What the New Orleans Saints offense had been giving opposing defenses in moderation, it gave to the Rams a bit more liberally in a 27-20 victory Sunday.
Namely, the Saints unleased upon Los Angeles the kind of two-quarterback approach that the Rams likely knew was coming, but possibly weren't prepared for in frequency. And, perhaps, it's an approach that could be taken again when New Orleans (4-7) faces San Francisco (6-4) on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Andy Dalton, the starter, took 40 snaps and completed 21 of 25 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception. Taysom Hill, the hammering jack-of-all trades, took the other 17 and completed one of three passes for 14 yards, and ran nine times for a team-leading 52 yards as the Saints totaled 323 yards of offense.
On each scoring drive for the Saints – three touchdowns and two field goals – each quarterback took multiple snaps as New Orleans attempted to maximize efficiency. On one, they alternated each snap and on another drive, in the third quarter, running back Alvin Kamara was added to the mix as he took a direct snap with Dalton flanked out to his right. Hill had opened that series on first down, Dalton took the snap on second down, Kamara took the next snap and then Dalton had two straight, the last one resulting in a touchdown pass to Chris Olave.
"It's just the way we play football here," Dalton said. "You don't go in with any kind of different mind-set or anything like that, you just wait to see what's going to happen. You could be in first down in a completely different situation, or you could be in second down, third down, it just kind of depends. You just have to understand the flow of the game and be ready to go."
Hill possibly played his most snaps in a game at quarterback, without being the starter, since joining the Saints.
"I think that's just the way that this particular game went," he said. "From a call-sheet standpoint, that could have been any game this year."
Which means that there's no assurance that the call sheet Sunday will be the same as last Sunday's. But last Sunday's was among the most effective when New Orleans has played its two quarterbacks, and it likely was the most frequent that they've been used that way.
"I don't think we went into the series saying we're going to switch every single play," Coach Dennis Allen said. "I think that's just how the situation played out and the play calls that we liked in those situations. I thought (offensive coordinator) Pete (Carmichael) did a nice job of changing some things up and keeping the defense off balance a little bit. I think that's something that we have in Taysom where we can kind of do some of those things.
"You put a plan together that you think is going to work. I think that's what we did in this gameplan. I don't think we looked at it any differently and said, 'We've just got to just throw caution into the wind and try a bunch of crap and see if it works.' We put a plan together that we felt like could be effective and I think overall, it was."
FAMILIAR FACES: Several Saints returned to practice after multiple weeks out with injuries, including cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore (abdomen, out the last six games) and Bradley Roby (ankle, four games), and running back Mark Ingram (knee, three games). Also returning were defensive ends Cam Jordan (eye) and Marcus Davenport (calf), and left tackle James Hurst (concussion).
"There's a lot of guys that are guys that we were counting on this season, so any time you can get them back out at practice, for whatever amount you're able to get them back out there, it brings a lift to the team," Allen said. "I think we've got to see how the week plays out, see how they do in practice and then we'll have a better idea as the week goes on."
STAY DOWN: Hill attempted to hurdle a defender during a run against the Rams. He has done it in a game before, successfully. But Sunday's against wasn't nearly as clean.
"I don't think people were too pumped about the one last week," he said, smiling. "I felt like the safety was going low on me, and I kind of got stuck in between because I felt the defensive tackle trailing, so I kind of got stuck in between where I didn't fully commit to anything. That probably wasn't the best decision. I don't think they were too pumped about it."