The New Orleans Saints and their fans are likely still reveling in the face of a big 49-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Sean Payton’s offense picked Gregg Williams’ defense apart, and the second half adjustments made by Dennis Allen helped keep Jared Goff in check after a big first half.
Here’s the Pro Football Focus grades from the top players of the game.
Offense: Michael Thomas (87.3), Josh Hill (85.1), John Kuhn (84.1), Zach Strief (82.5), Drew Brees (79.6), Coby Fleener (79.5)
Defense: Cameron Jordan (85.4), Kenny Vaccaro (83.4), Vonn Bell (82.9), Nick Fairley (82.0), Jairus Byrd (81.5)
The Good Stuff (from Pro Football Focus)
- Season-low snap count for Coby Fleener - he was on the field for only 18 plays versus 57 for Josh Hill, who had what was easily his best game of the year, grade-wise. His six targets and six catches were both career-highs, and he also stood out in the run game, making multiple key blocks linebackers Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron.
- Rough day for the interior offensive line against Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams front. Max Unger and guards Jahri Evans and Andrus Peat each graded negatively in both pass protection and run blocking. The trio allowed 9 combined pressures and multiple run stops.
- Zach Strief and Terron Armstead each had one negatively graded snap in pass protection, although Armstead only lasted 50 snaps against the Rams. Through 12 weeks, Strief's overall grade (87.0) ranks third among right tackles and ninth among all OTs.
- Mark Ingram broke a season-high 7 tackles rushing and gained an average of 4.9 yards after contact on his 14 carries.
- Drew Brees finished with a 146.4 passer rating when throwing from a clean pocket versus 92.0 under pressure (36.8 percent of his dropbacks). He was perfect on passes aimed behind or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, while missing only three of his 10 attempts that travelled more than 10 yards in the air.
- The Saints defense missed only three tackles against the Rams, while the offense forced 14 misses.
- Kenny Vaccaro finished with a season-high grade, in part due to his 3rd quarter interception and a team-high four defensive stops. He spent 33 snaps aligned in the slot or at outside corner.
- The Saints pass rush generated pressure on 51 percent of QB Jared Goff's dropbacks, the highest rate of any defense in Week 12, through Sunday's games. Goff completed only 53.3 percent of his passes on those plays, versus 70.6% without pressure.
- Cameron Jordan was the Saints' highest-graded defender once again, converting 33 rushes into six pressures and picking up two stops in the run game. He spent all but two snaps lined up on the defensive left side, opposite RT Rob Havenstein and RG Cody Wichmann.
- Sheldon Rankins bounced back from two below-average games in Weeks 10 and 11 with a slightly above-average display against the Rams (72.2 overall). He compiled just one pressure in 28 pass rushes, but that was a second-quarter sack-forced fumble, and he also made several positive plays against guard Jamon Brown in run defense.
- Over the past two games, Dennis Allen’s defense has allowed just 143 yards to opposing offenses in the second half. It’s been back-to-back performances in which the Saints held opponents under 100 yards (83 - Panthers, 60 - Rams).
- Sticking to defense, the Saints have just allowed 3 points in the last four second half quarters.
- Entering Monday Night Football, Michael Thomas sits 14th in the NFL with 789 yards receiving. Thomas is T-5th in receiving touchdowns (7), T-7th in receptions (73), and is averaging 12.1 yards per catch.
- After trailing Matt Ryan for most of the season, Drew Brees continues to hold onto the top spot in passing yardage with 3,587 yards. Brees reached 30 passing touchdowns for the season, which is his ninth consecutive season with at least 30 or more. He’s currently tied with Brett Favre and Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history.
- Brees had his 60th consecutive passing touchdown at home, which continues to be a NFL record.