Indianapolis – The New Orleans Saints on Sunday were what the New Orleans Saints believe they can be at all times, a complimentary football team that mixes explosive offensive plays with efficient defense to produce victories.
Sunday's 38-27 decision over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium was a good portion of all that, and the Saints ended their losing streak at two games while evening their record at 4-4.
OFFENSE: In their best offensive showing of the season, the Saints were 3 of 4 in the red zone, totaled 511 yards, rolled up 24 first downs and were successful on half of their third-down attempts. Big-time performances by quarterback Derek Carr(19 of 27 for 310 passing yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions), receiver Rashid Shaheed (three catches for 153 yards and a touchdown), running back Alvin Kamara (110 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns) and all-purpose threat Taysom Hill (63 rushing yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, and a 44-yard completion to Shaheed), overshadowed a more-than-solid performance by the offensive line., which paved the way for 161 rushing yards. The Saints' offense has been needing a breakout game, and it got one in its highest-scoring game this season.
DEFENSE: Here's what the defense won't be pleased with – 164 rushing yards and a touchdown allowed on 24 carries. Here's what it will be pleased with – just 207 net passing yards allowed an interception by cornerback Paulson Adebo and sacks by defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd and defensive end Carl Granderson. Also, after surrendering 20 points in the first half, New Orleans limited the Colts to just a touchdown in the final two quarters. The slow starts have become a pattern now, because they've happened in three consecutive games. But so, too, have the strong defensive finishes. The Saints have been stellar defensively in the second half of the last three games, and they need to get back to starting fast defensively.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Shaheed appeared close to breaking a long punt return, so there's hope that he'll add another house call to the 76-yard return for a touchdown that he had against Green Bay. But this unit was solid on a day when it needed to be nothing more than solid, because it didn't need to set up the offense for scores and didn't need to be the primary scoring unit due to red zone stagnation. Any 30-point day when kicker Blake Grupe isn't the leading scorer is probably a good day.