Alvin Kamara achieves a career high while assisting the saints score
The New Orleans Saints score narrowly escaped with a sloppy 13-10 victory against the Seattle Seahawks in wet and windy circumstances Monday night, despite a monster effort from running back Alvin Kamara.
Of course, New Orleans’ outstanding defence and undrafted rookie kicker Brian Johnson should be praised for their clutch efforts.
But it’s unnerving to consider where this Saints score offence would be if Kamara, who accounted for 179 of the team’s 304 yards on 30 carries and scored the team’s lone touchdown, wasn’t on the field.
But it’s unnerving to consider where this Saints score offense would be if Kamara, who accounted for 179 of the team’s 304 yards on 30 carries and scored the team’s lone touchdown, wasn’t on the field.
In the process, Kamara set a new NFL record by being the quickest player to earn 3,000 career running yards and 3,000 career receiving yards in his 66th game. According to ESPN Stats & Information, former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig established the previous record of 70 games.
“AK is one of the most dominant players in this league, so it’s always exciting when you put the ball in his hands and watch what he does,” said Saints quarterback Jameis Winston, who fumbled the shotgun snap before his 13-yard touchdown pass to Kamara in the final minute of the first half – then scooped it up with his left hand, threw it to Kamara in the middle of soft zone coverage, and let him do the rest.
“I didn’t even run the path I was supposed to take,” acknowledged Kamara.
“I simply sat in a tiny void, grabbed the ball, and scored… I didn’t anticipate them to play that defensive strategy straight away, but they did, and it cost them.”
The Seahawks learned their lesson and double-covered Kamara for most of the second half, limiting the Saints score to 87 yards and three points after halftime. Despite this, Kamara made the most important play on the game-winning field goal drive, earning 12 yards on a third-and-10 run.
“They had a terrific second-half game plan of doubling AK, and we’re going to have a solution for that,” Winston said. “All we have to do is win on the outside, and we will.”
The Saints score (4-2) now have a short week to jet back across the country
and prepare for a much harder opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will want more playmakers when they visit on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).
Winston had a disappointing outing, completing 19 of 35 passes for 222 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions while also rushing eight times for 40 yards. On 15 targets, New Orleans’ wide receivers caught four passes. Several of it was Winston’s fault, particularly some erroneous short throws. However, the Saints’ lack of established skill at wide receiver and tight end did not help him, as his teammates missed potential deep receptions or failed to get open throughout the night. That has been New Orleans’ most glaring weakness all season, and it was never more apparent than on Monday night.
The Saints score were without injured receivers Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris, as well as quarterback/playmaker Taysom Hill. They did have receiver Tre’Quan Smith back for the first time all season, but he and Winston couldn’t get on the same page, which resulted in a sideline yelling match that Winston stated was “simply communication; we had to be on the same page.”
Pivotal matchup: The highly anticipated showdown between Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf didn’t disappoint and nearly led to fisticuffs. Metcalf won the first round with an 84-yard TD catch on Seattle’s opening drive. Metcalf appeared to get away with offensive pass interference, but both players made a lot of contact before Lattimore fell to the turf. Then the two continued to exchange shoves, face mask grabs and shouting matches throughout the night, which led to two personal-foul penalties against Lattimore. Ultimately, Lattimore kept Metcalf in check, though, with him catching only one more pass for 12 yards.
Saints coach Sean Payton said he was concerned that tensions might boil over.
“You don’t want to bring 140 people from Seattle to New Orleans and lose because it gets away from you. Everyone’s counting on everyone,” Payton said. “And I get it — you want to be competitive. But I think that’s a sign of a team that eventually you know how to win and to win and to win and to win — and that becomes everything. More important than anything else, it’s leaving with another win. You know, it’s a young team. We’re still preaching that message.”
Promising trend: The Saints’ defense continued to be the strength of this team, holding Seattle to 219 yards (84 of them on that one play). And linebacker Demario Davis continued to be at the forefront of the effort, leading the team with 10 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 tackles for loss. The Saints score entered the night ranked fourth in the NFL in points allowed per game (18.2) and improved on that number.
Pivotal plays: Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good — especially on a rainy, windy night when points seemed impossible to come by for both offenses. The Saints were lined up to attempt a 42-yard field goal with 3:08 left before Seattle was flagged for encroachment. Instead, Johnson got to kick the go-ahead 33-yard field goal after the two-minute warning. Johnson, who was just signed off the Chicago Bears’ practice squad last week, was making his NFL debut and is New Orleans’ fifth kicker this season. Veteran Wil Lutz is expected back from injury soon. When asked what his thought process was in a clutch situation in nasty weather in front of a hostile crowd, Johnson said, “Not to think about any of those things. Not to overthink things, just to go out there and do what I’ve done plenty of times before.”