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Saints lean on heavy dose of Alvin Kamara to power past Giants

The Saints are 3-1 and sitting on top of the NFC South. My, how things change.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD — The New Orleans Saints have won three straight games after defeating the New York Giants on Sunday. They’re now 3-1 on the year, and picked up their first road win in East Rutherford since the 2006 season. More importantly, they sit on top of the NFC South as division leaders.

The Giants won the coin toss and elected to defer. The first Saints offensive drive went 3-and-out, as New Orleans tried for three straight passes. They had a first down connection from Drew Brees to Michael Thomas, but it was negated by an offensive pass interference on Josh Hill. The first Giants possession was met with little resistance, as Eli Manning helped the offense go on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that finished with a 2-yard Sterling Shepard touchdown catch to put the Giants on the board.

The ensuing Saints drive was destined for another 3-and-out, but those tricky special teams saw Taysom Hill connect with Justin Hardee for a first down to extend the drive. New Orleans drove down the length of the field, with some designed plays that saw Hill catch a pass from Drew Brees and be the lead blocker on an Alvin Kamara run, but ended up having to settle on a 42-yard field goal from Wil Lutz to cut the lead to 7-3. Lutz had to kick it twice because the game clock had run out at the end of the first quarter.

The Saints defense was able to show up and force a Giants punt, and the Saints would get their second field goal of the game after a 9-play, 69-yard drive stalled out. Taysom Hill had a good 19-yard scamper on the drive, but it was extended after a really bad horse collar call on Janoris Jenkins.

Red zone inefficiency continued for the Saints, after they looked to make short work of a P.J. Williams forced fumble on Wayne Gallman, in which Marshon Lattimore returned to the Giants 11-yard line. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, the Saints got penalized on the initial field goal attempt of 27 yards, and had to re-kick from 37 yards out to take a 9-7 lead.

The Giants would have another 3-and-out, which saw the Saints get some luck after Brandon Tate muffed the punt return but ended up recovering it off a tip up from Ray-Ray Armstrong. Once again, the Saints offense would march down the field and get into a position to take it into the end zone, but a bad drop by Alvin Kamara and a catch that Benjamin Watson couldn’t hold onto resulted in another short Wil Lutz field goal to put the Saints up 12-7 entering halftime.

To start the second half, the Giants picked up one first down, but the drive stalled out and ended up putting, to the displeasure of their fans. The Saints would finally cash in on this drive, going 80 yards in 7 plays for their first touchdown of the afternoon. Big plays to Michael Thomas, Benjamin Watson, and a B.W. Webb personal foul penalty helped set them up inside the 10-yard line, and Alvin Kamara would cap it off on a 9-yard rush.

The Giants somewhat woke up, going 75 yards in 10 plays, getting big plays from Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, but the bend, don’t break Saints defense held them to a 33-yard Aldrick Rojas field goal to trim the Saints lead to 19-10 late in the third quarter. Vonn Bell made an outstanding pass breakup at the goal line against Rhett Ellison to negate a touchdown.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Saints were able to get off the field and force a punt, thanks to Demario Davis notching his second sack of the game. The Giants were put in a bad spot from a 7-yard tackle for loss from Marcus Davenport. The Saints turned in a 15-play drive that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock that ended in another Alvin Kamara touchdown to put the Saints up 26-10. The biggest takeaway was the Saints finding their third down offense, as they converted several drives.

The Giants would add a late touchdown via Saquon Barkley and add a 2-point conversion to cut the Saints lead to 26-18 with 3:44 left in the game on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, and they even got the Saints pinned at their own 3-yard line after Ted Ginn Jr. muffed the kick return. Drew Brees came out passing immediately, connecting with Austin Carr for a first down. A big pass interference call on the Giants on a 3rd and 9 gave the team a first down, and Alvin Kamara would add the dagger on a 49-yard touchdown run to put the game away at 33-18.

The Saints have an extra day in Week 5, as they host the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football.