The New Orleans Saints won their sixth game in a row by rolling over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-10 on Sunday afternoon. The Saints had very little difficulty with their NFC South rival, driving for a field goal on their first drive, then Justin Hardee blocking a Buccaneers punt and returning it for a touchdown on the subsequent drive.
After the quick 10-0 lead, the Saints stuck to the formula that has been a staple of their winning streak: a balanced offense with a quick rhythm passing attack and an underrated running game to go along with an attacking and aggressive defense. The approach caused the frustrated Bucs to lose composure as the game went along, culminating in a fight that happened along the Tampa sideline in the 3rd quarter after a cheap shot from Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans on the Saints Marshon Lattimore from behind.
The young Saints kept their own composure, and were never seriously threatened on their way to their longest winning streak since the 2011 season. Canal Street Chronicles hands out our game balls today, along with an extra "anniversary gift".
Game Ball #1 — Alvin Kamara
Kamara was the featured back on the Saints opening drive, a surprise to some, and he responded by accounting for 25 of the 58 yards on the drive. The rookie running back stretched the Buccaneer defense ragged in the first half, putting up 101 yards from scrimmage and a team leading 5 receptions for 83 yards. That included an explosive 33-yard second quarter touchdown reception on a two minute drive to extend the New Orleans lead to 16-3 heading into halftime. Kamara added 50 yards rushing along with a rushing score in the second half, to finish with 152 total yards from scrimmage averaging 9.5 yards every time he touched the ball. He continues to present a gigantic mismatch against every defense that the Saints play
Game Ball #2 — The Offensive Line
It's time the entire line gets some love. Rookie first rounder Ryan Ramczyk again earned a top 12 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), a weekly occurrence since he's taken over right tackle duties. Andrus Peat continues to play well, sliding over to left tackle on Sunday after starter Terron Armstead aggravated an upper body injury. Josh Leribeus stepped into Peat's left guard spot and the team didn't skip a beat, teaming with center Max Unger and guard Senio Kelemete to open holes for the Saints running game and protect their veteran signal caller.
New Orleans backs Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 148 yards rushing and 5.7 yards per carry. The Saints offensive line has not only opened initial running lanes, but are using their athleticism to get into the second level of the opposing defense to push for extra yardage. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the least pressured passer in the league on Sunday, according to PFF. Brees was sacked one time, but was only pressured 3 times on his 29 attempts.
Game Ball #3 — Marshon Lattimore
The rookie cornerback takes his seemingly weekly game ball, this time for his efforts against one of the better wideouts in the league, Mike Evans. Tampa Bay's best weapon had only 1 catch for 13 yards. Lattimore teamed with fellow cornerback Ken Crawley and the rest of the Saints secondary to hold the other talented Bucs receivers in check as well. DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries combined for 4 catches and 39 yards, while Tampa's 1-2 punch at tight end, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, had only 2 receptions for 15 yards. The Buccaneers passing attack, which ranked 2nd in the league, was held to just 135 net yards passing and under 54% completion percentage.
Game Ball #4 — Alex Okafor
With apologies to Cam Jordan, Craig Robertson, A.J. Klein, and Vonn Bell, all of whom had outstanding games, it seemed like Okafor took up residency in the Tampa Bay backfield on Sunday. Okafor finished with 6 tackles, a half sack, 5 QB hits or pressures, and numerous stops of Bucs running backs for loss or minimal gain. Okafor was part of a Saints defensive effort that held Buccaneer running backs Doug Martin and Peyton Barber to just 41 yards rushing and 2.2 yards per carry. He is consistently graded as one of New Orleans top run defenders, according to PFF (Pro Football Focus), and has added a consistent pass rushing presence opposite star Cam Jordan.
Anniversary Gift Ball — Sean Payton
Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the Saints first ever win, a 31-24 defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles. We give out our anniversary gift in the way of an extra game ball to Saints coach Sean Payton, who notched his 100th career regular season victory as New Orleans coach on Sunday.
The Saints coach has been embattled in recent years, and the centerpiece of multiple rumors in the midst of 3 straight losing seasons. Now in charge of one of the youngest teams in the league, he has his squad pointed in the direction of a sixth playoff berth in his tenure. The Saints have overcome injuries to both starting offensive tackles (Ramczyk and Zach Strief), starting wideout (Willie Snead), and starting cornerback (Delvin Breaux) to put themselves in the position of contender.
After two blowout losses to begin the regular season, Payton and his coaching staff kept a young group's confidence from slipping away, and the team has gotten better every week. When a frustrated Tampa Bay team began to unravel, potentially taking the game to an ugly level, the Saints remained poised, and did not get caught up in the emotion of the moment. This team plays with intensity and grit, and is playing with a lot of fun and confidence. It is reflected by their leader.
Congratulations on No. 100, Coach Payton!
Who had your most impressive performance against Tampa Bay?
This poll is closed
The Offensive Line