Orchard Park, N.Y. – You got the feeling you were watching something special Sunday. But you had no idea how special it would become for the New Orleans Saints.
In winning their seventh straight game, the Saints (7-2) hammered the Bills 47-10 at New Era Field in a way that was as decisive and dominating as the score suggests, if not more so. New Orleans continues to lead the NFC South Division because it continues to play a brand of football where one unit feeds off the other, one player feeds off his teammate, one play feeds into another and another and before you know it, the team has posted another win. Sunday's victory was satisfying on just about every level imaginable.
OFFENSE:The Saints set a franchise single-game record with six rushing touchdowns and I don't care how many times you read that, or how many times you see it posted, or how many times you watch it on the highlights, it will remain one of the most impressive things you'll ever see. The offensive line was so thoroughly dominant that New Orleans had its way with the Bills – the Saints never punted, posted 32 first downs and hogged the ball for 41:23 of a 60-minute game. Additionally, the line cleared the path for two 100-yard rushers (Mark Ingram, with 21 carries for 131 yards and three touchdowns; and Alvin Kamara, who added 12 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown) and a 100-yard receiver (Michael Thomashad nine catches for 117 yards). The team hadn't had two 100-yard rushers in the same game since Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister in 2006, and it's the first time in franchise history that New Orleans has had the combination of two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver. Even when Drew Breestried to throw a touchdown, the blocking turned out to be so good that he ran seven yards for a score (left tackle Terron Armsteadwas his personal protector). New Orleans scored 47 points and rolled up 482 yards, and Brees didn't have a touchdown pass and threw for less than 200 yards (184). It was the kind of performance that leaves you speechless.
DEFENSE:Truthfully, if the Saints hadn't run for six touchdowns and set a franchise record, we'd be showering the defense with more accolades. It has been the tone-setter during the seven-game winning streak, and Sunday's performance fell right in line with what we've come to expect of it now: Only 198 yards allowed and a late, cosmetic touchdown. Buffalo gained 73 of its yards in the first quarter and after that, the Saints shut down the Bills. LeSean McCoy had a 36-yard run on Buffalo's first possession; he had 13 yards on his other seven carries. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins(an interception and 27-yard return, a sack, two tackles, a quarterback hit and two tackles for loss) probably had his best game this season, and the defense was able to function well after losing starting linebacker A.J. Kleinto a left ankle injury. The Saints now have allowed 86 points on defense in their seven-game winning streak, and just five touchdown passes, and the play-makers are coming from every level, front to back.
SPECIAL TEAMS:Other than a missed point-after attempt by Wil Lutz, there were no negatives. And if that's the only blemish that the Saints have on a given Sunday, considering the way the offense and defense are playing, they can live with that. Punter Thomas Morsteaddidn't have a single attempt against Buffalo, and while nothing special happened with the returns, no attempts to field punts or kickoffs ended up on the turf. After watching the Saints bobble a few punts in the previous few weeks, that's a sigh of relief. The biggest sigh of relief was the news that running back Daniel Lascohad movement in his extremities after suffering a spinal injury while making a tackle in kickoff coverage in the second quarter. He was taken to a Buffalo hospital, where he underwent further testing and was being attended to by Dr. Michael Hartman, the Saints' team doctor. But postgame reports were that Lasco was responding well to testing. Alone, that made it a successful day for the unit.