The New Orleans Saints (6-8) snapped a three-game losing streak in putting together their most dominating performance in all three facets in a 41-0 shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
It marked the Black and Gold's first shutout in 17 years since a Dec. 24, 1995 12-0 win at the New York Jets. The 41-point output was also a season -high for the Saints. The club goes back on the road this week to face the Dallas Cowboys (8-6) at Cowboys Stadium in a clash between NFC rivals on Sunday, Dec. 23 at Noon CT.
The game will be regionally televised on FOX (WVUE-FOX 8 locally). The resurgent Cowboys, winners of three straight are tied for first place in the NFC East. The Saints and the Cowboys have faced off 24 times with Dallas holding a 15-9 lead.
However, the Saints have dominated the series of late, winning six of the last seven meetings, including a dramatic come-from-behind 30-27 win on Thanksgiving day in 2010 in the team's inaugural trip to Cowboys Stadium. Last week, New Orleans won the toss and received first, displaying an immediate offensive rhythm as QB Drew Brees led them on a 7-play, 74-yard drive down the field that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to TE David Thomas.
Brees would enjoy a banner day, as he completed 26-of-39 passes for 307 yards with four touchdowns and a 124.6 passer rating. Later in the first quarter, the first sign of New Orleans' dominating defensive performance to come would take place when CB Jabari Greer picked off Tampa Bay.
QB Josh Freeman at the Saints 16-yard line and return it three yards, setting up a scoring drive that ended in the second quarter with a 25-yard field goal by K Garrett Hartley.
It was the first of a career-high two picks on the afternoon for Greer. In addition to Brees' spectacular performance on offense on a day when the Saints ran up 149 of their 447 yards on the ground against a rushing defense that was ranked first in the NFL going into the contest.
Mark Ingram just missed his career-high in yardage with 14 carries for 90 yards with one touchdown. Ingram now leads a resurgent Saints run game in rushing with 510 yards and four touchdowns.
In addition to pitching their 13th shutout in franchise history and their first in 17 years, the most impressive stat of the day was holding the Buccaneers to only 72 yards on the ground, with only 16 on 9 carries going to rookie sensation Doug Martin.
Overall, the Saints forced five turnovers, which led to 17 points. Joining Greer's two interceptions were picks by safeties Rafael Bush and Isa Abdul-Quddus, making New Orleans' four the most by the team in a contest since 2002. Up front, defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Will Smith posted one sack apiece, with Jordan also forcing Freeman to fumble and picking it up on the play. Jordan now has a club-high eight quarterback takedowns, the most by a Saint since 2009.