Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans may have been a record breaking game for Michael Thomas, but it wasn’t all sunshine for the black and gold.
Here are two “Ups” and two “Downs” for the week 16 victory
Up: The Big Three shine
The Saints’ offensive trifecta of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara had themselves a game against the Titans.
Thomas had yet another stellar performance, finishing with 12 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown en route to setting new records.
He broke Marvin Harrison’s single season reception record of 143 receptions late in the fourth quarter when he caught his 144th reception on the season, 11th of the game, before falling just short of the endzone. Thomas would score two plays later on his 12th reception on the day.
Harrison wasn’t the only Hall of Fame inductee to have a record broken by Thomas on Sunday. Thomas broke Randy Moss’s record for receiving yards through a player’s first four seasons (5,396), and now has 5,475 yards in four seasons, with one game left to play in the current regular season.
Alvin Kamara, who had 17 touchdowns last year, 13 of which were on the ground, had only two touchdowns on the season entering Sunday’s game.
Kamara looked like himself again, rushing for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and catching 6 targets for 30 yards, finishing with 110 all purpose yards.
Fellow Kamara owners, it's been EIGHTY-FOUR YEARS! pic.twitter.com/y4Owv1SSig— dba2k (WendysMcNuggets) (@_dba2k_) December 22, 2019
Kamara scored for the first time since week 3, bursting through the defense essentially untouched for a 40 yard touchdown a minute into the second half. He would find the endzone yet again the following drive for his second score of the day.
Coming off of last week’s immaculate performance, Drew Brees had a slow start to the game.
Things began to click for Brees with just over two minutes left in the first half when he connected with Jared Cook for a 61-yard touchdown. He would find Cook in the endzone again in the third quarter for his second of three touchdowns thrown on the day.
Brees would finish with 279 yards and three touchdowns on 27 completions.
Just another successful day in the office for number 9.
Majority of the first half was a headache to watch because of the sheer number of penalties. The Saints had 11 penalties in the game, nine of which came in the first half. The 11 penalties would be for 70 yards. In the first half, the Saints had four flags for holding calls and three flags for false starts.
The Saints had 11+ penalties for the fifth time this season, and the first time since week 12. It was especially abysmal for the offense, who were flagged six times, an alarming number considering the offense was flagged four times total in the three games leading up to Sunday’s game against the Titans.
Up: Demario Davis and the pass rush
The Saints pass rush, led by Demario Davis, was felt all game by the Titans. Davis, who has been having a great season, continued to be a defensive force, finishing with 11 total tackles, two of which were for a loss of yardage and a sack. The Saints would have 8.5 tackles for a loss of yards on the day.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was facing pressure all game long from the Saints pass rush, getting sacked five times. AJ Klein has performed very well since Kiko Alonso was sidelined to injury, and continued to perform on Sunday, leading the team in sacks on the day with two to go with one tackle for a loss of yards.
The mighty Cameron Jordan had a sack as well, moving his sack total to 14.5 on the season, third most in the NFL.
The Saints lost two defensive starters to injury against the Titans. Eli Apple and Marcus Williams left with injuries and did not return. Apple, left late in the first quarter with an ankle injury while Williams left with a groin injury.
The Saints are already struggling with injuries, especially at Williams’s free safety position where 2nd stringer Saquon Hampton is on the injured reserve. As it stands, the Saints have quite a few big names sidelined to injury, making the addition of Apple and Williams to the injured even more concerning.
While they are both questionable for next week’s game against the Panthers, some big name absences for the Saints defense includes the D-line’s Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport, who are on the injured reserve while middle linebacker Kiko Alonso and strong safety Vonn Bell are out indefinitely.