On Sunday, The New Orleans Saints defeated the Detroit Lions, and moved their record over .500 for the first time since 2013. Everything seemed to be going the Saints way, following several big plays on both sides of the ball, and they had a seemingly insurmountable 45-10 third quarter lead over the Lions. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led his team on an admirable comeback attempt, scoring 28 unanswered points and cutting the Saints lead to seven points with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
On their next drive, the Lions were backed up against their own end zone, and their comeback was spoiled by Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who batted and intercepted a Stafford pass to score the defense’s third touchdown of the game. Here are three takeaways from the Saints wild, but messy 52-38 win over the Lions.
Week Six New Orleans Saints Takeaways
Saints Running Backs Thrive
Adrian Peterson was traded to the Arizona Cardinals last week, and everyone involved seemed to agree that the trade was a good move for both Peterson and the Saints. On Sunday, this proved to be true with Saints running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara rushing for a combined 189 yards on 35 attempts. They averaged 5.4 yards per carry against a Lions defense that was ranked 3rd in the NFL against the run heading into the match-up. Meanwhile, Peterson gained 134 yards for the Cardinals in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ingram broke loose on a 51-yard run in the first quarter that set the tone for the running game, and added two touchdowns to his 114 yards. Kamara was rarely brought down by the first tackler, and showed that he has the strength to be effective on runs up the middle. In the third quarter, Kamara showcased his unique athleticism by leaping over Lions cornerback Darius Slay Jr. on an outside run while picking up a first down. The Saints backfield looks like one of the best in the league right now.
Big Plays by the Saints Defense
The first touchdown of the game came on a strip sack by Saints defensive end Alex Okafor that was recovered by safety Kenny Vacarro. Two more touchdowns were scored by the defense: a pick-six by rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and Jordan’s clutch interception near the end of the game. The Saints had only scored one defensive touchdown in the previous five seasons. New Orleans had two more takeways as well, a forced fumble and recovery by linebacker Craig Robertson, and an interception by Vaccaro.
16 passes were broken up by the Saints defense, most of which were near the line of scrimmage. This shut down the Lions’ attempts at screen passes for most of the game, and all three Saints interceptions came off of tipped passes. Several defenders deserve praise after this performance, but Jordan, who was once the only bright spot on this defense stood out the most. In addition to his pick-six, Jordan recorded five tackles (two for a loss), three passes defended, and two sacks. The defense combined for five sacks against a Lions offensive line whose bad luck with injuries continued in week six.
The Saints Nearly Blew a 35-point Lead
Following Lattimore’s pick-six in the third quarter, the Mercedez-Benz Superdome was rocking, and it seemed like the Saints would be able to coast to victory. Stafford fought through an apparent injury to throw touchdowns passes on two consecutive drives, cutting the Saints lead to 21 points. Then Lions cornerback Jamal Agnew returned a punt for a touchdown, and defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson returned an interception for a touchdown.
On the next drive, the Saints punted with 5:23 remaining and managed to down the ball right at the one yard line. There was still plenty of time for Stafford to score a touchdown and tie the game, but that’s when Jordan’s interception occurred in the Lions’ end zone. The Lions had a few more shots on offense, but the Saints defense held strong and sealed the victory.