In spite of a very shaky start to their 2018 NFL Regular Season, the (2-1) New Orleans Saints have a golden opportunity tomorrow to win their 3rd straight consecutive game and at least keep a share of the NFC South Division lead after 4 weeks.
But in order for that to happen, the Saints first will have to do something that they haven't done dating back to the very 1st season of the Sean Payton-Drew Brees Era: win a game IN New York — which New Orleans hasn't done since beating the Giants (currently with a 1-2 record) by a score of 30-7 back in December of 2006.
The away team has not won in the series since 2006, with New York holding a (2-0) record against New Orleans at MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010. That includes a 16-13 victory in their last meeting there in 2016.
The Giants are (12-4) all-time against the Saints as the home team; which obviously means that the Saints as a franchise in what is now their 53rd NFL season, are (4-12) all-time when they've played at New York as the away team.
It's additionally important to note: the Giants were technically the away team in a 2005 victory at Giants Stadium, because the Saints were forced to leave New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The last time that the Saints won in New York, it was Christmas Eve of 2006.
The Saints (10-5 at that time) got contributions from everyone in handing the Giants (7-8 at that time) their sixth loss in seven games, in a contest highlighted by three successful 4th-down gambles by then first-year Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Then-Saints rookie sensation Reggie Bush ran for a career-best 126 yards and a touchdown, and Deuce McAllister had 108 yards rushing and a TD and the New Orleans defense limited New York to six first downs and 142 yards in a rout that turned the old Giants Stadium into a "ghost town" by the 4th quarter.
Drew Brees' touchdown pass to then-Saints rookie WR Marques Colston gave New Orleans a 13-7 halftime lead. Bush added a little insurance with a 1-yard TD run on an end around in the third quarter and McAllister scored on a 9-yard run early in the fourth quarter, emptying the stadium.
Bush, whose previous best rushing effort was 67 yards in the Saints 2006 season opener, was the star of the game on that day. He had 10 touches for 70 yards on the Saints go-ahead, 18-play, 89-yard drive late in the first half. The former All-American RB at the University of Southern California also had a punt return for a touchdown reversed.
Brees, who came into that day with more than 4,000 yards passing and 25 TDs, actually finished 13-of-32 for 132 yards in one of his WORST games statistically in what is now his 13th season with the Saints — on a day when his receivers dropped at least 8 passes.
But Brees' performance on that day wasn't nearly as bad as that of Giants QB Eli Manning; who after completing his first six passes (including a 55-yard score to then-Giants WR Plaxico Burress), hit three of his final 19 passes and finished with a grand total of 74 yards.
"Today was awful," said Manning after the game. "We never had anything quite like this. We've had some tough games and games where we didn't finish well, but today, we didn't do anything."
The Saints' defensive effort on that day is certainly something that New Orleans would like to repeat tomorrow evening, given their very notable struggles in the first 3 games of this current 2018 season.
Specifically, while the Saints run defense has been solid thus far, teams are hitting the Saints hard with the "big play" in the passing game — as New Orleans is giving up 10.2 yards per pass attempt, more than 2 yards worse than Oakland, the next-worst defense against the pass.
The Saints have given up four passing plays of more than 50 yards. And that's not counting the Week #2 game against Cleveland, where Browns QB Tyrod Taylor connected on a 47-yard touchdown pass to rookie WR Antonio Callaway that tied the game late in the fourth quarter.
"That is something we have to get fixed," starting Saints safety Kurt Coleman said to reporters earlier this week.
"Our ultimate goal is, if we can limit teams from having explosive plays, we're going to have opportunities to win every single game."