Charlotte, N.C. – The New Orleans Saints are seeking better, but the way they ended the regular season wasn't anything to frown about.
The Saints raised their record to 13-3 courtesy of a 42-10 victory over Carolina (5-11) at Bank of America Stadium. And, possibly, the game wasn't as close as the final score.
The Saints rode some nice individual performances while compiling a complete team victory.
OFFENSE: Alvin Kamara's numbers weren't fantastic. But then, they didn't need to be because what was most noteworthy is that the bounce is back. The swagger is back. The make-you-look is back. Kamara ran for 39 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries, and caught two passes for 18 yards to post his second multi-score game. Both touchdown runs came in the first quarter, his third and fourth scores in a five-quarter span. That's the kind of dangerous player that he has been in his previous two seasons, and it's the kind of player he is now.
DEFENSE: The temptation is go with the secondary unit, which stood tall again despite playing without three injured starters. What the unit has managed to do the last two games is pretty remarkable (P.J. Williams hasn't played safety since high school). But linebacker A.J. Klein had a 14-yard pick-six in the second quarter, and while it came at the expense of rookie quarterback Will Grier, it came against his former team. And no matter how far removed you are from playing for that team, that's a sweet feeling. Toss in six tackles and a quarterback hit, and it was a fairly complete game for Klein.
SPECIAL TEAMS: New Orleans has kept a roster spot open for defensive back J.T. Gray specifically because of his skill as a special teamer. He made two fantastic one-on-one tackles on punt returns against Carolina – one for a yard loss, the other after a 5-yard gain – to set the tone for the cover teams. Wil Lutz is notable because with his six extra points, he was able to establish a personal single-season career high. But Gray has continued to display his worth this season with the kinds of stop he made Sunday.