The New Orleans Saints were expected to rout the New York Jets Sunday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but the final score of 31-19 was not indicative of how close the game really was throughout the second half. On a day where the Saints had 3 turnovers, including two deep within Jets territory, the New Orleans defense allowed just 3 points from New York following the giveaways. The Saints again struggled on 3rd downs, converting just 3 of 10 opportunities, and continue to have problems with untimely penalties, commiting a number which continued New York drives. On a day when Ted Ginn Jr. was sidelined with a rib injury, the Saints complimentary weapons again failed to provide a big contribution, leaving New Orleans to rely on a good defensive performance and the talents of their Big Three, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara.
Good teams are able to find a way to win even when they play below capabilities, and that's exactly what New Orleans did, holding on to first place in the NFC South and setting up an epic showdown with the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday. Here are a few of our Game Ball rewards out of a New Orleans win that edges them closer to their first playoff berth since 2013.
GAME BALL #1 — Mark Ingram
Ingram became just the fourth running back in franchise history to eclipse the 1,000 yard rushing barrier in consecutive seasons, joining George Rogers, Ricky Williams, and Deuce McAllister as the only backs to accomplish the feat. Ingram began the day by taking a screen pass for 54 yards down the right sideline on third play of the game to set up a Saints field goal. He then caught 3 more passes for 26 yards on the Saints second drive, culminating it with a 1-yd. touchdown run for a 10-0 lead. Ingram had 5 receptions for 77 yards in the first half alone, but was held to just 24 yards rushing until late into the 4th quarter. With 1:42 left in the game, and New Orleans holding on to a 24-19 lead, Ingram exploded through a hole on the right side and raced for a 50-yd. touchdown run to cap the game. He had 151 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns on the day, and now has a career high 1,045 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season, undoubtedly one of the NFL's most underrated running backs.
GAME BALL #2 — Michael Thomas
Thomas was a microcosm of the entire team's afternoon. The second year wideout led all receivers with 9 catches for 93 yards on the day, including a pivotal 4th quarter touchdown, and again dominating defensive backs physically. Thomas made a nice athletic play on a 1st quarter drive, converting a 4th down catch that was initially ruled a touchdown, but correctly overruled to put the ball at the 1-yd. line, where Ingram scored on the next play. At the end of the third quarter, Thomas made a beautiful grab of a perfectly thrown 32-yd. pass from Drew Brees to apparently give New Orleans a 24-13 lead. Unfortunately, replays showed that Thomas' left foot landed partially out of bounds, and the drive ended just two plays later with Brandon Coleman's second fumble of the game. Thomas then took over the game on the Saints next drive midway through the 4th quarter. During a nine play, 64 yard drive, Thomas caught 5 passes for 50 yards, including a 17-yd. reception on a 3rd and 7 and the touchdown catch to cap the drive. Thomas now has 94 receptions for 1,085 yards and five score on the year, and joined Odell Beckham as the only two players in NFL history to have over 90 receptions in their first two professional seasons.
GAME BALL #3 — Marshon Lattimore
Lattimore appears to be completely recovered from the ankle injury that caused him to miss most of three games, and limited him in a showdown with Atlanta's Julio Jones a week ago. Lattimore earned an 85.4 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), which placed him 4th among all cornerbacks. He shut down New York's leading receiver, Robby Anderson, and made numerous pass break ups to end Jets drives. Lattimore's acrobatic interception of New York's Bryce Petty put a finishing touch on the Saints victory, another win built more on the strength of a stout New Orleans defensive unit. His upcoming rematch with the Falcons' Jones next week should be every bit as entertaining as the game itself between these two long time and bitter rivals
GAME BALL #4 — Cam Jordan
The defensive leader of the New Orleans Saints was at it again Sunday afternoon. On a day that the young Saints played uninspired football at times, the veteran Jordan led by example. Even though he was unable to add to his team leading 10 sacks for the year, Jordan was a handful for Jets offensive linemen all afternoon, earning a league best 93 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF) among edge rushers. As always, Jordan showed his superior athleticism as well, batting down numerous pass attempts, including a break up of a key 2-pt conversion attempt in the second half. Despite constant facing double, sometimes triple team blocking, Jordan continues to be one of the most disruptive defensive ends in the entire league.
And now, on to a much anticipated rematch with the loathsome Atlanta Falcons. Let Falcons Hate Week begin....
Who had your best performance in the Saints win over the Jets?
This poll is closed