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Nick Easton steps in, New Orleans Saints offensive line operates smoothly against Tampa Bay

Check out photos of the Saints locker room celebration presented by Mercedes-Benz following the Week 11 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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New Orleans Saints

Tampa, Fla. – Yes, the New Orleans Saints know how to rebound.

Sunday's 34-17 victory over Tampa Bay went a long way toward taking the sting away from the previous week's loss but, more, it raised the Saints' record to 8-2 and added another game to their lead in the NFC South. The margin is now three games over second-place Carolina.

And the Saints did so in a way that was more dominating than the final score. They ran for 109 yards against the league's top-ranked run defense, intercepted four passes (and returned one for a touchdown) and responded each time Tampa Bay (3-7) made a push.

Many, many outstanding performances were put forth in this one. Here are the best:

OFFENSE: Couldn't go wrong here with Drew Brees (28 of 35 for 228 yards and a touchdown, without an interception), or Michael Thomas (eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, or Alvin Kamara (13 carries for 75 yards, 10 catches for another 47). But think about Nick Easton. Easton had been inactive for five consecutive games, only had played in three and was thrust into the starting lineup at left guard for the injured Andrus Peat. He might not have been perfect, but the Saints didn't allow a sack, they ran for 32 more yards than the Bucs had been allowing (77) and Easton held up well on the interior. On Sunday, he was the epitome of a true professional; a player who stayed ready until his number was called, and delivered.

DEFENSE: Another tough choice on this one, because of all the play-makers Sunday. Vonn Bell came up with his first career interception, Marcus Williams returned a pick for a touchdown, P.J. Williams came up with an interception in the end zone, Demario Davis had an interception and four passes defense and Cam Jordan chipped in 1.5 sacks and another half dozen pressures (he had four quarterback hits). But linebacker Kiko Alonso had his most impactful game as a Saint. He tied Davis for the team lead with six tackles, was credited with a tackle for loss, and had a couple of bone-jarring tackles. And his pass defensed was a throw that he deflected and led to Bell's interception.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A really solid game by all the units, but the play that stood out – and the player who made it – was Kamara. Filling in at punt returner for the injured Deonte Harris, Kamara had a 27-yard punt return in the second quarter to set up a Saints touchdown drive. It exhibited the kind of impact he can make any time he touches the football.

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