Many Saints fans were worried about the first quarter struggles against the Eagles, with the Saints quickly falling behind 14-0; but Bobby Hebert says not to worry too much.
“They shouldn't really be concerned. As long as you're within two scores, you shouldn't be overly concerned. In the Super Bowl, we were 10 points down to the Colts; and we still won the game. With the leadership and experience we have, we can handle that type of adversity.”
That said, Hebert is adamant the Saints can't have a start like that against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game. “You have to get off to a fast start. That's going to be critical against a team like the Rams especially. The Saints are a totally different animal with a fast start compared to what they did against the Eagles.”
Hebert had a word of warning, though.
“If the Saints play like they played against the Eagles, we won't beat the Rams. We have to play our best, and I think we will.”
In the comeback against Philadelphia, one of the crucial stats, as it usually is, was the turnover margin. Drew Brees threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage, but that was the Saints only turnover. Meanwhile, the Saints defense came up with two huge interceptions – both by Marshon Latimore – and New Orleans finished +1.
Hebert praised the “opportunistic” defense and believes we need to see that again. “The Saints can't afford to be -1 in the turnover margin and beat the Rams. Both teams are opportunistic, and the Saints can't have more turnovers than takeaways.”
In addition to the turnovers the defense generated, Michael Thomas had a historic day. Thomas finished with 171 receiving yards, breaking Marques Colston's postseason franchise record 144 yards. Thomas had 92 yards in Week 11 against Philadelphia.
“In the first game between the teams, the Eagles focused on trying to take away Michael Thomas,” Hebert said. “That led to some busts and miscommunications. This time, they didn't treat Michael Thomas like he was the receiver with the most receptions in the NFL.”
Will Thomas be able to replicate this performance against Los Angeles?
“I don't think the Rams are going to give him the opportunity to have that kind of game again,” Hebert said. “Aqib Talib has the physicality and skill to hang with Michael Thomas. If they take away one receiver, you have to have other guys step up.”