Although the New Orleans Saints’ offense got off to a slow, and at times sloppy start against the Buffalo Bills, the defense picked up the slack. A week after their bye, following a gut-wrenching loss to the New England Patriots, the Saints’ defense again helped an offense that seemed as if it was not hitting on all cylinders in the two opening quarters.
New Orleans once again won the turnover battle, forcing multiple fumbles and snagging one interception. On the first play of the game, Buffalo ran a read-option play, but linebacker David Hawthorne attacked, hit Bills’ quarterback Thad Lewis and caused a fumble that was recovered by the Saints. Defensive end Cameron Jordan also caused a fumble on a sack that was recovered by New Orleans as did Junior Galette, although the ball was recovered by Buffalo. Cornerback Keenan Lewis also had an interception early in the fourth quarter which ultimately led to a 42-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to Kenny Stills on the ensuing possession. This put New Orleans up 35-17 with 7.5 minutes left in regulation.
The Saints should now have a +8 takeaway/giveaway differential, which is somewhat similar to the 2009 team when New Orleans went 13-3 and defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. This is by no means an indication or predictor that the Saints are destined for that final game, but it is a good sign.
If defensive coordinator Rob Ryan can keep getting this mid-to-high level production from his young group of players, there is no reason New Orleans couldn’t make it all the way.