Saints rookies once again come up big
NEW ORLEANS -- Just days after the New Orleans Saints celebrated their 51st birthday, it was a trio of rookies that stood out to give it its sixth straight win and to make the game a near perfect storm.
The Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 30-10, to improve to 6-2 as rookies Alvin Kamara, Marshon Lattimore and Justin Hardee played well in their respective phases.
"We are trying to play the play the best guys," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said. "A lot of team are younger guys and some of them are more experienced. I think with each game; you are hopefully getting better as a team."
The Saints had a breakout game from Kamara, who scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown en route to accounting for 154 total yards.
He broke the game open for the Saints with the 33-yard receiving touchdown in the second quarter as he fought through Tampa Bay's feeble tackle attempts to give them a 16-3 lead at the half.
"I was smelling the end zone," Kamara said. "I was like, 'I got to get in the end zone' and I'm happy I got in there. When you get a big screen, it feels good. We work on those all week in practice."
Payton added, "He's got good vision and good balance. Ball security we've got to get better at, but we will."
That pass was one of two from Drew Brees as he has now thrown 225 passes in the Superdome -- the most by any quarterback in any stadium.
Brees was once again solid by completing 22-of-27 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns, but he also was raving about his rookie running back from Tennessee.
"Alvin is doing a lot of good things," Brees said. "He's very versatile. He can be in the game at any moment. He can be in any personnel group. We feel comfortable with his skillset as we do with Mark (Ingram). It's a great one-two punch."
With the offense in a rhythm, New Orleans' defense continue its hot play as it forced a three-and-out on the Bucs' first drive and capped the drive with a blocked punt by Hardee, who recovered the ball for a seven-yard touchdown.
"They blocked down," Hardee said. "They left me free. I saw a clear path. I was so surprised that it was so clear. Coaches talked about it all week. I was just so glad that IO was in the position. I had enough speed to get to the ball."
The scoop-and-score set the tone for the rest of the way as New Orleans allowed just 200 yards to Tampa Bay, which did not have quarterback Jameis Winston available for the second half due to injury.
Lattimore was one of the key players that bottled up the Bucs' passing game as he limited Mike Evans to one catch for 13 yards on six targets.
"We started out being one of the youngest defenses in the league," defensive end Cameron Jordan said. "I could not be prouder of our defense and the way that are playing. We are attacking offenses. We are trying to assert our identity in the football world."
Payton added, "We did a good job of contesting the throw, keeping the ball in front of us and not allowing a big play. (Our) third down numbers were really good."
After playing three out of four games in the Superdome, the Saints will travel east to Buffalo to take on the Bills on Nov. 12.