In three of the New Orleans Saints' 10 wins this year, franchise quarterback Drew Brees(notes) threw a total of one touchdown and three interceptions. That's the key to making it through an entire season without losing a game -- when the Saints beat the Bills, Jets, and Dolphins in those games, they proved that they could win games in other ways. And now that Brees is back on track, the Saints have continued to roll despite injuries to their secondary. That's a lesson the Indianapolis Colts learned today, when they went to 10-0 on the season despite a sub-par performance from Peyton Manning(notes). Manning threw two interceptions and was held under 300 yards passing (admittedly, by only one yard) for only the second time this season.
Manning also got away with several other throws which were either bad reads or plays in which his receivers were not in the right place. Bottom line is that Manning struggled and the Colts didn't fall apart against a very game Ravens team. In their 17-15 victory, Indy relied on their defense to keep Baltimore out of the end zone, which they did by holding the Ravens to 0-for-4 in red one efficiency. That included a stand when Baltimore had the ball at the Colts' one-yard line and couldn't punch it in with three tries. When Ed Reed(notes) lost a desperation lateral on a punt return with 28 seconds left in the game, the Colts breathed a sigh of relief.
As for the Saints, they kept the "L" column clean in a more typical way -- a productive but conservative day from Brees (who threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns) and great gains from their newly effective running game. Mike bell(notes) scored twice and Pierre Thomas(notes) gained 92 yards on only 11 carries in the Saints' 38-7 walloping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After the Bucs and first-year quarterback Josh Freeman(notes) impressed with an opening-drive touchdown, New Orleans shut things down and took advantage of Freeman's rookie mistakes. Freeman threw three picks, while Brees didn't have an interception for the first time in five games.
Next, the Saints will welcome the New England Patriots to the Superdome on Monday Night Football, a barn-burner that should leave even Jon Gruden unable to give nicknames to all the primary characters. Meanwhile, the Colts play the Texans in Houston next Sunday. You may remember the Texans as the team that gave the Colts a fairly tough battle with a 20-17 squeaker on November 8. If these two teams are still undefeated after their next games, they'll certainly have earned it.