Another week, another eye-opening victory for the New Orleans Saints.
It’s nine victories in a row for the NFL’s hottest team after a 48-7 thrashing of the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
This rout came a week after a 51-14 victory at Cincinnati, which came a week after a 45-35 defeat of the previously unbeaten Los Angles Rams, which started a Saints-record total of 144 points scored during a three-game stretch. This is the first time New Orleans has scored 45 points in three consecutive games.
Next up is a visit from the Atlanta Falcons on Thanksgiving night, though right now it doesn’t seem to matter who’s providing the opposition – not the defending Super Bowl champions, not the last undefeated team in the NFL, not a pair of other divisional leaders.
“They were just in the way,” Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas said of the Eagles. “They were the next team up and we just had to do what we do. Regardless of who it is, we just had to come out there and play Saints football.”
Speaking of divisional leaders, New Orleans now has a three-game lead on second-place Carolina in the NFC South after the Panthers lost at Detroit, 20-19, on Sunday.
The Saints victory was every bit as thorough as the score suggests.
Drew Brees passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns even though his completion percentage (73 on 22 of 30) was lower than his 78-plus percentage coming in.
“When you take care of the football,” Brees said, “when you convert third downs, when you maximize your opportunities in the red zone, that is winning football.
“Control the ball, control time of possession. If we just continue to create the sense of urgency each and every week on making sure we accomplish those things, then good things will happen.”
Thomas (four catches, 92 yards and a touchdown) became the first New Orleans player to have three 1,000-yard receiving seasons to start his career even though rookie Tre’Quan Smith (10 catches, 157 yards, one touchdown) was the most productive of the eight receivers that Brees connected with.
“It was going to happen eventually, right?” Thomas said of the 1,000-yard threshold.
The added attention the Eagles paid to Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara created opportunities for Smith and he took advantage.
“Our offense is already explosive,” running back Alvin Kamara said, “but when you get guys you don’t expect to make plays make plays, it is fun.”
Mark Ingram II had his second consecutive 100-yard game, finishing with 103 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
As is becoming the case more and more each week, the New Orleans defense is coming close to matching the offense’s level of play. The Saints had three interceptions – the first of the season by cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and two by reserve safety Chris Banjo – and sacked Carson Wentz three times.
Philadelphia had just 58 rushing yards and 196 total yards as it converted 3 of 10 third downs and failed on both of its fourth-down conversion attempts.
“It is just starting to come together,” defensive end Alex Okafor said. “A lot of it we have to give to our offense obviously because they make teams attack us differently, but we just take it upon ourselves to be as stout as possible and it is finally starting to show.”
The Saints’ 41-point margin of victory was the largest against a defending Super Bowl champion.
“This is a different season,” Wentz said. “That’s the easy comparison – to compare us to last year and what we did and those thing, but this is a different team.”