Branisha Spincer, JRNOLA Sports
Mentored by Jim Rapier, JRNOLA Board Member
Coming into Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Saints may have had a full plate mentally, but the Saints managed to escape with a 31- 19 victory.
The Saints are tied for the NFC South division lead, have not secured a playoff berth and have a big divisional heated-rivalry game against the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday, so New Orleans was looking to regain some winning momentum and swagger.
The Saints came out with win, but the quality of play was not what Coach Sean Payton hoped, especially for team trying to make the playoffs.
“First off, it was good to get the win,” Payton said. “I didn’t feel like this was one of our better games, nonetheless we were able to win the game.”
The Saints jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and led 17-7 in the second quarter and seemed to be in control, but the Jets rallied to make the score 17-13 before the Saints pulled away. New Orleans finished with 416 yards total (131 rushing, 285 passing), but turnovers, penalties and not converting on third down prevented them from scoring more.
The New Orleans defense limited the Jets to 294 yards total and forced two turnovers, interceptions by Craig Robertson and Marshon Lattimore.
Mistakes hurt the Saints, and Payton had the evidence to back that and he was not happy. The Saints had three turnovers against the Jets, two of which were in the red zone and potentially prevented them from scoring more. They also turned the ball over near their goal line, helping the Jets score three points.
Was it a lack of focus?
“Our message was to focus on playing our best game today,” Payton said. “Of course there was one other game, but it was not like we were looking at three scenarios. We are in a round-robin tournament here. Everyone is playing everyone … “I know that sounds a little bit cliche, but honestly it’s the truth.”
Payton can use the game stats to show the team how much better things could’ve been against the Jets.
The Saints were 3-for-10 converting third downs. Alvin Kamara, who did a score a touchdown in the first half, failed to make the catch when he was open on a long pass on third down during the first drive of the second half. Brandon Coleman made the catch in the red zone on what would’ve been a third-down conversion, but he fumbled.
New Orleans was penalized eight times for 92 yards.
Thomas on a roll: Despite the ups and downs on offense, Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas had a strong game.
He finished with nine receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. In his past two games, Thomas has 19 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
With nine catches against the Jets, Thomas joins Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the only two players in NFL history to have 90-plus receptions in each of their first two NFL seasons.
“I certainly feel like Michael Thomas deserves more attention as far as where he stands amongst some of the league’s best receivers,” Brees said. “ He has had two very good years thus far and continues to get better and better.”
Mr. Deflection: Saints defensive end Cam Jordan only had one tackle, but he made a difference against the Jets with his pass defense, and it wasn’t because of sacking the quarterback.
Jordan finished the game with four pass deflections, tying his career-high for a game when the Saints played at Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2014.
“He’s like (basketball player) Dikembe Mutumbo playing defensive end. It’s pretty awesome,” Brees said of Jordan. “Those are game-changers. Especially the one on the two-point conversion (didn’t count as a passed defensed officially) That was a huge play.”
As impressed as his teammates were, Jordan felt the defense can improve.
“It was definitely a sloppy game. We have to improve on defense,” Jordan said. “When you talk about defensive efforts given, we only had one sack, but we harassed the quarterback a little bit. We had (Bryce Petty) coming in with a talented arm. We knew he was a runner a little bit. It was on us to contain him.”