12 observations: Saints pound Cardinals

This is supposed to be the best NFL weekend of the year.

But it got off to a rough start with a blowout 45-14 win by the Saints over the Cardinals.

Here are 12 observations after spending the past three-plus hours on the couch. Why 12? Because that's how many I came up with after emptying out my notebook.


1. This is the Reggie Bush we've been waiting on the past four seasons. A threat in the backfield. A threat on special teams. Making defenders look like their feet are nailed to the ground. In other words, the guy that was one of the most exciting college football players of the last 20 years. Bush went 46 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and later returned a punt 83 yards to the house. But what impressed me was his aggressiveness to start the game. Running over defenders. Breaking tackles. Picking up yards after contact. Overall, five carries for 84 yards - a season high. Not that he didn't contribute at all before, but now Bush looks like a guy who could be a major difference-maker in deciding how this whole thing turns out.

2. The Cardinals have allowed 90 points in two playoff games. Wow. In other words, the Eagles aren't the only NFC team looking to add some major defensive pieces this offseason.

3. "I wish the Eagles had someone like [Jeremy] Shockey." -- An actual quote from my Dad as he watched the first quarter. I told him he was nuts, that Brent Celek is a better player than Shockey. But his argument was that the Eagles could use someone with attitude, someone who gets under the opponents' skin. What do you think? Agree or disagree?

4. After the 70-yard Tim Hightower run to start the game, horrible stretch for the Cardinals' offense. A fumble by Jerheme Urban that led directly to the Saints' second touchdown. A fumbled exchange between Kurt Warner and Beanie Wells on the first play of the next possession. An incompletion where Warner got hit. A wasted timeout. And a completion short of the first-down marker. The Saints got the ball back and scored to take a 21-7 lead.

5. Hey, who noticed No. 36 on New Orleans? Local product and ex-Eagle Kyle Eckel as the lead-blocking fullback for the Saints. Eckel spent training camp with the Eagles before getting cut. He joined the Saints midway through the season. We talked to Eckel at Wing Bowl last year. When Wing Bowl takes place this year, he could very well be preparing to play in the Super Bowl. I'm always amazed at the journey some of these guys take over the course of a year.

6. I actually didn't think they overdid it with the Kim Kardashian shots. How many were there? Three? Let's expect at least twice as many in the NFC championship.

7. We'll just have to wait and see if that's the last game of Kurt Warner's career. I wonder if he's the most accurate quarterback of this era. Definitely in the conversation. When he has time, you NEVER see Warner miss. And no one makes it look easier. Of course, today, he didn't have time. And that was the key.

8. On the flip side, ever notice how fearless Drew Brees is throwing to receivers who are covered? We actually saw Donovan McNabb do more of that this season when he was playing well. But now that I think of it, we didn't see him throw the ball up and let his receivers make plays much at all in those two losses to the Cowboys.

9. Very nice adjustment by Saints receiver Devery Henderson on the 44-yard touchdown off the flea flicker in the second quarter. It looked like the play called for the ball to be thrown to the outside, but Henderson did a good job to turn around and make the catch in the end zone.

10. I know he had no chance, but just a pathetic effort by Cardinals punter Ben Graham on the return by Bush. At least make it look like you're trying. C'mon. If he's injured, I take it back. If not, that's just weak.

11. Brees is two years younger than McNabb, and this was just the second postseason victory of his career. I'm guessing some of you can recall the first.

12. The average point differential in the 2010 playoffs is 17.2. And only one game has been decided by fewer than 10 points. Let's hope we get some better endings in the other three games this weekend.