Five numbers that will make you squint after the Saints’ 28-13 win over the New England Patriots.
21 - The End of an Incredible Streak
When the New Orleans Saints invaded Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Sunday with designs on winning the game, I am not certain that the players knew the type of streak that they were about to end: with the loss against New Orleans on Sunday, it had been 21 years since the New England Patriots had lost their first two regular season home games. The Pats lost their home-opener to the Miami Dolphins, before winning against the Jets in New York in week two. On September 17, 2000 the Pats lost their second consecutive home game to start the year, a 21-13 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings, on their way to a 5-11 season. The following year of course, New England would go 11-5, win the Super Bowl and start that little-known 20-year Tom Brady era.
7 - Lucky Number
The Saints drafted Malcolm Jenkins out of Ohio State in 2009, the year they won the Super Bowl. Since then, Jenkins has had an incredible career, winning two championships, one with the Saints and another with the Philadelphia Eagles. In his 12-year roaming the NFL defensive backfields, Jenkins has amassed 21 interceptions, and an outstanding seven pick sixes, the last of which happened on the very first play of the second half of the Saints’ win against the Patriots this past Sunday. Good to have you back in Black and Gold, Jenks.
1 - Number One for Number One
Hey look who decided to join the party? After catching a combined 3 passes for 22 yards and zero touchdowns in the first two games of the season, Saints’ wide receiver Marquez Callaway finally showed up big for the Saints on Sunday against the New England Patriots, catching the very first touchdown of his young NFL career. He finished the game with 4 catches on 5 targets, and that all important score, which gave New Orleans a 14-0 lead just before halftime.
2.78 - Nowhere to Run
Let’s get nerdy. While total passing yards can be misleading when teams are trailing and air it out 50-plus times in an effort to catch up, rushing yards-per-play often mean a lot more in an NFL game when teams are either trying to establish the run or salt a game away. Well, through three games, the New Orleans Saints are allowing only 2.78 yards-per-rush to their opponents. This ranks second in the entire NFL, behind only the Carolina Panthers (2.65 yards-per-rush allowed). Before you make the argument that this number is the result of the Saints being well ahead in both the game against the Green Bay Packers and the one against the Patriots, where those teams were forced to pass the ball more, consider that New Orleans limited the Carolina Panthers to a meager 2.7 yard-per-rush average, in a loss. This was with All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey playing the entire game for the Panthers. That is an outstanding statistic for a Saints’ defensive line that is still missing one of its best defensive tackles in David Onyemata.
4.84 - Gimme That
Let’s get nerdier! Through three games, the Saints have tallied 6 interceptions, putting them on pace for 34 interceptions on the season. While that sounds like an unattainable number, here is one number that the Saints have already reached: New Orleans has picked off 4.84% of all the passes (124) thrown by their opponents through three games. That interception rate ranks second in the NFL, behind only the New England Patriots (6.17%). This 2021 Saints’ defense is about to be something special this year.
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