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New Orleans Saints ride balance to victory over New York Jets

Offense, defense and special teams all provide bright spots

The New Orleans Saints take on the New York Jets in Week 14 of the 2021 NFL season on December 12, 2021.

East Rutherford, N.J. – The New Orleans Saints did exactly what needed to be done Sunday in their 30-9 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., as they ended a five-game losing streak.

The Saints didn't play perfect football, but they played smart football as they raised their record to 6-7 entering next Sunday's game against the Buccaneers in Tampa, Fla. And smart football is winning football.

OFFENSE: The Saints didn't commit a turnover, ran for 203 yards and three touchdowns on 44 carries, and only were penalized twice on offense. The ball-control element was on point (38:52 time of possession) and the passing game was efficient enough (quarterback Taysom Hill completed 15 of 21 passes for 175 yards). Hill did fumble twice (he recovered both), and after throwing four interceptions in his previous game, his ball security flatly has to improve, even with the injured finger. But the return of running back Alvin Kamara after a four-game absence due to injuries was a fantastic balm – he ran 27 times for 120 yards and a touchdown, and caught four passes for 25 yards. New Orleans converted just twice in five red-zone opportunities, so that area will be addressed. But the Saints will take the balance (203 rushing yards, 141 passing yards) and the absence of turnovers, and take their chances with that recipe.

DEFENSE: When you keep an opponent out of the end zone – and that's what the Saints did Sunday – there's a great chance to win the game. But add in these numbers – 11 stops on 14 third-down attempts, 256 yards allowed, three sacks, three stops in as many red-zone opportunities and a 45 percent completion percentage allowed – and they say New Orleans was fairly dominant defensively. Yes, the Jets started a rookie quarterback (Zach Wilson) who entered the game completing 58 percent of his passes and with more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (six). But that's paper; New Orleans still had to force Wilson and the Jet offense to be ineffective, and it did.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The special team units had one of their cleanest games this season. Brett Maher kicked three short field goals (23, 31 and 37 yards) and made all three point-after attempts (something that can't be taken for granted this season). Punter Blake Gillikin averaged 51.6 gross yards (42.8 net) on five punts and pinned one inside the 10. Receiver Easop Winston Jr. made his NFL regular-season debut and returned four punts for 54 yards and special teams ace J.T. Gray made three tackles. New Orleans won't be overjoyed with the return yardage allowed (44 on three punt returns and 139 on five kickoffs), and that's uncharacteristic. But the units were noticeably more of a strength Sunday.

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