One of the biggest story lines around the NFL this week was whether New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was going to see the field against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, or wait until after the bye week to make his return. Brees and Coach Sean Payton made the decision for Brees to start Sunday, Oct. 27 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and Brees wasted no time shaking off the rust, connecting with nine Saints receivers and passing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
"We talked about this decision, and we really just paid attention to the doctors," Payton said. "We weren't going to be careless with it."
The result: a dominant 31-9 victory, the team's sixth consecutive, improving New Orleans' record to 7-1 heading into the bye. The Saints sit atop the NFC South, holding a two game lead on the Carolina Panthers (4-2) in the division and are second in the NFC playoff picture behind the San Francisco 49ers (6-0). The Panthers and 49ers played in a late afternoon game Sunday.
Without star running back Alvin Kamara for the second week in a row, Saints running back Latavius Murray stepped up in a big way again, carrying for 102 yards, surpassing 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Murray also posted a career-high in receiving yards (55) on 12 receptions against the Cardinals (3-4-1) and had two touchdowns including his first-ever receiving touchdown. Murray has eclipsed 5,000 career total yards from scrimmage.
With his fourth reception Sunday, Saints wideout Michael Thomas surpassed tight end Jimmy Graham for fourth on the club's all-time receptions list. Thomas finished with 11 receptions for 112 receiving yards and one touchdown. Thomas now has 395 career receptions. Brees' return allowed Payton to use Taysom Hill more extensively as a position player and he delivered with three catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.
With a mix of run and pass, New Orleans controlled the time of possession 37:59 to Arizona's 22:01.
"We sustained a lot of really long drives throughout the game," Brees said. "That was a big emphasis coming into this game, knowing the explosiveness of their team on the other side."
While Brees, Thomas and Murray shined on the offensive side of the ball, Cam Jordan and company continued their dominance on defense against rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall selection in the 2019 NFL draft, Kyler Murray. The Saints defense got after the opposing quarterback yet again this week, recording three sacks. Twice the Cardinals went for it on fourth-and-short in Saints territory and twice the Cardinals were denied. The Saints defense has held their last five opponents all under 300 yards of total offense:
Dallas - 257 yards
Tampa Bay - 252
Jacksonville - 226
Chicago - 252
Arizona - 237
For complete Saints-Cardinals stats click here.
Check out photos of the on-field action between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals in Week 8 of the 2019 NFL season.