Foxborough, Mass. – If not a bounce-back game after two straight losses, the New Orleans Saints at least needed a victory that would lift the cloud of consecutive losses.
After dominating the New England Patriots 34-0 on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, New Orleans (3-2) got everything it could have imagined while playing its most complete game of the season. No significant breakdowns led to the most lopsided home loss for the Patriots under Coach Bill Belichick, and gave the Saints a bit of momentum in preparation for their next encounter, against the Houston Texans.
OFFENSE: The best number the Saints posted – other than the season-high point total which in part was attributable to 27 points on offense – were 3 of 4 in the red zone. Quarterback Derek Carr threw two touchdown passes and running back Alvin Kamara ran for one and while the Saints didn't overwhelm with an offensive show while totaling 304 yards, they were balanced and effective. Carr completed 18 of 26 for 183 yards and no interceptions, with two sacks, and the running game accounted for 136 yards on 41 carries. That kind of balance, dedication and turnover-free football is a winning combination on most days. Bonus: Kamara's 2-yard touchdown run made him the franchise all-time leader with 73 touchdowns.
DEFENSE: It was a dominant performance. New England has struggled offensively this season, and the Saints didn't allow a get-right game against them. The Patriots finished with 156 yards and were stopped on 13 of 14 third-down attempts, and both fourth-down attempts. New Orleans forced three turnovers – interceptions by safety Tyrann Mathieu and linebacker Pete Werner, and a fumble recovery by defensive end Cameron Jordan – and produced two sacks, four quarterback hits and nine passes defensed. Front to back, it was a complete defensive performance in which New Orleans never let up. And the unit even scored (Mathieu's 27-yard interception return for a touchdown), which always tilts a game in a team's favor.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Across-the-board steady in coverage and returns; punter Lou Hedley had a picturesque 55-yarder that was fair caught at the Patriots' 5-yard line. But the standout showing was on the field goal unit, where rookie Blake Grupe made 54- and 53-yard field goals. That unit has been better than average all season (Grupe has made 11 of 12), and it continues to be a bright spot.
Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the New England Patriots in Week 5 of the 2023 NFL season.