There’s no need to be the kind of jerk who pretends that a rainy slopfest of a Monday Night Football game that ends 13-10 somehow makes for a preferable viewing experience to a football game that is not that. But what a poorly played game steered by sub-par quarterbacks and mistakes can offer is the chance to notice other moments and players that otherwise might be overshadowed during a more, well, watchable football game. Last night, Saints linebacker Demario Davis was that player.
And thank god for him, because nobody else on the Saints or Seahawks was all that interested in stepping up and grabbing much attention for themselves. Alvin Kamara had some nice catch-and-runs between running plays that got stuffed at the line, but DK Metcalf didn’t do much but exchange shoves with Marshon Lattimore after beginning the game with an 84-yard touchdown catch. Quarterbacks Geno Smith and Jameis Winston more or less spent the night deploying the “check this shit out motherfucker” style of play, the Seahawks kept missing field goals, and both teams committed a variety of killer penalties. In the middle of all that mud stood Davis, who had just as big a hand as anyone in the Saints pulling out a 13-10 victory.
Davis finished the game with 10 tackles (four for a loss) and two sacks. It was those tackles that happened behind the line of scrimmage that kept grabbing my attention, for no other reason than how competently they were performed. Davis just kept perfectly reading the direction of the Seahawks’ rushing attack, which allowed him to place himself in the exact gap that needed filling, and when he got there he refused to surrender an inch to any blocker or ball carrier.
His performance was nothing more than a lot of smart play and solid tackling, though he did create a highlight-reel moment in the third quarter when he snuffed out a Seattle running play in the backfield by shoving the Seahawks’ own center into his running back.
It’s not surprising that Davis played well. The 32-year-old has been a rock in the middle of the Saints’ defense since signing with New Orleans in 2018—he’s played 16 games and made over 100 tackles in every season he’s spent with the Saints—but he’s never been the kind of player who demands much attention from casual fans. If you’re a Saints diehard who spends every Sunday watching this team play, you could probably hold court on Davis’s skills and impact for a good 30 minutes, but if you’re the type who just checks in on this team whenever they are in a national TV spot, it’s hard to notice a player like Davis ahead of Kamara or Cam Jordan or even, yes, Taysom Hill. Which is what made Davis’s star turn last night so satisfying to watch. He had the stage to himself, and all those solid plays he makes every week couldn’t be missed while the rest of the players on the field were struggling against the weather and their own limitations.
It was fitting, then, that Davis helped finish off the game with a bit of a flourish. He got into the backfield one final time during the Seahawks’ last doomed drive of the game, sacking Smith for a loss of 10 yards on third down. And then, on the following fourth-down play, Davis dropped into coverage and watched Smith scramble around for a bit before heaving a desperate pass over the middle. Davis read the flight of the ball, jumped in front of the receiver, and came this close to snatching what would have been an easy pick-six. Ultimately, it was probably for the best that he dropped the pass. A game-ending interception return for a touchdown would have been more excitement than this particular game could handle.