The New Orleans Saints won their sixth game in a row on Sunday with a 31-9 romp over the Arizona Cardinals. New Orleans won with another smothering performance on defense. Rookie defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson did a standout job on future Hall of Fame Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the slot, and the rest of the secondary again gave up catches and yards grudgingly. The Saints made the Cardinals run game non-existent with a physical and swarming effort from it's line and linebackers. Offensively, New Orleans rolled up 510 yards, and maintained possession by going 7 of 12 on third downs. The Saints welcomed their legend back at quarterback, and continued to hum along efficiently despite the absence of three other starters. Here were some of the best performances from their early Halloween tricking of Arizona.
Thomas' showdown with Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was one of the juiciest individual matchups leading up to this game. The fourth year Saints wideout clearly got the better of the battle this day, catching all 11 of his targets for 112 yards and a touchdown. Most of those receptions were against the coverage of Peterson, who attempted to shadow the Saints star most of the day. The Arizona defensive back did have an interception, but it was on a poorly thrown pass while covering someone other than Thomas. Peterson wilted under the physicality of Thomas, who was used on a variety of slants and crossing patterns as he once again shined after the catch. It was the receiver's 13th consecutive game with at least five receptions, a streak more impressive considering that he has made a mockery of some of the NFL's top cornerbacks.
Murray again took on the bulk of the snaps with Alvin Kamara sidelined by injury. Murray once again responded with a dominant performance. He ran for 102 yards with a touchdown, and picked up 55 yards receiving with another score on 9 receptions. Murray has played terrific over the last three weeks, more than picking up the slack for the injured Kamara. He has run with power between the tackles with a good burst in the open field, and has shown great vision and elusiveness on screens and check down passes. Murray has kept the New Orleans offense productive and balanced while Kamara has been hobbled. A frightening 1-2 combination for the rest of the NFL once he returns after the bye.
Peat keyed an offensive line that didn't allow their quarterback to be sacked, and plowed the way for their running backs to average 5.7 yards per carry. The mammoth left guard showcased nice athleticism on screen passes, as well as pulling to take out opposing linebackers and defensive linemen. The entire Saints offensive line again dominated a game, imposing their will on the Cardinals front seven and allowing them to do anything they pleased offensively.
Jordan had one of the Saints three sacks for the game, and flushed Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray from the pocket several times. Only Murray's athleticism prevented the Saints defensive end from getting 2-3 additional sacks. Jordan perfectly played Murray and running back Chase Edmonds on a 3rd and short run/pass option in the 3rd quarter to defuse the play. That set up a huge 4th down stop which put the offense in position for a decisive score. Jordan and his defensive front seven obliterated Arizona's offensive line, and held them to only 40 yards rushing.
The Saints defensive coordinator has done a standout job all season. His unit has played dominant football at all three levels against both the run and the pass. The Cardinals managed just 237 total yards and only three field goals on Sunday. It was the fifth straight game that New Orleans has held their opponent to less than 260 yards, and third game this season of 10 points or less. Allen's mix of blitz and coverage packages flustered Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray as the game went along, and the entire defense again played well prepared and with high intensity. The entire squad is playing at an elite level, capable of winning games by themselves.
You didn't think he'd be left out, did you? Brees returned to the lineup for the first time since week two, completing 34 of 43 passes for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did throw one interception on an ill-advised pass in the third quarter, and poor clock awareness (along with a penalty) cost the Saints a score at the end of the first half. Otherwise, the 40-yr. old Brees showed no rust in his return from thumb surgery. He was flawless and decisive through his reads, getting passes to his receivers on the move and spreading the ball around expertly. His Houdini-like escape from a free rusher to complete a pass to Josh Hill on the Saints opening drive electrified the whole team. The play was a microcosm of Brees' fierce competitive nature that put him back on the field weeks ahead of schedule from surgery. Teddy Bridgewater deserves a ton of credit for his high level of play over the previous five contests. The re-entry of Drew Brees into a Saints lineup that has been so complete in nearly every phase though, could be a Halloween nightmare for the rest of the NFL that lasts through February.
Who had the most impressive performance in the Saints blowout of Arizona?
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