With the temperature at 8° at kickoff with wind gusts that at times topped 40 miles per hour, Saturday’s game in Cleveland was the Saints’ coldest game on record in their history. The Browns might be more used to it, you’d think, but it was the third coldest game on record in their frigid December history. Despite the conditions, the Saints found a way to win, 17-10, to keep the flickering hopes of their 2022 playoff berth alive.
Perhaps most unexpected was two game-changing plays being made by Daniel Sorensen and Carl Granderson – the two most unlikely heroes of the game. Sorensen came in to play safety after injuries to Marcus Maye, PJ Williams and Justin Evans forced him into duty. Despite being the 4th string option, Sorensen came up with a critical interception to help set up the game-winning touchdown. Granderson, for his part, finished the game by sacking Deshaun Watson on 4th down with seconds remaining in the game and the Browns threatening to tie the game. Granderson’s play may have been enough to secure Dennis Allen coming back as coach next season.
With brutal conditions for throwing, the Saints were limited to just 15 passes and 8 completions. They leaned instead on their rushing attack and were paced by Alvin Kamara (76 yards) and Taysom Hill (56 yards), each of which had physical touchdown runs near the goal line. The Saints rushed for 152 yards on the ground and committed to moving the ball in the trenches. Give the Saints a lot of credit up front as they were forced to play new guards in Josh Andrews and Calvin Throckmorton due to injury.
The Saints will need to win their final two games and have Tampa lose 2 of their last three to win the NFC South, but this was the first step in making that happen. The unexpected turns of the 2022 Saints season continue as they survived a 10-0 deficit to score 17 unanswered points when they looked all but ready to pack it in for the season. But that’s just what we’ve come to expect from the 2022 season – expect the unexpected.