from a roto standpoint. But sometimes I wonder why coaches aren't more concerned about possible mishaps in games that are decided. Defenders have been known to get frustrated and take cheap shots. Fluke plays happen. No, I can't readily point to someone who was hurt in the garbage time portion of a game, though we don't always know the genesis on injuries. I do know that if I ran an NFL club, I would not put my franchise players on the field for the final few minutes of any blowout. Why is garbage time in-season any different than the final week of the preseason, when big-name players are bubble-wrapped and kept out of harm's way?

No one ever got hurt standing on the sidelines. Okay, except for Sean Payton.

I've had my say, let's go over to you. What's your Monday Night story? How are you sitting after 12 weeks? Anything else on your plate this afternoon? The floor is yours.


Images courtesy of US Presswire

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