NEW ORLEANS — Cam Jordan danced his way off the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome late in the third quarter Monday night, hopping and skipping like a child heading to recess.
Those in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome stands all but matched his exuberance.
A year after beginning the season 0-4, New Orleans is one of five remaining unbeaten teams, improving to 4-0 with a 38-17 win over the previously undefeated Dolphins.
It’s a good time to be a Saints fan.
Drew Brees continued his mastery of Monday Night Football, helping the Saints win their ninth straight on that evening by going 30 of 39 for 413 yards while delivering four touchdowns, two to Jimmy Graham and one each to Benjamin Watson and Darren Sproles.
He surpassed 300 yards for the ninth consecutive game with a 43-yard touchdown strike to Graham, a score that handed the Saints an insurmountable 35-10 lead. The completion tied his own record for consecutive games with at least 300 yards passing at nine, something he did between the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Miami answered, though, driving 67 yards while never facing a third down, cutting into New Orleans’ lead to 35-17 on Ryan Tannehill’s three-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay.
Still, thanks to Brees’ clutch night, the defense played with a cushion for most of the game and held Tannehill to 249 yards passing while forcing three turnovers. The defense finished once again with several sacks, getting to Tannehill four times.
After Garrett Hartley’s 29 –yard field goal put the Saints up 38-17, the defense finished the job, intercepting Tannehill for the second time when Chris Carr caught a deflection. Sproles finished with seven catches for a game-high 114 yards receiving and rushing and Graham ended with 100 yards for the third-straight game on four catches.
Miami, a year after going 7-9, was game for the first 30 minutes.
The Dolphins deferred and paid immediately for not taking the ball first. It took New Orleans only six plays to get into the end zone, Darren Sproles’ three touches netting 57 yards, including the final five into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
The Dolphins drove down the field on the ensuing drive, 57 of the yards coming on the ground. But rookie John Jenkins cut through Miami’s line on third-and-inches, stopping Daniel Thomas for a two-yard loss and the Dolphins settled for a 34-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal.
After trading punts, New Orleans made Miami pay for its first mistake of the night. Linebacker Curtis Lofton clipped the arm a scrambling Tannehill, knocking the ball loose and safety Rafael Bush recovered.
Seven plays later, including conversions of third-and-20 and second-and-10, Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 27-yard touchdown. Graham caught the ball despite falling backwards, reaching for the ball behind Miami cornerback Jamar Taylor. The play gave New Orleans a 14-3 lead in spite of only nine yards rushing.
But Miami answered, driving 81 yards to cut New Orleans’ lead to 14-10 with 3:35 to go in the opening half. Marcus Thigpen caught a check-down pass from Tannehill and then sprinted 50 yards before Bush briefly saved points with a shoe-string tackle. But two plays later, Lamar Miller eased into the end zone from five yards out.
After a Saints punt, cornerback Jabari Greer matched Lofton’s forced turnover, intercepting Tannehill by jumping a route in front of receiver Brian Hartline. He returned it to the Miami 23 and four plays later, Brees hit Sproles for a 13-yard touchdown and a 21-10 lead.
The Saints started the second half much as they ended the first. The defense stopped the Dolphins on the opening drive and then Brees calmly led New Orleans 59 yards in eight plays, hitting tight end Benjamin Watson for a four-yard touchdown and a 28-10 lead.
Junior Galette’s sack on third down ended Miami’s following series, and then Brees ended Miami, hitting Graham on the long touchdown.