The New Orleans Saints took care of business quickly and decisively on the road against what had looked to be an inferior opponent. The Saints ended this game by halftime, taking a 35-7 lead into the break. Offensively, they dominated from the game's opening drive, never punted once, and rolled to 45 points and 456 yards in three quarters, finishing with 509 total yards. Defensively, New Orleans once again struggled on the opening drive, allowing Cincinnati to tie the game at 7 early. After that, the Saints defense shut down the home team, allowing only nine first downs and 209 total yards after the Bengals opening drive. New Orleans intercepted quarterback Andy Dalton twice, and sacked him four times. The Saints did what dominant teams are supposed to do, and that is dispatch a lesser team quickly. Here are some of the best performances from the Saints most emphatic win of the season.
This game had the potential for a dominating performance by the Saints running backs, and that's exactly what happened. Ingram's play in particular stood out, as he rushed for 104 yards on just 13 carries and added 58 receiving yards and a touchdown. It was his best statistical output of the season, and affirmed that the veteran back is still an extremely dangerous weapon within the New Orleans offense.
'Brees doesn't play well in windy conditions and cold weather.' We've all heard the accusations, however inaccurate. Brees carved up a depleted Bengals defense, completing 22 of his 25 attempts for 265 yards and three touchdowns, also rushing for another score in just three quarters of action. One of Brees' incompletions was a throwaway, while another was a drop. He picked apart Cincinnati's defense at every level, decisively hitting seven different receivers and continuing to play like an M.V.P. candidate. Oh, and by the way, Brees' 3 scoring passes moved him past Brett Favre into second place on the all-time passing touchdown list with 509. How has this man never won a Most Valuable Player award??
Anzalone is playing better and better each week, further strengthening an already imposing New Orleans front seven. One week after making an acrobatic interception against the Rams that helped change that game's momentum, the second year linebacker again had a standout performance. He finished with six tackles, second on the team to Demario Davis, played well in coverage, and helped a strong overall defensive effort. Anzalone also showcased his skills as a pass rusher, first by heavily pressuring quarterback Andy Dalton into a sack by Alex Okafor and David Onyemata in the second quarter, then with a crushing sack of his own in the third quarter. Anzalone has developed into a capable every down defender, and has begun to match the standout play the team has gotten at the position from Davis and A.J. Klein, giving the Saints their best trio of linebackers in quite some time.
New Orleans once again imposed their will on the opposition from the onset of the game. The Saints took the opening drive 15 plays and 75 yards for a touchdown, holding on to the ball for 8:30, and controlled the pace of the game throughout. Quarterback Drew Brees once again was not sacked, and barely hurried on any of his passes. The Saints rushed for 244 yards as a team, and held the ball for nearly 40 minutes while bulldozing their way for 33 first downs. They didn't miss a beat when veteran Jermon Bushrod replaced left tackle Terron Armstead, who left with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. While New Orleans continues to get amazing play from their quarterback and skill positions, the play of their powerful and athletic offensive line have taken over football games, making them nearly impossible to defend.
This was a dominating performance on both offense and defense by one of the NFL's most balanced teams at the midseason point. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins and end Cameron Jordan added a sack each and continued to play like All-Pros. The team's secondary had one of their finest outings of the year. Safety Marcus Williams had an interception, and added numerous standout plays on the back end. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple, who also had an interception, eliminated big passing plays. Alvin Kamara had 102 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on just 16 touches. Michael Thomas added two scores of his own, while catching 8 passes for 70 yards. So much for a letdown after big wins against Minnesota and Los Angeles....NEXT!
Who had the most dominating performance in the Saints thrashing of Cincinnati?
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The offensive line