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Tre'Quan Smith's career day helps New Orleans Saints dominate Philadelphia

Smith caught 10 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown


I'm running out of adjectives here.


The New Orleans Saints (9-1) are the hottest team in the NFL, with Saints players working at a hard-to-match level during their nine-game winning streak. It's possible to not believe the dominance unless you see it, because it's that level of one-sidedness.

The Saints have won their last three games by an average score of 48-19 – including Sunday's 48-7 victory over Philadelphia in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – with the points allowed shrinking from 35 to 14 to 7. As impressive as it has been to watch, the Saints will tell you that perfection still is out there.

They're right. But it's fun watching the chase, and watching the players who are helping lead the charge.

OFFENSE: I'm not sure how much Brandon Marshall is going to add to the Saints as a receiver, but rookie Tre’Quan Smith has shown on a couple of occasions that he can be every bit the player he showed in preseason. Sunday, he had a career high in catches (10) and receiving yards (157), and added a touchdown. He made acrobatic catches (the 38-yard layout was spectacular) and routine ones, and if he keeps coming along the way he has, he's as viable as an option behind Michael Thomas as the Saints will have on the roster. There isn't a week that Drew Brees (22 of 30 for 363 yards and four touchdowns) isn't a worthy candidate, and the Saints' offensive line is the best in the business. But Smith gave future opponents someone else to worry about, and that's major.

DEFENSE: The fact that Marshon Lattimore wasn't going to sneak up on anybody this season – he was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017 – may have had something to do with the fact that he entered Sunday without an interception. So, Lattimore leaked off his assigned area and rotated over to the middle of the field Sunday in order to pick off his first pass of the year, from Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz in the first quarter. Lattimore was a blanket Sunday, with two passes defensed, and he also led the Saints with four tackles, all solo. This season, he also has two fumble recoveries, so he's leading the team with three takeaways. Safety Chris Banjo almost matched him in takeaways in the fourth quarter, with his two interceptions against the Eagles. Lattimore, though, helped set the defensive tone for the Saints in a dominating performance.

SPECIAL TEAMS: It's been a long time since we've had a chance to throw a bouquet at punter Thomas Morstead, partly because he has been so underutilized – the Saint have been so proficient on offense, they rarely have had to punt. Morstead didn't punt in the previous game, New Orleans' 51-14 victory in Cincinnati, and he only had to punt twice against the Eagles. Both, though, were perfect. His first was a 50-yard bomb that sailed out of bounds, without a return attempt. The second was a 49-yarder that pinned Golden Tate to the sideline and positioned him to be tackled for a 2-yard loss on the punt return. The Saints will take quality over quantity every day.


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