The New Orleans Saints won their third straight game, and second consecutive on the road, with a 33-18 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday. With the win, the 3-1 Saintsmove into sole possession of first place in the NFC South over the idle Carolina Panthers. New Orleans won without having to rely on statistically strong performances from quarterback Drew Brees or wideout Michael Thomas. The Saints instead got an improved performance from their struggling defense. They allowed the Giants just 239 yards after their initial scoring drive, sacking Eli Manning 3 times, forcing two turnovers, and controlling the Giants playmakers. New Orleans still left some points on the board in the first half, and the Saints complimentary targets still have not shown a consistent ability to produce if Thomas or Kamara are controlled. Nevertheless, New Orleans still had control of the game throughout the final three quarters. Here are the game balls from this important conference win on the road.
Kamara takes his weekly place among our game ball recipients with his best rushing output of the season. He carried the ball 19 times for 134 yards and a team record tying three rushing touchdowns. He also added 47 yards receiving on a team-high five receptions. Kamara's 181 total yards were nearly 47% of the Saints total output for the day. The New Orleans game plan again called for attacking the defense on the perimeter with their rush attempts, hoping to get their second year superstar in space. Kamara also showed the ability to pick up tough yards between the tackles as well against a rugged New York defense. When more special teams buffoonery from Ted Ginn Jr. caused the Saints to be pinned at their 3-yd. line in a one score game, it was Kamara that saved the game. He would have four carries for 61 yards on a 6-play, 97-yd. march, and clinched the game on a 49 yard touchdown dash over the right side.
Davis' play is improving with each week, and is showing why his free agent addition this offseason had so many excited. The team's leading tackler had 11 more stops this game, including 2 tackles for loss, and 2 monstrous second half sacks on blitzes up the middle. Davis led a defensive charge that hurried and harassed Giants quarterback Eli Manning all afternoon, as well as controlling Saquon Barkley, the talented rookie running back. Outside of a 28-yd. rush due to broken outside containment, Barkley averaged only two yards per rush, and was held to 100 total yards on 16 touches. Davis has added athleticism to an improved New Orleans linebacking corps, and looks to be emerging into a playmaker for the defense.
The "swiss army knife" of the New Orleans team is more of a trick gadget than a primary offensive weapon, but one that seems to make plays on a weekly basis. Hill completed a pass to Justin Hardee on a fake punt that led to the Saints first score, and would have had his first career touchdown pass later in the first half, if not for a Kamara drop at the goal line. He also caught a pass, provided some key blocks in short yardage, and rushed for 28 yards. He is the team's second leading rusher on the season, and coach Sean Payton has been showing increasing confidence with his play calls when Hill is in the game.
Taylor Stallworth and Tyeler Davison
The Saints were expected to pressure Manning with an outside rush from Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport against New York's struggling offensive tackles. While both Jordan and Davenport had solid games, recording multiple tackles for loss, it was the play of the Saints interior line that dominated. Davison returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with injury. He, Stallworth, and Sheldon Rankins stonewalled the Giants inside run attempts all afternoon, and provided good push on the New York pass pocket. Stallworth and Davison combined for five tackles, but also allowed the Saints linebackers to flow freely through the play to create havoc for the New York offense. Davison's 4th quarter sack of Manning forced a fumble that was recovered by Stallworth, and sealed an important road victory for the defending NFC South champions.
When you scoop up a fumble and are on the way to a sure touchdown, only to get pushed out of bounds by one of the slowest quarterbacks in the league, you may not be worthy of a game ball. Still, Lattimore provided exemplary pass coverage and physicality all afternoon. He was primarily responsible for holding Odell Beckham Jr. to just 59 yards in five catches, including minus four yards in the first half, visibly frustrating the Giants star. Fellow corner Ken Crawley still had his struggles, and New York wideout Sterling Shepard caught 10 passes, a touchdown, and a 2-pt. conversion, but the Saints secondary prevented any big plays over the top. Lattimore, last season's defensive rookie of year, will need to continue this kind of lockdown, physical performance if the New Orleans pass defense is going to repeat it's 2017 success.
Who had the Saints best performance in their victory over New York?
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